Arroyos seek legal remedy at SC
By Dennis Carcamo (The Philippine Star) Updated November 08, 2011 09:48 AM Comments (78)
MANILA, Philippines - Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, today elevated to the Supreme Court (SC) the issue on their request to seek medical treatment abroad.
In her 41-page petition, Mrs. Arroyo asked the SC to nullify the watchlist order issued by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. The order prevents Mrs. Arroyo from travelling abroad.
The former president cited in the petition possible danger of her medical condition becoming "incurable" due to the delayed action of De Lima on her request to seek treatment abroad.
Meanwhile, Mr. Arroyo's lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, told philstar.com in a phone interview that they will also file a petition on the watchlist order issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) before the SC this afternoon.
Topacio said he, in behalf of the former first gentleman,, will file a petition for certiorari and prohibition asking the high court to nullify the DOJ’s Circular 41 which he claims as vague.
"The foremost ground of our petition is the illegality of the DOJ circular simply because it violates the travel clause in the Constitution," Topacio said.
He argued that the DOJ circular should also be voided "for its vagueness."
"It is void for vagueness because it has no standard for persons who would be placed for PI (preliminary investigation). It is the absolute discretion of the Secretary of Justice who should and should not be placed in the watchlist," he said.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima placed the Arroyo couple in the watchlist order for their alleged involvement in the 2007 election fraud. A separate watchlist order was also issued by the DOJ against Mrs. Arroyo for the plunder complaints against her before the department.
A preliminary investigation on the electoral sabotage case by the joint panel of the DOJ-Commission on Elections is now underway.
Aside from the Arroyo couple, also accused of electoral sabotage were several former election officials, including then Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos and poll Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer.
Topacio earlier said that he will also question before the high court the legality of the creation of the DOJ-Comelec fact finding body.
He maintained that the Comelec is an independent constitutional body which should not be cowed by another government agency such as the DOJ.
Mrs. Arroyo's spokesperosn, Maria Elena Bautista-Horn, earlier said that their camp is "shifting our battle into [the] legal arena."
Horn said they feel that there have been several opposition to the request of the Arroyos for a checkup outside the country.
She said the former president has been diagnosed with a metabolic bone mineral disorder, but doctors failed to pinpoint the type of the ailment.
"Which kind yun ang di natin alam," Horn added.
Mrs. Arroyo underwent three operations at the St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City in Taguig since the middle of this year.
Her doctors had said that she has been recuperating well, which is the same findings of Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
Horn, meanwhile, slammed the statement of the Philippine Medical Association that there are many bone specialists in the country who could look at and treat Mrs. Arroyo's condition.
"Ginagawang very simplistic ng PMA ang condition ng former President... Alam natin na gumagawa ng regular bone biopsy dito pero ito ay metabolic bone mineral disorder. Minerals ng buto ang problema so we are asking them for a list of specialists and the protocols they will do. Ibigay na lang ang mga pangalan at ‘wag nang mangampanya sa media," she said.
Horn also stressed the urgency of Mrs. Arroyo’s treatment abroad, saying that the four parathyroid glands of the former president have not been functioning properly.
"Gusto nating masubukan paandarin uli ang gland na ito. May critical aspect ang timeline. The sooner they regenerate the gland the better," she said.