BY AMADO P. MACASAET
‘This country has gone to the dogs. We are to blame for it?’
THE Supreme Court is expected to issue today a temporary restraining order against the Department of Justice over its refusal to lift the watch list/hold departure decision against Gloria Arroyo’s request to go abroad for medical treatment.
This much was hinted to ABC-CBN by Midas Marquez, spokesperson of the tribunal.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is expected to file a motion for reconsideration the moment she receives a copy of the order.
Sources told this space that President Aquino himself has instructed the Bureau of Immigration to hold Gloria Arroyo in the airport if she should attempt to go abroad on the strength of a TRO that is subject of a motion for reconsideration.
The possibility is Chief Justice Renato Corona himself will issue the TRO since the en banc is on vacation and will resume session on Monday, Nov. 14. The hurry that may attend the issuance of the order indicates how hell-bent the Chief Justice is on accommodating the petition filed by spouses Jose Miguel Arroyo and Gloria M. Macapagal.
The Court is said to have designated a ponente on the case but it is likely that Mr. Corona will not wait for the en banc. He will issue the TRO himself presumably to deny the Department of Justice the time to file a motion for reconsideration and allow Gloria Arroyo to leave upon knowing – not necessarily upon receipt – that a TRO has been issued.
The worst possible scenario is if the TRO is issued late Friday, Nov. 11. The DOJ may not have enough time to file its motion for reconsideration. It is entirely possible that if the MR is filed on Monday, the day the en banc is to resume session, Gloria Arroyo may well be on a plane for abroad.
However, this may not necessarily happen if Secretary De Lima stops Mrs. Arroyo from leaving. right in the airport.
The other dire possibility is the Chief Justice or the Supreme Court may well be within their rights to cite De Lima –not the President who is immune from suit while in office – for contempt for violating the TRO.
Since a ponente is said to have been designated by the Court to deliberate on the TRO, it is also possible that the en banc will start dissecting the issue on Monday, Nov. 14.
We gathered from sources in the Court that so far, Gloria Arroyo has the assurance of support of eight justices. The TRO will be issued either by the Chief Justice or the en banc.
The Department of Justice will file a memorandum for reconsideration upon receipt of a copy of the TRO. The problem is if the order is issued late Friday by the Chief Justice or the ponente should Mr. Corona decide to call the en banc in session while on vacation.
That would save him the embarrassment of acting unilaterally on the petition for which a ponente has been designated.
We do not hear word from the Department of Justice that at least one of six plunder charges has been filed by today. If that is done the Department of Justice can raise the issue of the danger of flight.
The issue is no longer concern for Gloria’s health which is not for the Court to determine. The issue is that the Supreme Court seems to be bent on allowing the former President to make a “flight to safety.”
It should be clearly noted that Mrs. Arroyo or her physicians are not known to have submitted the medical records of the patient to the doctors who are supposed to attend to her abroad.
If the foreign physicians declare that Health Secretary Enrique Ona is wrong in saying that the former president’s life is not in danger, there would be no reason for the Supreme Court to interfere in the case.
President Aquino already knows that Mrs. Arroyo has been handed asylum documents to the Dominican Republic. Therefore, the purpose of issuing the TR0 is for Gloria Arroyo to enjoy freedom that attends asylum.
She would not care if she is tried and convicted in absentia. What she cares most about is she avoids the wrath of the law by escaping to a safe haven like the Dominican Republic with which the Philippines does not have an extradition treaty.
This, however, does not sit squarely with the widespread suspicion that Mrs. Arroyo has the Supreme Court in her pocket. Acquittal from all charges would damage the image of the Court.
She would prefer a trial and conviction in absentia. The Supreme Court has the capability of facilitating it by issuing a TRO and dismissing the motion for reconsideration filed by the Department of Justice.
This country has gone to the dogs. We are to blame for it?