Take firmer stand on Arroyo, Aquino told
Lawyer Francisco Chavez on Monday called on President Benigno Aquino III to take a “firmer stand” on the ticklish issue of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s request to travel outside the country to seek medical treatment.
Speaking with the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone, the former solicitor general said the President should take an active role and make a firmer stand on this issue. By (doing so), it means that the President really means business,” Chavez said in an overseas call.
He defended Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who had been at the receiving end of criticism from Arroyo’s political allies for her decision to defer action on Arroyo’s application for an “allow-departure order.”
“This is not a question of who is the frontliner. In an issue like this, it really has to be the President,” Chavez said, adding:
“It would give him more (approval) points because in making such a sensitive decision involving national interest, it would show that he can be very decisive.”
As for the claims of Arroyo’s camp that De Lima’s preventing her from leaving the country did not have constitutional basis, Chavez said Mr. Aquino must make use of “decisional law” in justifying the travel ban.
He said the President can cite the “faithful execution clause” of the Constitution which gives the Chief Executive the power to “ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.”
Chavez recalled that the Supreme Court backed the constitutionality of the faithful execution clause when it upheld in 1989 the authority of the administration of President Corazon Aquino not to issue a passport to Ferdinand Marcos, then on self-exile in Hawaii.
On the other hand, Arroyo has won the support of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
“We call on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to act with haste and set aside the watch list order imposed against former President Arroyo by virtue of humanitarian considerations,” said Valenzuela Representative Rex Gatchalian, NPC spokesperson.
He said the government should “trust” the former president who promised to return once her treatment is completed.
Trust, however, seems to be a problem for Senator Francis Pangilinan, a former ally of Arroyo.
“The former president is hardly known for being transparent and any doubts cast upon her has basis considering her history,” Pangilinan said.
He said Arroyo had “brought upon herself her current predicament.”
Akbayan party-list Representative Kaka Bag-ao called on De Lima to ensure that Arroyo would not escape investigation for electoral fraud.
Gabriela party-list Representative Emmi de Jesus said the continuing debate on whether or not Arroyo should be allowed to seek treatment abroad was an affront to Filipino medical specialists who claim that the technology and skills to address her medical condition are available locally.
San Juan Representative JV Ejercito sent a text message to the Inquirer to say he was not surprised that Arroyo’s lawyer would tell him and other critics to just shut up. “They have run out of excuses to justify her travel overseas,” he said.
Malacañang declined to further comment on the issue, urging media to just await the decision of the justice secretary. With reports from Cathy Yamsuan, Cynthia Balana, Christine Avendaño and Gil Cabacungan
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