November 16, 2011
As Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Juan Miguel Arroyo, are preparing to leave the Philippines to seek “medical treatment” for the former president, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan reminds the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice that it is the government’s obligation to ensure that the Arroyos return to the country to face the charges already filed against them.
“For the sake of the credibility and image of the Supreme Court, I hope that with their decision, the safeguards they have put in place will be sufficient to ensure that the Arroyos return because if they do not, then the Supreme Court must be prepared to take the flak from a public disgusted with abuse and corruption in government,” Pangilinan said yesterday.
The senator adds, “If they flee, it would be a slap on the face of the Blue Ribbon Committee which recommended the filing of graft charges against the former First Gentleman.” Pangilinan was referring to the filing of charges against Arroyo after the highly publicized “PNP chopper scam.”
He also pointed out another investigation that is being concluded, this time on the “Pajero” issue: “Also, the report on the PCSO investigation by the (Blue Ribbon) Committee is being finalized. The efforts of the committee would be for naught should they flee. Also it was recommended by the 13th Congress that GMA be held accountable in the mismanagement of the fertilizer fund during her term, as well as her involvement in the ZTE-NBN scandal.”
The senator continues, “The Senate itself has an interest in ensuring that the Arroyo couple does not flee, considering the time and effort we put into the investigation and, more importantly, the findings of wrongdoing that require accountability on their part. The senate has been criticized in the past as conducting investigations that lead to nowhere. If the Arroyos flee and refuse to return we would again have another set of investigations that would be for naught. The ZTE-NBN controversy, the fertilizer scam, the PNP choppers controversy all cry out for closure, all investigated by the Senate, all needing accountability on the part of the Arroyos.”
“It is in the interest of the Senate as an institution to view the matter of the right to travel of the Arroyos in a broader sense. We sifted through the evidence. We sat through hundreds of hours of testimonies. We secured documentary evidence as proof of wrongdoing. We were even brought to court on the issue of executive privilege precisely because we were interested in the truth. Given all these, we ought to do more than just accept the argument that the Arroyos are free to leave the country and that we cannot do anything about it. The same goes for the Supreme Court. The people deserve the truth and it may again evade us as if we allow the Arroyos to leave the country despite the fact that legal proceedings have already been instituted against them.”