Consul General confirms Amal Clooney’s UN petition, first PHL government official to do so

By Cristina DC Pastor

Something unfamiliar happened during a press briefing of Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. with members of the Filipino American Press Club of New York.

He was asked about an alleged petition filed by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney before the UN calling for the release from detention of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for health reasons. Published reports said Clooney, who is married to popular actor George Clooney, accused the Aquino Government of “political persecution” with the continued detention of Arroyo despite her health condition. Arroyo is said to be suffering from a spinal ailment.

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. The FilAm Photo

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. The FilAm Photo

“I don’t know anything about that; we have to verify it,” De Leon told members of the press club.

He called on a consular officer to check with the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, which holds office in the same building as the Philippine Consulate on Fifth Avenue, if such a petition had indeed been filed.

Several minutes later, the officer came back with a confirmation.

“Ok, it’s been verified,” De Leon announced as the briefing was going on. “According to the Philippine Mission, a petition has been filed.”

De Leon’s statement is the first confirmation coming from an official of the Philippine Government. All statements about the petition have come from a lawyer for Arroyo. Modesto Ticman announced the petition was submitted before the UN Working Group on Involuntary and Arbitrary Detention on Feb. 26. He has been the spokesman for this international effort.

Arroyo has been in detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center since December 2011 over a plunder case involving $8.28 million in intelligence funds during her presidency, according to the Rappler website.

De Leon offered no additional information. But he made a personal comment that, like any other lawyer, Clooney has every right to defend anyone.

“She has all the rights of a lawyer to do that,” he said.

Some of Clooney’s clients are high-profile personalities, such as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange currently in exile in Ecuador and Al-Jazeera journalists accused of aiding terrorists.

In his press briefing, dubbed the Congen Hour, De Leon talked about the consular services offered by the Philippine Consulate which has responsibility over 10 Northeast states, including New York and New Jersey. He said his region is home to about 340,000 Filipinos or 10 percent of the total Filipino immigrant population of 3.4 million, based on the latest U.S Census.

De Leon said the consulate processes about 18,000 passport applications a year, or an average of 60 a day.

red line

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: