Iggy’s remains go to partner, UK court rules

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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But the legal wife camp questions the UK court's custody over the case, saying Philippine law has jurisdiction

MANILA, Philippines – Negros Occidental Rep Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo’s common-law wife, Grace Ibuna, has won the rights over his remains after a London court ruled in her favor, according to an ANC report Tuesday, February 21.

The UK court recognized Arroyo’s supposed last will that gives Ibuna, instead of Aleli, the rights over his remains. The will is part of the evidence presented in London.

Rappler is still trying to reach the camp of Arroyo’s legal wife, Alicia Arroyo, as of posting time.

In an earlier phone interview, Arroyo’s lawyer, Kapunan, questioned the London court’s jurisdiction over the case. She said Philippine law, which gives the legal wife the rights over a person’s remains, should prevail. 

“It’s a principle of law that you are covered by the laws of your citizenship… You do not cease to be Filipino. Philippine law follows you wherever you go,” Kapunan said.

Alicia’s camp has therefore refused to testify before the London court.

Legal showdown

The 2 women’s claims over Arroyo’s remains have triggered a legal showdown that could prove instructive for Filipinos entangled in similar cases.

LEGAL SHOWDOWN. The women left behind by Rep Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo have waged a court battle over inheritance and his remains.

Last week, lawyers of Ibuna and Alicia presented arguments before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court after the latter filed for an injunction to gain custody over Arroyo’s remains.

Ibuna’s lawyer, Leonard de Vera, cited Article 307 of the Civil Code in upholding his client’s claims.

“The funeral shall be in accordance with the expressed wishes of the deceased,” Article 307 says.

Bago mo ibigay ang karapatan sa asawa na mag-decide, alamin mo muna kung merong ipinahayag na kagustuhan ang namatay,” De Vera said in a recent interview aired on ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol. (Before you give the wife the right to decide, know first if the deceased had an expressed will.)

For her part, Kapunan has cited Article 305 of the Civil Code in defending her client’s right over Arroyo’s remains.

“The duty and the right to make arrangements for the funeral of a relative shall be in accordance with the order established for support, under Article 294,” the Civil Code says.

Arroyo, also known as Jose Pidal, died in London on January 26. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com