De Lima: No proof of GMA Dominican Republic asylum

November 11, 2011

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday admitted that the government has no clear proof that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would seek political asylum in Dominican Republic.

In a chance interview, De Lima said she received the information regarding Mrs. Arroyo’s asylum only thru a forwarded SMS message, and she doesn’t even know the identity of the sender.

“Kung may nakuha akong information about Dominican Republic? Sabi ko oo, nakatanggap ako ng text so I’m verifying it. I don’t even know who’s the source of text kasi finorward lang sa akin,” De Lima said.

De Lima disclosed that once she gets any information during the verification, she would immediately disclose it in public.

The other day, De Lima bared that Mrs. Arroyo along with her equally-controversial husband, former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, is planning to seek political asylum in the said country.

“We are verifying this information. This is something we can’t ignore,” she stressed.

De Lima stressed Mrs. Arroyo’s objective was pretty obvious — to evade prosecution and a possible non-bailable jail term.

Incidentally, the Philippines has no extradition treaty with Dominican Republic.

But De Lima clarified that this information has yet to be verified and that she would coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs for this purpose.

Meanwhile, Malacañang expressed optimism that the Supreme Court would issue a fair judgment on the petition filed by former President Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to allow them to travel abroad.

“We’ve always expected the Supreme Court to be fair and independent-minded when it comes to issues that confront them… and in this particular issue, we hope that they will see the merits of our arguments and see that the government’s response is reasonable and reflects the sentiments of the Filipino people as a whole,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing yesterday  in Malacañang.

Mrs. Arroyo, who is now Pampanga second district representative and her husband Mike, are seeking a TRO on the watchlist order issued against them by the justice department. The former leader wants to leave abroad to seek medical treatment.

The Palace found an ally yesterday after Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo issued a statement saying “fair judgment, not vindictiveness,” should prevail vis a vis Arroyo’s petition.

Pabillo said it is important that the people seek the truth in this issue and they shouldn’t be overcome by vindictiveness or revenge to make someone suffer even more. Pabillo chairs the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines   National Secretariat for Social Action.

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