A slippery slope

By Dean Tony La Vina

Let me begin this column on the Arroyo travel ban controversy with two assertions. First, I like President Aquino and support most of his policies and initiatives, including his peace policy, the economic and anti-poverty measures his administration has taken, and yes, his unrelenting, aggressive pursuit to hold accountable former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for alleged corrupt acts and political misdeeds (like the electoral sabotage of 2007). I certainly do not believe that the President is motivated by personal vendetta against Arroyo, nor is he being hard-hearted as shown by the offer to pay for bringing in international medical experts of her choice to Manila. Second, I hold and continue to hold in high esteem Secretary of Justice Leila De Lima. I have been a big admirer of her since she was chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights. I consider Secretary De Lima as one of the most competent and committed public servants in the current administration.

But on this issue of disallowing Arroyo to travel abroad for medical reasons, both President Aquino and Secretary De Lima are wrong.  Read on


  1. manuelbuencamino

    So I guess if I murder, rape or rob somebody and I am only under investigation then the best option for me is to leave before I can be arraigned. Just do a Ramona Bautista and I’m free as a bird.

    • the flip side is: if you DIDNT rape and murder someone, but is being investigated for an unspecified length of time, you can’t leave either.

      why dont we consider this reform — it will always be possible to try someone in absentia. if the defendant doesnt want to be there, then that voids his right to be there.

        • orlando, i dont get the logic of the difference. IF the defendant refuses to be there, why does that halt the process? it defies logic.

          i understand that its a safeguard against the state railroading a trial. but if the defendant himself refuses to attend, this should not be able to stop anything.

          • usually, an accused is around because he’s detained or on bail. you can’t try a fugitive because due process requires a court to have jurisdiction over the person of the accused, and jurisdiction attaches at arraignment. but after that, if the accused skips, he can be properly convicted.

          • orlando,

            “jurisdiction attaches at arraignment” why? why doesnt jurisdiction attach automatically anytime a crime happens between 2 citizens? it makes no sense; that rule is incredibly arbitrary and unfair to those who dont have the power to leave.

            you can’t try a fugitive — why not? whats the reason? if one is a fugitive, one by defnition is escaping the law. why doesnt that mean you waive your right to direct your own defense?

            very little of this makes any sense to me.

      • manuelbuencamino

        Gabby the flaw in your argument is the phrase “being investigated for an unspecified length of time”. It happened to me during martial law and even under martial law the authorities were ordered to stop after their investigation reached a dead end and it was obvious that they were only keeping the case open for purposes of harassment.

  2. On the TRO, how do you solve the problem of injustice to the public IF it turns out that GMA simply wants to escape the Philippine jurisdiction? I submit that a constitutional crisis could have been avoided in at least two ways. One, the Executive lets GMA leave but the SC8 who voted for the TRO would agree to resign if GMA were to violate a court order commanding her to return to the country. Alternatively, GMA could do the statesman thing by waiting for substantive debate on the legality of DOJ orders.

    On the more substantive issue of the right to travel, it seems that we have a Faustian bargain. As an ordinary person, I would like my constitutional guarantee on travel. But what use is that guarantee if it also means that local politicians can continue to abuse public office?

    Why can’t we have a better right to travel for ordinary persons, and a somewhat lesser right for incumbent and former public officers? The SC has already properly allowed a lesser right to privacy for public figures; it could do a similar “carve out” on the right to travel.

  3. the rush to leave last night, is that a measure of (a) how badly she wants better medical help, or (b) how badly she wants to escape arraignment.

    clearly she has a serious health prob and all this stress (no matter how she brought it all upon herself) can’t be helping her recovery any. but last night’s drama doesnt sit well. brought back memories of the time erap was arrested and photos of him posing for mug shots released, and how angry the masa got, and we all know where that led.

    this is the same gma who conspired with generals to oust erap, and she must have been taking her cue from edsa one. trying to jack up sympathy and anger, and perhaps street protests on her behalf now, is like taking cue from edsa tres.

    last night she was clearly courting media and crowds to come and see how sick and pathetic she looks. but she was also courting disaster. she looked so vulnerable, her supposedly-sensistive neck unprotected, open to all kinds of accidents atbp.

    i wonder who was directing the whole production. the statements from her horn about the return of martial law and jabs at the aquino admin’s vindictiveness seemed scripted and coordinated with that of other pro-gma peeps.

  4. watching dos por dos. taberna and baja think the only way aquino admin can redeem itself is to arraign and lock up gma right now. otherwise question remains, whys due process taking so long. me ebidensiya ba talaga, ke plunder ke electoral ang kaso.

  5. The next Supreme Court TRO will be against the Joint DOJ-COMELEC Committee created to investigate the 2007 election frauds. Libre na naman si Goyang dito.

    And then another TRO on the Fertilizer Scam, and then another, and then another….so on and so forth.

    The Supreme Court of the land gripping the State/government in a vice-grip hold to foil the implementation by the government of a corrupt-free society.

    A constitutional crisis situation could be the only step to test which is the better option for the best interests of the nation.

  6. @bert:=({ the present crisis shows this cute pigmy has the legal numbers at the SC to protect her misdeed and madness. Here again, critics of govt want the current administration to be champions of double standards of justice, one for the ordinary and another for the untouchables. Its very obvious, she doesnt need foreign medical experts.
    I doubt Dean TLV’s contention that it is dangerous if the right of an individual is sacrificed against the right of the state to protect the interest of the majority to get the full measure of justice against a tyrant and a despot. We are in mess and constantly in a crisis because we whine too much but we dont respect authority that doesnt suit our taste and intelligence.

  7. gloria had pinched nerve in the neck threatening paralysis below the neck. She had operations and titanium implants were used to stabilize the neck.

    Then came osteoporosis telling us that her bones are fragile. Added to that are the hypoparathyroidism which causes calcium imbalance and the possibility of a RARE metabolic bone disorder (the reason for the metabolic bone biopsy only available abroad according to her Horn) that may lead to further bone destruction. Both threaten the success of the operation. Failed neck stability will eventually lead to lifelong disability.

    Nowhere can I see a threatened life other than having a COMFORTABLE life. This means there is no life-and-death situation that requires a race for time.

    The Minerva brace is doing its work at present, i.e., to stabilize her neck while healing takes effect in 3-months time (last operation was in September; brace may be removed in December…possibly in jail?).

    The insult to gloria’s bone because of the late diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism and/or possible, and I repeat, possible RARE metabolic bone disorder already overtook her lifetime (including the stolen time of her “presidency”). Why were they racing for time?

    gloria’s condition is in jeopardy right now because of fluctuating blood pressure. Hypertension is proven to be a life-threatening condition and it’s a race for time to really control the condition.

    Yet, gloria herself didn’t consent for a buzzer-beating clinic appointment today with a Singaporean specialist. Well, travel definitely is ill-advised considering the life-threatening diagnosis at the moment. Besides, local medical specialists can easily control gloria’s BP to normal.

    The point here is this:

    Life not threatened by a SUSPECTED diagnosis, go abroad. A race for time.

    Life threatened by an ACTUAL diagnosis, stay here. Suddenly, gloria can wait.

    This is further irony, or aptly, titaniumly to Congresswoman gloria’s colorful saga!

    (This inconsistency is beside the fact that “Ang WLO ay legal noon, ang WLO ay ilegal na ngayon!“)

  8. suddenly occurs to me, after hearing gerry baja ask erin tanada about “people power” talk in behalf of gloria — quite unlikely that the masses would sympathize that much. hindi sila nakaka-relate doon sa notion of going abroad for medical treatment kasi wala naman silang option na ganyan. ang nakakarelate diyan ay ang mayayaman lang.

  9. the Supremes already gave us a signal by hurriedly issuing the TRO in the first place.

    today, the Supremes will just order:

    “de Lima, let arroyo leave.

    Immediately follow

    The Ramona Option*.”

    *plagiarized from manuelbuencamino blog

  10. hi gabby. re arraignment. an accused has the right to be informed of the charge – Art. III, Sec. 14(2) of the Constitution. Otherwise, you can have a regime with a secret police who can manufacture a charge and try you without your knowledge.