Since the Pasay RTC is busy looking into government facilities where they could “detain” Arroyo, I encourage them to look also into the possibility of using ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother House as a possible “detention cell”?
Perhaps it would be better for Arroyo to be summoned regularly by Big Brother or “Kuya” in the confession room so that Arroyo could finally say “I’m sorry” with sincerity. Having experienced the strains of being nominated several times for forced eviction, Arroyo would understand the gravity of being named ” oppressor” due to her continued lack of social decorum and emotional quotient. She could finally cry out in tears, and confess her sins. Being in Kuya’s house could finally take its toll on Arroyo and eventually boot herself out for a voluntary exit so that she could go back into the outside world, amend her irregular ways, and make up for everything that she has done to the Filipino people.
Looking for the Appropriate “House Arrest” Facility
In addition to the spruced-up police library at the Southern Police District in Taguig City, the Veterans’ Memorial Center, and the National Orthophedic Hospital underwent ocular inspection as possible detention site for former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, an official said.
Even the military is getting into the act, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines yesterday expressing readiness to take in the former president in its AFP Medical Center in V. Luna Quezon City, which is another facility being considered for the detention of the former commander in chief, if so ordered by higher authorities.
Pasay City Sheriff Cordelio Buenviaje said the hospitals in Quezon City were inspected as directed by Judge Mupas of RTC 112, where Ms Arroyo faces charges of electoral sabotage for alleged fraud in 2007 election.
Aside from Buenviaje, Pasay RTC clerk of court Atty Joel Pelicano and select Pasay City policemen formed the team tasked by Mupas to inspect said facilities.
House Arrest or Not
Arroyo wants to be detained in her sprawling house at the swank La Vista subdivision in Quezon City. But many are saying: No way.
Sixto Brillantes Jr., chairman of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), had this to say, “Our position is very clear. It should be in a detention cell of a government detention facility. We will not agree if it is a private hospital. We will not agree if it’s in her residence. We will not agree to house arrest,” said .
“It is within the jurisdiction of the RTC, but that is up to the court to decide,” he told reporters.
“If it says it’s going to be a government house arrest, that might be possible,” Brillantes added. “We would interpret a government house as a detention facility of the government.”
Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez said there is no legal basis for granting house arrest to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Chavez pointed out there is no provision in the rules of court or in the Revised Penal Code dealing specifically with house arrest but only house service of sentence.
He said house arrest is a remnant of the martial law era when then President Ferdinand Marcos would put his enemies under hospital arrest and then house arrest so he would look good in public.
In the case of Arroyo, Chavez said allowing the former president to be under house arrest would show that the legal system gives preferential treatment to former government officials.
“Ano ang mangyayari pag hindi natin parusahan ang mga taong ito? We will never achieve zero tolerance for corruption. Why would I allow a person with a multitude of crimes to go on house arrest? Even her own doctors said she is medically fit to be treated outside hospital. A person who is healthy enough to be out of the hospital is healthy enough to be detained in any government institution,” he said.
The former solicitor general said the problem with many Filipinos is they allow justice to be “obfuscated by compassion.”
He said that because of compassion, many leaders accused of abusing the people “find their way back in Congress.”
“Masyado maraming compassion sa atin. Walang nangyayari sa what is right or wrong. Sa akin presidente man siya, vice-president or senador, kahit anong official ng gobyerno, pag nagkasala ka, kagaya ka ni Juan dela Cruz, ni Mang Pandoy. Pantay-pantay tayo lahat dapat. Hindi porket former president ka, ang pananagutan mo nga dapat mas mataas pa sa ordinaryong Pilipino.’
“Pinaasa mo na ikaw ay isang pinuno, pinaasa mo ang bansa. Inabuso mo at lalong lalo na dito ninakaw mo ang kaluluwa ng ating bansa dahil sa electoral sabotage…Tapos bibigyan pa natin ng compassion? That’s too much.”
Chavez, meanwhile, rejected arguments from the Arroyo camp that there is a security risk if the former president is placed in a government facility.
He said the fact that Arroyo is a former president should be deterrent enough to stop any attempts against her life.
“Kung sasaktan mo yan, e tignan mo naman ang napakalaking issue mangyayari sa bansa natin. These are immaterial, irrelevant and inconsequential arguments from the Arroyo camp,” he said.
Chavez also dismissed talk that putting Arroyo behind bars would spark international backlash. He pointed out the experience of South Korea where governments have put their former presidents on trial.
“Look at what happened to South Korea. How many past presidents did they handcuff, tried and found guilty and brought to jail? There was no backlash. This is a nation that wants to purge itself and clean itself up,” he said.
“Considering that there is already admission that Mrs. Arroyo is already medically fit, our position is that she should immediately be transferred to detention facility,” Atty. Maria Juna Velez, one of the prosecution lawyer said to the media.
Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño expressed his desire that the former president be detained behind cold bars. Casiño accused Gloria Arroyo and her lawyers of deliberately deceiving people after their camp filed the motion for the house arrest right after admitting that the former president’s health had improved.
“She’s as healthy as a horse and should be immediately put behind bars in a regular jail. A house arrest at this time is unjust and constitutes special treatment. What the court should do is remove her from St. Luke’s Hospital and bring her to jail first and from her cell she can argue her petition for house arrest,” – the lawmaker, Teodoro Casiño said.
“In contrast to Mrs. Arroyo, of the 360 documented political prisoners, 28 are suffering from different ailments and 11 are elderly but they are hardly allowed to get proper medical attention and treatment,”
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima wants former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be placed inside a detention center rather than in a house to avoid perceptions of “special treatment.”
“[Arroyo] should be placed in an appropriate jail facility or in a government hospital with amenities comfortable enough for her rather than house arrest [since her condition is improving]. Otherwise, that will come out as questionable in the public eye.”
House Minority Leader, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman stressed that both hospital and house arrests are accepted detention measures in lieu of prison confinement, particularly during the pre-trial and pre-conviction phases of criminal prosecution.
House arrest has been upheld in several decisions of the Supreme Court as a reasonable measure to secure the safety of an accused and prevent his escape, consistent with the standard for custody provided in RA 7438 (An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation As Well As The Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers, and Providing Penalties For Violations Thereof), said Lagman.
Pending final conviction, detention is not a punitive action but a custodial safeguard, the lawmaker said.
In the case of Mrs. Arroyo, Lagman said antecedent to the issue of house arrest are:
(a) The prejudicial issue pending in the Supreme Court on the constitutionality and legitimacy of the composition of the DoJ-Comelec panel which affects the validity of the filing of the poll sabotage case and the subsequent issuance of the warrant of arrest; and,
(b) The right to bail of the former President because the prosecutions evidence against her is not strong, as in fact it is weak, hearsay and uncorroborated.
Militant lawmakers Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, opposed house arrest for Arroyo and disputed claims over the weekend by , both strong allies and friends of ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, that the administration move to “humiliate” the former President could provoke an international backlash.
They warned us of international “outrage” if government pursues its intention of placing Arroyo under government controlled arrest. Warning us even that there might be a possible “show of sympathy” from some segments of the military.
I don’t know about these two characters, but why would the international community care about Gloria? I know the Koreans wouldn’t. They jailed their former presidents the way they jail their drug lords. I know the Chinese would’nt. They jail and even shoot to death erring officials of their political party.
Kabataan Representative Raymond Palatino however said, “It will be more embarrassing for the Philippines if we do not follow our own laws just to accommodate a former president. The international community will respect us more if we will jail GMA (Arroyo) because we will send a message that we punish those who violate our laws.”
Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said “House arrest is a double standard. It is a rest, it is not arrest.”
Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano said everybody should be equal in the eyes of the law.
A few lawmakers have filed House Resolution No. 1942 seeking the immediate detention of Arroyo in an ordinary jail “just like any other person accused of a nonbailable offense.”
The resolution said house arrest “so early in the process of the case constitutes special treatment given to Arroyo and is unacceptable for it only shows how the powerful and the rich continue to be given preferential treatment despite the terrible crimes for which they are accused of.”
Senator Francis Pangilinan said “The backlash would happen if she is allowed to escape and she never gets back.”
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson stated that “If there is anybody who should be blamed for placing her in a humiliating position it is GMA herself.”
The Pampanga Mayors League called for Arroyo’s arrest in her Lubao hometown residence so “she can render service from there” to her constituents.
President Benigno Aquino III, for his part, reserved his judgment on where his predecessor should be detained after being charged with electoral sabotage.
He said he will leave it to the court to decide on whether to place Arroyo on house arrest or hospital arrest.
“Prudence dictates that I should not comment on the matter…there is Latin term sub judice. Being the Chief Executive of this land I might be construed as trying to influence the decision of the court,” he said.
The President added that the court “has the power to decide where to incarcerate people that they ordered arrested.”
Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte also claimed that the Department of Justice under Secretary Leila de Lima and even President Aquino himself, cannot impose their position on the prosecution team handling Mrs. Arroyos case.
According to Valte, the Palace has decided to stay out of Mrs. Arroyos detention issue to avoid insinuations that Aquino is either giving the former president the kid glove treatment or is giving her a hard time in an effort pin her down.
“We have been very consistent from the very beginning in saying that this matter is now solely with the trial court judge,’’ deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters.
“We cannot think why there would be a backlash if the President was just out to fulfill his promise that we should have accountability for things that happened in the past,’’ Valte said.
“We are not embarrassing former President Arroyo. The process that she is undergoing now is the same process given to any accused facing a case in our system.’’
Malacanang has completely clammed up on the issue pertaining to the detention and claimed it would completely leave the matter entirely to the court in an apparent attempt to steer away from administration pronouncements that it would not object to the former presidents hospital or house arrest.
Some notable instances of house arrest include:
1. Ahmed Ben Bella, former President of Algeria;
2. Jorge Videla, former President of Argentina;
3. Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and leader of her countrys pro-democracy movement;
4. Augusto Pinochet, former President of Chile, placed under house arrest by his countrys Supreme Court;
5. Zhao Ziyang, purged Communist Chinese leader who was put under house arrest for the last 16 years of his life after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
6. Muhammad Naguib, former President of Egypt;
7. Sukarno, First President of Indonesia;
8. Mohammad Mosaddegh, former Premier of Iran;
9. Shehu Shagari, President of Nigeria;
10. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 9th Prime Minister and 4th President of Pakistan;
11. Chia Thye Poh, former leftist Member of Parliament of Singapore;
12. Bram Fischer, former South African Communist Party leader was diagnosed with cancer while in prison and was placed under house arrest due to pressure from the anti-apartheid groups;
13. former Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev;
14. Habib Bourguiba, former President of Tunisia; and
15. Muhammad VIII al-Amin, former King of Tunisia.
16. American domestic guru Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months of house arrest;
17. Paris Hilton, American socialite, was re-assigned to house arrest on June 7, 2007.
Even the Roman Catholic Church, Lagman said, practiced house arrest when it placed Galileo Galilei under house arrest for his belief in Copernicuss theory of the sun as the center of the universe and all the planets and stars revolved around it. He stayed under house arrest until his death in 1642.
Former President Joseph Estrada was also placed under house arrest during his trial and even after he was convicted in 2007.
In the eyes of many Filipinos, Gloria is being treated humanely. Of course, several segments of the elite, particularly those who enjoyed numerous perks during the time of Gloria, do ask that the government take cognizance of her previous position as President. And they demand that she be treated as grandly as what she got when she was president.
Why will we treat a former president like a monarch? I mean, come on! We are the only country in the world who considers presidents as kings and queens, when in truth and in fact, in other countries, presidents are just mere servants of the people.
Why are these elites so afraid of humiliating Gloria? When Gloria was in power, did it ever occurred to her that some of her actions were humiliating enough to cause our image as a nation to deteriorate?
Probably these elites think the way Gloria thinks and that is, they are entitled to a cozy place even if they stole billions of pesos from the public coffers or they orchestrated the biggest electoral fraud in the history of the nation.
For all the things that she is being accused of, prostituting the very voice of the People, demands an equal prostitution from the very people whom Gloria Arroyo robbed.
We must end this unequal application of the law. We must treat Gloria Arroyo the way we treat other criminals or others accused of nonbailable offenses.
We must end this feudalist thinking of bestowing kingly or regalia upon our Presidents and treat them as monarch. They are not monarchy. Gloria Arroyo is not of royal blood and even if she is, Gloria is not entitled to be treated differently.
So many changes have been happening within the Pinoy Big Brother House. Some stayed, some left, some moved houses. Sometimes, it’s just after an eviction and already, a voluntary exit. Nobody in Kuya’s house was immune to the week’s nomination, unless they take on a challenge which tested their skills and wit, and won to receive automatic immunity.
There was also a Head of Household (HoH) challenge. But being HoH camed with responsibilities. The HoH’s had the burden of choosing the right people and making the final decision for his team. His decisions had sometimes influenced others to move out of the team or join others, while some moved up their ranks.
Many have made the decision to leave in favor of being with their loved ones. Though thankful for the experience and the friendships formed, some have chosen to move onwards to life outside the PBB house, leaving the other housemates on the chopping block.
The current head of the state has a great responsiblity. He needs to exert all effort to make good in the eyes of the people, while remaining balanced, just and fair. He needs to choose the right people for his team, and likewise, his team should offer the best expertise to him. Do not lose faith, and never forget to correct each other, if a wrong decision was made. We are, after all, not immune to mistakes.
We have to remember that we could never forever hold on to the power and privileges that we have right now. Life would sometimes teach us that the power we unfairly used and took by force, and denied to others, would eventually strike hard on us due to Karma.
And if the time comes that we need to get off the chair of authority, we must do so with all dignity and acceptance, and so thankful of the opportunity to have served the people.
“Team Pilipinas for the win! Mahal ko kayong lahat.”