Updates on the Arroyo imbroglio

Apologies for not writing more about the current imbroglio with former Philippine president Arroyo and the Supreme Court. This is easily one of the biggest tests of the court’s independence over the past decade. News coverage has been wall-to-wall in the Philippines of course. Here are some excepts from an Asia Times piece – I’ll write more when I can:

The DoJ justified its move on the legal argument it had not yet received the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order when Arroyo arrived at the airport. The Supreme Court has since suggested it could file contempt charges against DoJ Secretary Leila de Lima, while pro-Arroyo attorneys are seeking de Lima’s disbarment for apparently flouting the Supreme Court’s decision.

In the court of public opinion, however, sentiment seems to be on Aquino’s side. Opinion polls show that both Arroyo and the Supreme Court are unpopular and suffer from credibility issues in the public eye. “It is no less corrupt than the rest of the Philippine judicial system,” quipped Pacific Strategies and Assessments, a risk analysis firm, in recent reference to the Supreme Court’s apparent role in protecting Arroyo from prosecution.

While the Supreme Court insists its decisions are consistent with the letter of the law, its record when ruling on cases involving the Arroyos has been overwhelmingly in the former first couple’s favor. Chief Justice Corona has voted 19 times in favor of the Arroyos and never in dissent since taking over the Supreme Court’s leadership. Two senators and a number of prominent individuals have recently asked Corona to inhibit himself from any future deliberations involving Arroyo to concerns of his impartiality.

The Supreme Court is currently holding oral arguments on petitions filed on the constitutionality of the DOJ-Commission on Elections (Comelec) joint panel, which recommended Arroyo’s prosecution for alleged electoral fraud in 2007. Based on that recommendation, an arrest warrant was issued by the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge against Arroyo, which puts to rest for now the question of whether she should be allowed to travel abroad.

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