This is a press statement from Akbayan.
Photo credit: Pia arcangel
Akbayan Party today applauded Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima decision to deny Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Arroyo’s petition to leave the country despite arguments for medical treatment abroad. Akbayan Spokesperson and former Representative Risa Hontiveros called the decision as just and proper considering the weight of the crimes that she must be made to account for. According to the former legislator “Gloria shouldn’t be allowed to do a Ramona” in reference to the recent high-profile murder case involving Ram Revilla with one of the siblings, Ramona, escaping to Turkey to allegedly evade possible investigation for the murder.
Hontiveros called on the government to be on the guard of the current attempt by the Arroyo camp to question the current immigration watch list against Arroyo in the Supreme Court to allow her to flee the country. According to Hontiveros, “Arroyo is using every legal opening to evade the reach of the law.”
The former legislator stated that the country “can ill-afford a high-profile personality evade the cases against her. What Arroyo is practically seeking is for the Supreme Court to let her leave the country beyond the reach of the cases against her. This isn’t about a medical condition; this is about her trying to escape justice.”
“Her motive to leave the country is very suspicious. Firstly, none of the countries she is seeking medical treatment in have extradition treaties with the Philippines. Secondly, she says she’s leaving the country for medical treatment but Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona himself has stated our country has sufficient facilities and medical experts that can help her and the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) has likewise given the same opinion. Also, we have to take into consideration the fact that she’s facing criminal cases left and right,” according to Hontiveros.
Public should stop Arroyo from fleeing
Hontiveros also added that with Arroyo using all her resources available to her to escape the reach of justice, it is also necessary for the public to also do their part in ensuring that she will not leave. Hontiveros called on the public to stop Arroyo from fleeing and keep an eye on all international airports and other major entry and exit ports that may be used by Arroyo to flee the country. She urged that social media such as twitter and facebook be used by the people to warn the authorities of Arroyo’s whereabouts should she try to flee the country.
“Arroyo will try to get her way by hook or by crook. We have to be on a look out for a possible attempt by Arroyo to leave the country even if the Supreme Court denies her petition. The public must also do their part in stopping Arroyo from leaving and keep an eye on our international ports such as in NAIA, Cebu, Davao, and Clark and even major seaports and warn the authorities should they be able to see her trying to flee the country. We can always use social media like facebook and twitter to do that,” according to Hontiveros.
The DOJ included Arroyo under an immigration watch list in connection with the electoral sabotage charges lodged before the joint DOJ-Commission on Elections (Comelec) Preliminary Investigation Committee in connection with the 2007 mid-term elections. Arroyo’s allies have called for the lifting of the watch list for humanitarian reasons arguing that Arroyo needs to seek medical help abroad. DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima has denied her petition to leave the country arguing, among others, that there is no sufficient reason for her to leave given that medical facilities and top-notched doctors for her treatment are available in the country and because of the lack of extradition treaties between the Philippines and the countries she has listed where she will seek medical treatment.