Amal Clooney earns ire of Filipino lawyers, netizens over reported UN bid to free Arroyo

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“We ask Atty. Clooney to visit the Philippines and see for herself the plight of nameless poor who are victims of injustice and human rights violations.”


MANILA — Filipino lawyers and netizens criticized British lawyer Amal Alamuddin-Clooney for her reported move to elevate the detention of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the United Nations.

“After all, what could be more beautiful if not sublime than checking one’s facts thoroughly and independently, seeing the bigger picture of the gross human rights violations and unbridled corruption of one’s client, and fighting for the real victims rather than the tormentors,” Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said in a statement.

Olalia said Clooney might be “clueless” and misinformed, adding that she and her husband’s popularity and glamour “might be used for an unscrupulous selfish agenda.”

The international lawyer is incidentally married to Hollywood celebrity George Clooney.

So far, only the Arroyo’s camp has confirmed Clooney’s bid to bring Arroyo’s case before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The former president is currently under hospital arrest over alleged misuse of funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Committee held the Arroyo government and now retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan guilty for the killing of activists Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy back in 2004.

The said committee, Olalia said, found the Arroyo government to have violated “the right to life of every person, the right to liberty and security of persons and the rights to effective remedies under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

“Amal, be on the side of the poor and downtrodden, not the scheming rich and famous who can misdirect you into cluelessly playing the role of a person of no substance,” Olalia said.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said that while they are glad that Clooney is concerned with rights violations in the Philippines, “it is best that she also raise the issue of human rights violations of the poor and powerless,” citing cases extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal detention and arrest among the ranks of activists.

“We ask Atty. Clooney to visit the Philippines and see for herself the plight of nameless poor who are victims of injustice and human rights violations,” said Colmenares, who is also the chairperson of NUPL.

Karapatan had documented at least 1,200 victims of extrajudicial killings and 200 victims of enforced disappearances during the nine years of Arroyo’s presidency.

Netizens, for their part, criticized Clooney and asked her to represent the marginalized instead. They also stressed that the former president is no victim but a violator of human rights.

Some questioned if the international lawyer even knows the widely-reported abuses by Arroyo as president of nine years. Others, on the other hand, has expressed disbelief.


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