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De Lima likes GMA lawyers probed for alleged harrassment of doctors

GMA lawyers (from left to right) Raul Lambino, Ferdinand Topacio and Jose Flaminiano
GMA lawyers (from left to right) Raul Lambino, Ferdinand Topacio and Jose Flaminiano

MANILA, Philippines (Nov 28, 2011) – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has joined the calls of militant lawmakers for an investigation into alleged harrassment of the doctors of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by her lawyers aimed at hiding Arroyo’s real medical conditionn and bolstering the legal arguments of her camp.

Earlier, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano,  Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan,  Gabriela, Rep. Emmi de Jesus and ACT Teachers’ party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio - all members of the progressive bloc in the House of Representatives - called for possible investigation of the Supreme Court and Integrated Bar of the Philippines against Arroyo’s lawyers Jose Flaminiano, Raul Lambino and Ferdinand Topacio for the alleged “grand deception to hide the real condition of Arroyo.”

The militant lawmkers are one in their stand that the former president deserves to go to jail and oppose an alternative house arrest for her.

“The alleged harassment of their own doctors is of course a very serious matter that needs to be looked into,” De Lima said in a text message yesterday.

De Lima explained that forcing doctors to issue false medical certificates - just as what the lawyers alleged did to Arroyo’s doctors - “smacks of grave coercion, if not obstruction of justice.”

“Their (doctors’) rights are being grossly violated,” she pointed out.

Apart from SC and IBP, the justice secretary believes that the intervention of the Philippine Medical Association on this issue would be required.

De Lima said the battle of credibility was already resolved by the testimony of Arroyo’s doctors when they faced the RTC last Friday and said their patient was recovering well and ready to be discharged from hospital.

“If the doctors confirmed that her condition was not life-threatening, it only proved that (Arroyo’s) camp has been lying and that’s not contemplated in the rules. The act of lying then affects their reputation,” she said.

One of Arroyo’s doctors from St. Luke’s Medical Center, orthopedic surgeon Mario Ver, told the court that Arroyo is now recovering and may be treated as an outpatient. Arroyo’s other doctors are Juliet Gopez-Cervantes and Roberto Mirasol.

The DOJ chief believes that the determination of the true health condition of Mrs. Arroyo was crucial not only to the issue of her detention but also to the resolution of cases in the Supreme Court about the legality of her earlier order preventing the flight of the former president.

De Lima is expected to face the Supreme Court on Thursday on the third part of the oral arguments on Arroyo’s petition questioning her earlier watchlist order that stopped them from leaving the country.

She said she would raise this issue on the real condition of Mrs. Arroyo to justify her decision to deny the latter’s request for an allow departure order.

Meanwhile, she also denied yesterday an allegation that she was pressuring the judge handling the electoral sabotage case against Rep. Arroyo into denying the latter’s bid for house arrest.

She belied the reported insinuation of Topacio that she had sent Pasay City regional trial court Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas a letter warning against granting house arrest to the ailing former leader.

“That’s not true at all. There’s no such letter,” she said in a text message.

Topacio said they were checking on information that the justice secretary committed such a “highly improper” act that shows “the executive bullying the judiciary.”

But De Lima believes the camp of Arroyo was already resorting to fiction just to take away the real issue, that is, the real health condition of Mrs. Arroyo.

“It’s either they’re imagining things or deliberately foisting such a lie in order to discredit me,” she said.

She has already expressed reservations to the proposed house arrest for Arroyo, which she said lacks supporting evidence and could be perceived by the public as special treatment.

In an interview, she has advised Mupas to be extra-careful in deciding on the request.

“Is it not possible to have her detained in a facility with all needed amenities and that’s comfortable enough for her rather than house arrest? This administration really wants to avoid that perception - that it is giving special treatment to her (Arroyo),” she said.

De Lima asked Mupas to carefully weigh both sides before deciding on the request, including the “true medical condition” of Arroyo as a factor.

“That’s really up to the decision of the court. The issue is really before the RTC and it’s the court’s discretion already, but it should be based on substantive consideration,” she said.

The RTC is expected to rule on the issue this week. (From