Tough call for tough DOJ chief
While most Filipinos spent the long Halloween break with their dear departed in mind, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had one more thing to contemplate: The fate of ailing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The tough-talking justice secretary on Tuesday admitted that deciding whether or not to allow Arroyo to leave for abroad for medical treatment of her spine condition was difficult.
“I’m doing a lot of thinking, knowing fully well that it’s a tough decision to make,” said De Lima in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, is facing electoral sabotage charges along with her husband and several others in the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the alleged rigging of the 2007 midterm election results in Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces.
She was placed on the Bureau of Immigration watch list after a joint DOJ and Commission on Elections investigating panel recommended the filing of charges.
Although she was considering consulting certain government officials on the matter, De Lima said that what “will weigh very heavily” on her decision will be the report of Health Secretary Enrique Ona on Arroyo’s condition.
Ona visited Arroyo last Friday and is expected to submit his report to the DOJ Wednesday, De Lima said.
“I expect a written report from Secretary Ona (on) his evaluation of the medical abstract and personal visit to (Arroyo),” she said.
In an earlier interview, De Lima said she was being “careful” and was considering all factors to help her arrive at a judicious decision on Arroyo’s application for an allow-departure order.
“I’m weighing things. I have to be careful here. The decision should be correct. Some sectors will complain whether I allow her to leave or not,” she said.
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