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At Large

Amal Clooney and Isko

Doubtless her celebrity status, not least the fact that she is married to Hollywood A-lister George Clooney, is what makes Amal Clooney’s latest legal move so sensational.

Described as an international human rights advocate, Clooney announced that she, along with other lawyers, would be taking on Maria Ressa as a client.

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“Maria Ressa is a courageous journalist who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses,” Clooney said in a statement.

“We will pursue all available legal remedies to vindicate her rights and defend press freedom and the rule of law in the Philippines,” added the British-Lebanese lawyer. She will be working with a team of international lawyers as counsel to Ressa and coordinate with Ressa’s Philippine team.

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If Amal Clooney seems familiar to Filipinos, it must be because she also lawyered for former President (and later, Speaker) Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before the United Nations, alleging the former president’s detention was “politically motivated.” GMA’s lawyer Larry Gadon said it was columnist Carmen Pedrosa, a family friend of both the Arroyos and of Clooney’s mother Baria Alamuddin who is an internationally known journalist, who brought Amal to see GMA in 2013. This was about a year before Amal married Clooney, and before the 2016 elections.

So maybe that’s why Dutertards and Dilawans can’t quite wrap their heads around the idea of Amal Clooney now defending Ressa against the Philippine government. Ressa was named last year as one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” (among a slew of other awards), while the news site Rappler which she heads is the subject of a string of cases from libel to tax evasion.

A listing of Clooney’s and her firm’s clients is decidedly a mixed bag. It ranges from the Armenian people who are demanding an apology for the genocide carried out by Turkey early in the last century, to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, to such big business names as Enron, and even to Moammar Gadhafi’s former intelligence chief before the International Criminal Court.

Which just goes to show that while it is a lawyer’s duty to provide every and any client a proper defense, a lawyer should take care that the choice of such a client does not, in the future, bite back.

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Of the crop of “new” faces who’ve taken leadership, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno seems to have, to use a cliché, hit the ground running.

Facebook and other social media sites have run photos of a nearly unrecognizable Divisoria, Blumentritt and other downtown areas now cleared of trash, vehicles and other obstructions. By doing so, Moreno has shown not only that it could be done, but that ordinary folk had long been dreaming of a leader with such political will. Of course, as the Manila mayor himself has stated, the public should keep a close eye on these newly cleaned-up areas, adding that once these revert to their old states “then that means I have been paid off.”

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Such refreshing candor from a politician!

Now Isko takes on other politicians, including their families, by having the names of current and former officials removed from public buildings, especially public schools. “Bawal ang epal (Publicity-conscious pols are banned),” he said.

Moreno is no newbie to public service. He has served as vice mayor of Manila for three terms, and even had a stint at the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Which may explain why he seemed to have such a specific, targeted “to-do” list in his early days as mayor. As one Facebook commentator put it, it matters little that Mayor Isko may be pursuing his agenda for “publicity purposes.” Show me the politician, after all, who does things with no other purpose than public service.

But in the process, he has pleased his constituents no end, even those who live outside Manila. Others have asked if Moreno even considered the plight of his victims, such as sidewalk vendors and hawkers. In the first place, what these folk had been doing was illegal. Second, the public welfare should not be sacrificed for charity, and it is the truly caring and creative local executive who finds ways to pursue both without hurting the genuinely innocent.

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TAGS: Amal Clooney, At Large, David, Isko Moreno, Maria Ressa, Rappler, rina jimenez david
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