KMU warned that Akbayan seems to be helping out in the “slow but sure return of open cordial relations between former allies Arroyo and Aquino.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Almost four years into his term, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has yet to win a case of plunder against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who stepped down in 2010 with record unpopularity ratings and allegations of election cheating and corruption.
This week, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno questioned the Akbayan partylist over its publicized support for allowing the former president and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s to post bail. The labor group warned that Akbayan’s call, aired by its representative Walden Bello last Sunday, is a signal for “open rapprochement between Arroyo’s camp and Pres. Benigno Noynoy Aquino III’s camp, to which Akbayan is allied at present.”
Macapagal-Arroyo has been seeking to post bail in one of her plunder cases. While the public is riveted to new revelations about a long-running pork scam involving billions, four plunder cases against Arroyo have been junked by the Ombudsman. Arroyo is currently being held at Veterans Memorial Medical Center in lieu of a jail, owing to her health condition, according to her lawyers.
In a statement, KMU vice chairman Lito Ustarez conceded that while Arroyo’s posting of bail may be legal, “It is the height of legalistic narrow-mindedness to say that she should be allowed to post bail on the basis of a single case.” Arroyo’s bail petition is in relation to her plunder case stemming from the alleged misuse of funds of the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office.
Ustarez said “Arroyo committed numerous and grave crimes against the Filipino workers and people.” As such, he said, they are “disgusted,” though not surprised, that a group such as Akbayan which claims to be critical of Arroyo could explicitly support her bid for freedom.
The labor leader recalled that Akbayan “only distanced itself from Arroyo at the height of the ‘Hello Garci’ scandal in 2005, despite the former chief executive’s anti-poor and pro-US policies and the reign of impunity under her term which recorded numerous extra-judicial killings and other human-rights violations.”
“It is not surprising for Akbayan to make this pro-Arroyo call. It is after all close to Arroyo and it has been desperately clinging to various factions of the country’s economic and political elites despite its claims of being progressive,” Ustarez added.
As the Aquino government itself is getting entangled now in issues of corruption, KMU warned that Akbayan seems to be helping out in the “slow but sure return of open cordial relations between former allies Arroyo and Aquino.”
GMA does not deserve bail – Akbayan
I was interviewed in a current affairs program last week, and according to reports following that program, I agreed that Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should be granted bail. It is unfortunate that these reports misrepresent my statements in the interview.
In my view, Mrs. Arroyo is guilty. In fact, I believe that the evidence against her is strong, and her involvement in plunder is obvious. This is precisely why my party, Akbayan, went to the Sandiganbayan and filed the PCSO plunder case against her. And with strong conviction, I believe she must not be granted bail.
The nation is at a crucial juncture in history; the public has risen against massive corruption, then against Mrs. Arroyo and her family’s involvement in various scandals, and now, with the expose on Napoles and the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam that put a majority of the nation’s elected officials under grave public scrutiny. The fight against the abuse of public office is coming to a head; now more than ever, the people demand accountability and justice for what seems to be institutionalized corruption in public office. Now more than ever, we cannot, as a people, afford to look away from Mrs. Arroyo’s transgressions. As I said in the interview, the GMA years were 9 years of unmitigated corruption, morally bankrupt leadership, and the exploitation of national coffers for personal gain. Now more than ever, the government must meet the people’s demand for justice.
What I said in the interview was that I could not understand why the Sandiganbayan had dismissed the different plunder cases against Arroyo since in preparing the impeachment cases against her in 2009, we in the House of Representatives found the cases of plunder to be quite strong. While discussing the PCSO case, the two other participants in the interview said that Mrs. Arroyo deserved to be granted bail since the other accused co-conspirators had been allowed to post bail. I responded that I believed the Sandiganbayan’s claim that its case against Mrs. Arroyo is strong. However, I said that the Sandiganbayan could not simply say that the evidence against Mrs. Arroyo is “implicit.” I said that to assure the people that the continued incarceration of Mrs. Arroyo is justified, the Sandiganbayan has to make the implicit evidence against Mrs. Arroyo explicit, and that I would go personally go to the Sandiganbayan to request this.
At no point did I say that Mrs. Arroyo was being unjustly persecuted, as stated in an article reporting that I supported granting Mrs. Arroyo bail. Indeed, Akbayan believes that Mrs. Arroyo is guilty of plunder, not only in the PCSO case but in the other cases that have been brought against her.
Akbayan makes the commitment to take the Sandiganbayan to task. The Sandiganbayan must rise to the challenge and prove that it takes the side of the people in this quest for justice. It must make the implicit evidence against Mrs. Arroyo explicit to assure the public that her continued internment was fair, just, and in accordance with the law. The Sandiganbayan must reinforce the strong evidence against Mrs. Arroyo and prove beyond doubt that bail is not an option. In doing so, we take the first concrete step toward Mrs. Arroyo’s conviction.