The news that Amal Alamuddin-Clooney has taken up the case of our befallen former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been making rounds on filipino social media and the reaction seems to be the same everywhere.
“What the hell is Amal Alamuddin-Clooney thinking?”
A lot of people are outrage, ‘How dare she choose to defend that criminal!’ they say, or that Alamuddin is a fool being played by GMA’s camp. There has been a lot of talk from people saying Alamuddin should look at cases of the truly poor and down trodden in the Philippines instead and have sited cases of extrajudicial killings, siting the Magindanao Massacre specifically.
This tends to be quite frustrating when you’ve got a Lawful Good alignment because it’s increasingly difficult to explain why criminals (or those accused) deserve to have their rights protected, given the current state of justice in the Philippines.
The first thing people need to realize is that Amal is a Defense attorney. With cases like the Magundanao Massacre, and extra judicial killings, Amal’s not going to be of much use if we wanted those responsible prosecuted. One defense lawyer is not going to do anything to resolve the broken justice system we have in this country.
It is not because of better lawyers that the Ampatuans have not yet been found guilty of the massacre of 38 innocent people. Even if you say she would bring more attention to it, what would that solve? We’re all pretty damn aware of it. We’ve just got a broken system.
And here’s where those of us who argue for due process even more flack: even someone who may be thought of as evil or beyond redemption have inalienable rights. And given Amal’s track record, you can easily interpret that likewise, she thinks that even if you are a ‘bad guy’ or criminal, your human rights must still be protected.
As the adage goes, a nation should be judged not by it treats the highest of it’s citizens, but it’s lowest. While a lot of people interpret that as just being the impoverished and the marginalized, many Filipinos fail to count prisoners and criminals into that, which is surprising because it was in the context of prison that Nelson Mandela gave that quote.
You do not need to believe GMA is innocent to believe that she deserves justice. What this should be to those complaining should not be to perpetuate this broken system when used against those we consider our enemies, but to remedy the issues that allow it to come to this point to begin with.
If we value justice, we should not be selective and find it acceptable when it happens to people we don’t like or trust. Whether or not you believe the current administration was not as bad as the last, we should be able to realize that two wrongs do not make a right.
If her prosecutors cannot, under due process, justify any punishment they inflict on her, then they have no right to continue doing it.