Self-proclaimed “Oprah Winfrey of the Philippines” and presidential sister Kris Aquino may be given a run for the money if reports that brilliant international human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin will take up the case of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).Arroyo is currently detained on charges of plunder and has remained under hospital arrest for months as the government of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III scrounges around for scraps of evidence to work with in its desperate efforts to build the substance of these charges. Alamuddin is the fiancee of hollywood megastar George Clooney. As such, her involvement with Arroyo promises to bring to bear Clooney’s awesome star power even as she applies her track record as a successful human rights attorney.
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The story of Alamuddin’s interest in Arroyo’s plight first broke in Philippine Star columnist Carmen Pedrosa’s piece Hollywood meets human rights; Amal takes up FPGMA’s case. According to Pedrosa, Alamuddin had indicated in a brief conversation that Arroyo’s case could be brought before a United Nations court “if there is reason”.
Following that discussion, Alamuddin subsequently got in touch with Pedrosa again on the matter and swung by Manila for a quick visit. Pedrosa writes of the outcome of that visit…
By the time [Alamuddin] was on her way to London she committed to help former President Arroyo by advising her on her rights under international law. This was not about power politics but about human rights and every individual was entitled to it, she said.
This will be a much-needed boost to the fortunes of Arroyo who, it seems, is being detained on the basis of charges that are unlikely to fly, many of which have already been dismissed…
If BS Aquino can’t get GMA on vote rigging, he will try her on plunder again and again. Along with some people involved with Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during GMA’s term, a case was filed against her for the allegedly conspiring to pocket intelligence and confidential funds of the PCSO amounting to some P365 million. Unfortunately, the main witness admitted that there is no solid proof to link GMA and her co-accused to the allegedly plundered public funds. The incompetence in BS Aquino’s administration is very evident. I’m surprised no heads have rolled.
The response from Malacanang was predictable. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma issued a statement highlighting that it is “a matter of duty on the part of the administration to ensure that no law is violated,” referring to questions raised on whether the manner with which Arroyo has been treated by the government of President BS Aquino since he assumed power did violate her rights. Coloma insists that “there is no ill will toward the former President and we are simply following the processes of law.”
Strangely, a certain Luz Ilagan party-list representative of the communist-sympathising “women’s issues” group Gabriela warned Alamuddin to respect Philippine Law; “Otherwise, her actions might be construed as interventionist”. A strange position to take by a representative of a group affiliated with a movement renowned for its singular objective of overthrowing legitimate democratic governments through violent revolution.
The government of President BS Aquino has long used popular celebrities as key pillars of its power base. Chief amongst these celebrities is presidential sister Kris Aquino, so-called “Queen of All Philippine Media” and one of the most revered showbiz personalities in the Philippines. The million-dollar question may come down to whose celebrity will hook the most Filipinos, Clooney’s or Kris’s if it comes down to a tele-showdown. Then again, that won’t really matter if the case, with Alamuddin’s help, could be brought to courts not infected by the disease that is Philippine politics.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.