Palace to UN body: Only PH courts can decide on Gloria Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Thursday, October 8, that while it "takes note" of the opinion of a prominent United Nations body on the case of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, only Philippine courts can rule with finality on  legal matters that involve her.

Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr made the statement shortly after Arroyo's lawyers released the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) that the former president's detention violates international law and is "arbitrary on a number of grounds."

"Former president GMA has been accorded such due process and has availed herself of various legal remedies under Philippine laws. It must be noted that there is an ongoing judicial process in the Philippine courts, which has sole jurisdiction to decide on such matters," Coloma said.

"The Philippine government or any international body, for that matter, cannot interfere nor influence the course of an independent judicial proceeding," he added.

Arroyo is serving her second term as Pampanga representative, but is under detention for plunder charges over the alleged misuse of P366 million ($8.2 million) by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during her presidency.

Malacañang said the Philippines "takes note of the Opinion" of the WDAG "and will prepare an appropriate response, according to WGAD's rules." It reiterated the Philippines' adherence to its international obligations in upholding human rights.

"The Philippines, as a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, abides by its international obligations and ensures that all individuals are accorded due process under its laws," Coloma said. –