DAVAO CITY – Either she was duped or that she didn’t do her research. This was the reaction of a netizen here on the recent actions of Atty. Amal Alamuddin Clooney of filing a case against the Philippine government for the continuing detention of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
According to reports, Clooney, who filed the case before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) on February 26, wanted the UN to act for the release of the incumbent Pampanga representative who is facing a plunder case over the alleged misuse of intelligence funds and electoral sabotage during her presidency.
Arroyo has been detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center since December 2011 due to her spine disease.
In her Facebook post, Disgruntled Filipina (a netizen who requested anonymity) wrote a letter to Clooney which read: “Dear Amal,Don’t dip your fingers into something you do not know the whole story of. I don’t mean to be rude but I thought you were an intelligent lady. What happened?”
Other netizens posted their comments saying they are shocked of the lawyer’s actions who “in the age of internet and easy access to information, chose to aid the worst president this country ever had.”
Waste of time
For their part, the regional chapters of Karapatan, Alliance for Human Rights and Gabriela Southern Mindanao said Clooney’s action is “a waste of time”.
“Although we recognize the heath condition of [former PGMA’s] in detention, we believe Atty. Clooney’s action is just a waste of time,” said Hanimay Suazo, secretary general of Karapatan in an interview with Davao Today on Monday.
“Sa kadaghan daghan og mga political activists, mga human rights defenders ug sa mga victims of human rights violations nga politically persecuted by the state, sila ang dapat i-prioritize dili si GMA (There are several political activists, human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations who are persecuted by the State. They should be the ones prioritized, not GMA),” Suazo said.
“As an international human rights lawyer, [Atty. Clooney] should know that GMA is the number 1 human rights violator during her administration and she should see the other human rights defenders who are incarcerated in various detention cells in the country because of trumped up and fabricated charges filed by the government,” she said.
Suazo cited the case of Vanessa delos Reyes, a former New People’s Army fighter who was injured in an encounter with military troops on May 2011 in Davao Oriental.
Delos Reyes is paralyzed from waist down due to a gunshot wound that has affected her spinal column. She is currently on bail.
Suazo said, although delos Reyes is on-bail “there is no more reason for her case to continue.”
“Her case is just one of the cases of around 500 political prisoners in the country that international lawyers like Atty. Amal Clooney should elevate to the United Nations,” Suazo said.
Meanwhile, Mary Ann Sapar said defending GMA is “unworthy” of the lawyer’s cause for human rights.
Sapar’s group, Gabriela, even hopes to have GMA sent to a regular detention cell.
“During her time in the presidency, GMA was not able to curb the price increase of rice which is the most basic commodity in the country,” Sapar said citing news reports that the National Food Authority under Arroyo’s term have mismanaged its inventories affecting over-importation of rice and surging rice prices.
“Aside from that, she has done a lot of crimes against the Filipino people, reason why she does not deserve to be released,” Sapar said.
Sapar said they find it unfair that “the likes of Arroyo, are receiving special treatment, while women political prisoners and others who are charged of common crimes, even though they are not guilty of it, but because they do not have the capacity to pay for good lawyers languish in jail.”
Gabriela Davao president, Dr. Jean Lindo added “GMA during her reign, never upheld the “rule of law” principle.”
“I cannot empathize with her but she (GMA) can file a complaint, after all, she is a citizen. She has yet to answer for all human rights violation perpetrated under her administration,” Lindo said.
Former UN Rapporteur report
Suazo cited the report of former United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston which was submitted to United Nations General Assembly on April 2008.
Alston visited the country from February 12 to 21 in 2007. Suazo said the report of Alston showed GMA’s accountability on the spate of killings of political activists in the country.
Karapatan recorded 1,205 victims of extrajudicial killings and 206 victims of enforced disappearances during the nine-year term of President Arroyo.
The summary of the report with addendum Mission to the Philippines narrated that “Many in the Government have concluded that numerous civil society organizations are “fronts” for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA). One response has been counter-insurgency operations that result in the extrajudicial execution of leftist activists.”
This, Suazo said “proves that Arroyo as the Commander-in-Chief should be held accountable with the killings.”
Other groups believe Clooney was “completely misinformed”.
“Atty. Amal is unfortunately completely misinformed and her and her spouse’s popularity and glamour are being used for an unscrupulous selfish agenda. Sadly, she is being fooled by forces out to rewrite history, distort reality, twist roles of perpetrator to victim, and reinvent international human rights law. The UN process is also being mocked and corrupted along the way,” said Atty. Edre U. Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.
“Filipino and Filipina human rights lawyers, victims and rights defenders are no doubt most willing to ask Mrs. and Mr. Clooney to sign up for justice for the hundreds of political detainees especially the poor who are very sick and old, the nursing mothers, the tortured, the disappeared, the summarily killed,” Olalia said.
Olalia said Clooney should have checked her facts and fight “for the real victims rather than the tormentors”.
Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares said they are asking Clooney to visit the country and “see for herself the plight of the nameless poor who are victims of injustice and human rights violations.” (davaotoday.com)