The ongoing war of words between Senator Leila De Lima and her political enemies headed by President Rodrigo Duterte has some feminist groups in the Philippines up in arms, labelling criticism against De Lima as misogynist and a form of sexual harassment. They are using the gender card in defending De Lima. As a female, I find this unfair not just to the opposite sex, but to the real victims of sexual harassment.
While it is sad that De Lima’s detractors are using an alleged sex video featuring her and her former driver/lover to attack her — threatening to play it during a Congressional hearing into the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons — they are doing so only because she is still avoiding the issue. What De Lima should have done once her extra-marital affair was exposed for the first time was to own up to it.
The problem is, De Lima kept being coy about the said affair and deliberately avoided the issue. Her behaviour is quite odd considering rumours of the nature of her relationship with the ex-Department of Justice driver Ronnie Dayan have been going around after former Jueteng whistle-blower Sandra Cam divulged it to the media years ago. De Lima should be man enough or, should I say, woman enough to admit it. Why should she be ashamed of the affair now? After all, isn’t feminism about equal opportunity for women? A lot of men are not ashamed of admitting to an affair. They even brag about it like it is a badge of honour.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for equal opportunity, but there are times when the gender card is used too often and comes across like it’s a way to get a free pass and De Lima’s situation is one of them. This is precisely the reason why feminism causes don’t get any respect from some members of the opposite sex. If we women want to be treated with respect, we need to play our cards right. If De Lima does not want the alleged sex video played in the Congressional hearing, she should just admit to the affair and the existence of the sex video. That way, Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez – both allied with Duterte – who want the video to be shown because it is relevant to the House Committee on Justice’s inquiry on the proliferation of drugs inside the national penitentiary, don’t have to play it.
For the record, I am against showing De Lima’s alleged sex video. I don’t think it is necessary. Besides, minors could see it. But I do get what they are trying to prove. Their aim is to establish a link — a very close link — between driver Dayan who is being accused of drug trafficking while employed by the DOJ under De Lima. It’s a shame they have to resort to this tactic just to prove it.
De Lima can help stop this madness by telling the truth. She might be thinking that her personal life is not anyone else’s business, but the fact is, her lover was a former staff who is accused of being involved in illegal activity. De Lima should have been subject to disciplinary action or removed from office for that. It’s a shame she got away with impunity for years during former BS Aquino’s term. Had she been sacked as DOJ secretary, that would have taught her some humility and she wouldn’t have had the nerve to run for senator in the last election. Now Filipinos are stuck with her and the tililing rampages she frequently launches herself into in front of the media.
De Lima seems to be good at keeping up a front. She is deluding herself into thinking that she has done nothing wrong. In other societies, politicians who become embroiled in controversy or fail in their duties resign immediately out of shame. De Lima should emulate that. She doesn’t seem to feel any sense of shame. Some people are saying that she could be a sociopath. Sociopaths are said to be those who lack any true sense of guilt or remorse for harm they may have caused to others. Instead, they blame their behaviour on someone else, or deny it outright. They lack moral bearing (in comparison with the majority of humans) and are unable to evaluate situations within a moral framework. They also have an inability to develop emotional bonds with other people. De Lima does not seem to have an ability to reflect inward. She should be asking herself “why is this happening to me?” She should look back on the people she had done wrong to and there is a long list starting with former President Gloria Arroyo.
You can call it bullying, but you cannot call what De Lima’s enemies are doing “sexual harassment”. She was also bullying others when she was DOJ Secretary and she’s still doing it to Duterte. Besides, her victims did not complain of “sexual harassment” when she was doing it. We didn’t hear Arroyo, Corona, Binay, Enrile, Jinggoy, Revilla, et al cry sexual harassment when they were being persecuted by the Liberal Party during BS Aquino’s term.
In her recent press conference, De Lima was acting hysterical. She lacked class. She does not handle stress with finesse. One wonders what kind of training she had as a lawyer. She buckles under pressure. She’s the type of woman members of the opposite sex would love to hate because she talks too much. She does not represent women well. I am surprised that women’s groups see her as a champion of their cause.
De Lima also complained about not being able to do her job as a senator because of the constant attack on her. If she stopped holding press conferences every day, she might have time to do her job. She’s saying the same things over and over anyway. She doesn’t see that she is also badmouthing Duterte during her talks with the media and angering his supporters in the process. If she thinks the truth will prevail, then she has nothing to worry about. She shouldn’t lose sleep over it. She just has to deal with the thought of being in detention for a while once the charges against her have been formally filed. If Arroyo handled being detained while sick, she can handle it too considering she claims to be a strong woman.
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