"Amal Clooney may not have all the facts about Maria Ressa"
I used to be a fan of Mrs. Clooney. Yes, the lawyer-wife of actor George Clooney, Counsellor Amal Clooney.
At a time when Noynoy Aquino was lording it all over the country, controlling all three branches of government in the name of his supposed battle for good governance, which in reality was a personal persecution of his perceived enemies, Amal Clooney dared defy him and stood for former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom Aquino, through his cohorts, made sure to suffer time under hospital arrest.
Mrs. Arroyo endured her ordeal and was rewarded her much-deserved acquittal given the lack of any evidence against her. She pushed through with responsibilities as a lawmaker, retiring from politics as Speaker of the 17th Congress—and thanks partly to Amal for helping enlighten the international community on the former president’s sad plight.
But that was then. Now Amal might have ventured on the wrong side by taking the case of Rappler’s Maria Ressa.
As lawyer Larry Gadon says, Amal may not have been given the full disclosure of the facts and background in connection to Ressa’s cases.
Gadon recalled that his experience the Philippine counterpart coordinating lawyer with Amal and her associates, he had the chance to witness how Amal was thorough and diligent in digging into the details of Mrs. Arroyo’s plunder case.
Working with Amal on the Arroyo case, Gadon said he provided the former with all the relevant and material facts to the case and many times they communicated with him through telephone and emails, asking for minute details of relevant issues., including copies of relevant and material records and documents from Sandiganbayan and Ombudsman.
“Nothing was spared because as a lawyer I was aware that disclosure of all facts and records would be necessary to come up with proper legal position on the controversy,” Gadon says.
And as Amal’s involvement in Mrs. Arroyo’s case was the issue on the refusal of the Sandiganbayan to grant her bail despite the utter lack of evidence of the prosecution, and despite the fact that all co-accused have been granted bail, it helped raise a clear conclusion that the human rights of the former president were indeed violated.
However, Amal’s handling of Ressa’s case might be different as Gadon said Amal might be completely unaware of the real background of Ressa’s cyber libel case. There is a private complainant in this case who has a right to seek justice for whatever transgression and violation committed against him by the Rappler CEO.
And as far the other case of tax evasion, Gadon insists that at the very onset it cannot be deemed as a political persecution for a lot of big businessmen and huge corporations with much bigger tax liabilities also face same tax collection issues and cases. They do not cry human rights violation or political persecution.
“Whatever, these can hardly be deemed as political persecution,” says Gadon.
While in the case of Mrs. Arroyo, Amal was provided with all the relevant facts and records, Gadon says that in Ressa’s case, she might “have been provided with biased information coming from a biased writer or columnist from a biased news outfit.”
In other words, some groups opposed to the administration may have been using Ressa’s case to undermine the present administration and that Amal is being misled as they believe she maybe one of the best person whom they could use to project political persecution, this time against the administration’s supposed perceived enemies.
And since Ressa could find it hard to link her cases to alleged political persecution against her, Gadon suggests it would be best for her camp to give a full disclosure of the issues, facts and records of her cases as it might even serve her better and to provide Amal a wider perspective of the issues.
By doing such, Gadon says, Amal might even find another angle to develop her defense.