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Palace: Up to GMA to hire Clooney’s fiancée as lawyer

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Detained former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can hire the best and the brightest lawyer if she wants to.

Malacañang yesterday welcomed the reported plan of the lawyer-fiancee of Hollywood actor George Clooney to elevate before the United Nations the plight of Arroyo, who has been charged with non-bailable offenses.

“We respect the right of former president Arroyo to avail herself of counsel. And we also respect the right of her counsel to do what she deems is right under the circumstances,” Presidential Communications Operations Office  Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Coloma made the statement following a report in The STAR that Clooney’s girlfriend Amal Alamuddin, an international human rights lawyer who represented Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, broached the plan after being apprised of the legal facts about Arroyo’s case.

When asked how “confident” is the government that Arroyo’s rights have not been violated, Coloma assured the public that it has never been the government’s policy to violate human rights.

“This is not a matter of confidence, but a matter of duty on the part of the government to ensure that no law is violated,” Coloma told a news briefing.

Former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo said yesterday he was “very happy” with the plan of Alamuddin to bring his wife’s case before the UN.

Lawyer Raul Lambino, spokesman of the former president, also welcomed the development and expressed surprise over Alamuddin’s plan.

“It’s very gratifying to hear that. This is a pleasant surprise, at least the former president’s case will somehow have another avenue for resolution in the aspect of her human rights being violated,” Lambino said.

Arroyo, now a congresswoman of her home province Pampanga, was initially indicted for electoral sabotage just a day after she was prevented from leaving the country on Nov. 18, 2011. The charges were prepared by the Commission on Elections and lodged at the Pasay City regional trial court. Judge Jesus Mupas issued a warrant for Arroyo’s arrest on the day the charges were filed.

The electoral sabotage case stemmed from the testimony of a witness that she overheard Arroyo giving instructions to then Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan to give Arroyo’s Team Unity slate a 12-0 victory in Mindanao in the 2007 senatorial elections.

Arroyo is also facing plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with her alleged misused of the P366-million intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The plunder case was filed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales shortly after Mupas granted Arroyo temporary liberty in October 2012 in connection with the electoral sabotage case. – With Paolo Romero, Michael Punongbayan

 

 

ALAMUDDIN

AMAL ALAMUDDIN

ARROYO

COLOMA

GEORGE CLOONEY

GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

GOVERNOR ZALDY AMPATUAN

JOSE MIGUEL ARROYO

JUDGE JESUS MUPAS

JULIAN ASSANGE

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