Senator Leila De Lima has been “warning” the public these past days of her impending arrest following the drug-related charges. In her statement to the press, Senator De Lima apparently disparaged the charges pressed on her by looking at it as politically maneuvered due to her being a staunch critic of Duterte administration, especially on the issue of extrajudicial killing or EJK. What is so special with De Lima’s perspective on her plight as senator of the Republic of the #Philippines not only demoralizes the moral health of the Senate but also disintegrates at its worst the divisive Philippine politics, in general.
Moreover, this trying time of Senator De Lima in the Philippine politics discloses the perverseness, the fractiousness of political campaigns, especially the “call” of the Human Rights Watch to drop charges against the senator.
What happened to you Sir Phelim Kine, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia Division? May I know what you really meant about that call and what made you decide to look at the allegation as “political vindictiveness”? Your sweeping remark, rather, debases the organization you are representing, I guess.
Human Rights Watch posted an article titled, Philippines: Drop Political Charges against Duterte Critic. The article is bleeding profusely of what I could barely say a total destruction of credibility Human Rights Watch has been maintaining for over the years. As a Filipino citizen with high regards on human rights, I was taken aback in sheer disappointment with this global human rights advocate’s article. My disappointment runs throughout my nerves without ceasing, whispering questions on air and reevaluating the history of ages before Senator De Lima came at this point in her unfortunate time in Philippine politics.
Leila De Lima Prosecution Is Politically Motivated. Really?
As the Philippine Human Rights Commission chairman then, Senator De Lima had been the vocal critic of Duterte when he was the Davao mayor. Now that Duterte became president, De Lima continued her “advocacy” on running after extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by President Duterte during his alleged involvement with DDS or Davao Death Squad that allegedly “butchering” people, innocents and considered enemies alike, with impunity.
Then, came the issues of politicians and men in power with their involvement of prohibited drugs. President Duterte, fulfilling his war on drugs campaign, started his homework to address narco-politics in the country bold and daring.
Months after President Duterte’s declaration of war on drugs, the Philippine Congress started a house inquiry in aid of legislation the involvement of the sitting Senator Leila De Lima with the Bilibid drug trafficking and her alleged role as drug lords protector. An overwhelming witnesses’ statements testifying and identifying Senator De Lima as drug lords protector when she was the DOJ secretary during Noynoy Aquino administration was heard over a media coverage. On the other side of the House, the Philippine Senate conducted an inquiry into extrajudicial killing where Senator De Lima was the chairman of the committee until her expulsion from chairmanship was moved by Senator Pacquiao and overwhelmingly approved by the Senate. In this case, her expulsion is just fitting so the inquiry shall be accorded with partiality and delicadeza on her part as “rabid fan” of President Duterte.
Now, after months of “building the case” according to President Duterte, Senator De Lima is nearing to face the music. She will be arrested anytime soon, as of writing this news commentary.
The drug charges against Senator De Lima is founded on witnesses’ testimonies and other complaints filed against her with the same drug charges so apparently overwhelming to find a probable cause. Despite De Lima’s long battle against the extrajudicial killings that allegedly involved President Duterte, the drug charges pressed on De Lima is clearly a legal issue of demeanor and commission of crime so fitting to be pursued by the government against its people that with high probability as assessed will likely shatter the government campaigns should be left and treated cold.
Senator De Lima, of course, isn’t a political prisoner when arrested. Nor her prosecution is politically motivated basing upon the apparent overwhelming testimonies of the witnesses. The drug charges that Senator De Lima is facing aren’t considered and cannot be categorized as crimes committed by her out of her political actions opposing and vehemently criticizing the government so she should be arrested for that political activism. Just because De Lima is a vocal critic of Duterte that would give her the license to be labeled as such when arrested, along with those legitimate political prisoners. Claiming De Lima as a political prisoner is an outright insult to the Filipinos who still believe in the government’s aspirations and ideals to protect the people from the abusive power that be.
While others may choose to think that Senator De Lima’s display of “fanaticism” to Duterte is only but a devised plan of her political actions as a way out or alibi for her alleged drug involvement as a protector during her stint as DOJ secretary, I prefer to look at it as an option. Let the court and the Philippine criminal justice system decide the fate of Senator De Lima whether or not she is a protector of drug lords. Human Rights Watch should have been exercising restraint. Whether or not this global human rights organization through its deputy director in Asia is just exercising its right to freedom of opinion, still its opinion about De Lima prosecution is contaminated of a perverse call unbecoming to an organization known for its accurate fact-finding and impartial reporting.
Senator Leila De Lima, until proven guilty of the charges, remains innocent of the accusations even if the warrant of arrest is served. It is in this beauty of her career in Philippine politics that her political gemstones will be tried to be polished for them to shine even more nobody knows▲
Image: Human Rights Watch official logo (Credit: by Mononomic (wikipedia: User:Mononomic) (Image: Hrw_logo.gif) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)