Good morning Manila: The Arroyos are still in town

Drama unfolded prior to midnight when the former first couple were not allowed by the government to leave the country. Congresswoman Arroyo was then taken by ambulance to Saint Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig. The order by the Justice Department is in direct non-compliance with a Supreme Court decision issued late Tuesday allowing the former first couple to leave the country. The Supreme Court was not able to serve the Temporary Restraining Order with the Department of Justice as it was after 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and offices were closed. Naturally, a rolling debate ensured over social media.

Secretary Leila de Lima is adamant to keep the Arroyos in town. The Arroyos are very much interested in skipping town. For the obvious reason that the government intends to file charges against them.

When Gloria was president, she was adamant that the rule of law prevailed. The I’s were dotted and the T’s crossed. Procedural. By the Book.

It seems to me that Aquino’s government is the same. Yes, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order, but the government has not received it. Why should the government execute something it has not yet received? We’re a nation of laws, and not of men after all.

What is Gloria Arroyo’s rush to leave the country?

Looking at Mrs. Arroyo’s condition on television with all the braces around her neck, and that looks painful. Forgive me if I am not moved with sympathy. I know from experience how challenging it is to move about with the burden of illness around you, and how we react differently when told we are sick. Some of us fight for normalcy in our lives, some of us wallow in depression, and some of us squeeze every last drop of sympathy.

There are arguments to be made that the Supreme Court is the highest court of the land. There are rules to be followed, and laws to be enforced. It is the government’s duty that those laws be enforced regardless of the personal feelings of those in government. That didn’t change when Secretary de Lima prevented Mrs. Arroyo from traveling.

What’s clear in this drama is that at 5 o’clock in the afternoon the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a temporary restraining order. The order wasn’t received by the Department of Justice. Hence, it can not be obeyed just yet.

There are people of course who would clamor for Gloria Arroyo’s constitutional right to travel. To set a precedent in this issue is dangerous because it affects every politician from here on out. For us without the privilege to be powerful or rich, we have a government— institutionalized over years— that requires permission for its citizens to travel abroad. Just ask any Overseas Filipino Worker.

The combative nature of Secretary Leila de Lima is to be commended.

To some it may appear that the Executive Department is overshadowing the Judiciary. That barring Arroyo from travel heedless of the order from the Supreme Court could be grounds for impeachment. But isn’t it Mrs. Arroyo’s heavy hand on government itself that set this in play?

Why shouldn’t the same be applied to Mrs. Arroyo, who is a citizen just like you and me?

If you don’t like that— Mrs. Arroyo or her colleagues in Congress can pass a law changing it.

What’s your opinion?

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.