Arroyo seeking asylum in Dominican Republic?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is verifying information that former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has sought political asylum in the Dominican Republic.

Justice chief Leila de Lima said she will ask the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to check whether the Caribbean country, which has no extradition treaty with the Philippines, has already given the former President a passport.

The camp of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo on Thursday denied rumors he and his wife, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have sought political asylum in the Dominican Republic.

In a statement, Arroyo lawyer Ferdinand Topacio maintained that the former First Couple are prepared to face the string of charges the Aquino administration has leveled against them.

“We categorically deny that the former First Couple are holders of Dominican Passports, nor have they sought political asylum in any country. The First Gentleman has never been to the Dominican Republic,” he said.

However, Topacio confirmed in the statement that Mrs. Arroyo had been to the Dominican Republic.

The Arroyos have no intention of applying for passports or residency in the Caribbean state.

“I would not know where that information is coming from, na parang bibigyan ng asylum status. That is yet for verification. Definitely, we are verifying all these information,” she told reporters Thursday.

Promptly however, Elena Bautista-Horn, Mrs. Arroyo’s spokesperson, denied that the former President sought political asylum in the Dominican Republic. Bautista-Horn added their camp never identified the foreign country as one of their destinations in their plea to travel abroad to seek medical help for Mrs. Arroyo.

“Saan naman nanggaling iyan? Wala sa itinerary namin ‘yan, and we are all still Filipinos. We have not switched nationalities,” she said in a text message to GMA News’ Lia Mañalac.

De Lima, who earlier refused to issue an allow departure order for Mrs. Arroyo, said the DOJ could not ignore such information, which she said is becoming the basis for doubt on the true agenda for the former President’s travel request.

“What if tama yung hinala namin and this [Arroyo’s medical condition] is just a spectacle really to have a shield for their actual intention na takasan ang mga kasong ito? They can do anything, para to give it a legal cover,” she said.

Last May, Mrs. Arroyo was honored by Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez with the principal Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella, supposedly for her “high merits” in establishing bonds of friendship between the Philippines and Latin America.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that a person has the right to seek asylum in another country if his or her own country is persecuting him based on political or religious beliefs.

Watch list

Mrs. Arroyo is currently on the Immigration watch list in connection with electoral fraud and plunder cases filed against her over the past months.

An individual placed on the Immigration watch list must first ask the DOJ to lift the order before he or she can travel abroad. The person must also present the government-issued clearance before leaving the country. I

It is less restrictive than a hold departure order, which automatically bars an individual from leaving the country.

On Tuesday, the former President challenged before the Supreme Court the Immigration watch list order issued against her by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who earlier refused to issue an allow departure order for Mrs. Arroyo.

After De Lima announced her decision barring Mrs. Arroyo from going abroad, President Benigno Aquino III himself offered bringing in foreign specialists whose fees will be shouldered by the government to check on his predecessor — an offer the former President’s camp refused.

Mrs. Arroyo’s camp has repeatedly said that the former Philippine leader has no plans of fleeing from the charges filed against her, and that her plan to travel abroad is for the purpose of finding doctors to treat her bone mineral disorder and hypoparathyroidism. — with Andreo Calonzo/RSJ/KBK, GMA News

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  1. George Basa says:

    Buhay nga naman ng tao. Dating tigasin ngayon parang hindi makabasag ng itlog. Totoo ba ito o arte na naman. Inggat kayo mga kabayan dyan magaling ang mga arroyo, sa pangloloko.

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