It’s beginning to emerge that there was a rivalry between gang leaders Herbert Colangco and Jaybee Sebastian within the New Bilibid Prison. It seems, in the midst of all that, Sebastian emerged as the one favoured for coddling by the Philippine Government during the administration of former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III. Senator Leila De Lima, who was Aquino’s Justice Secretary at the time, herself admitted that Sebastian was an “asset” in that he supposedly “kept things in order” at the prison.
But Colangco alleges that Sebastian also helped raise money for the Liberal Party campaign for the 2016 elections. And so what keeps pundits, activists, and observers busy nowadays is exchanging speculation surrounding this Colangco-said-Sebastian-said circus. The bigger point, however, is this: Guilty or not of accusations made by inmate Herbert Colangco, the fact remains, Bilibid Prisons had practically become a drug lord’s resort under the watch of the Aquino administration.
Whatever the case, De Lima was responsible for ensuring that Bilibid Prisons be maintained as a penal facility and not a hub for the drug trade it had evidently become.
The problem with De Lima is that, following her ouster as Senate Justice Committee chairman, she now plays the victim card like a loser. Rather than suffer the consequences of her approach with a level head, she spends her days at the Senate now updating the seemingly sympathetic Philippine news media industry on her “persecution”. Interestingly, De Lima’s behaviour in recent days presents a stark contrast to the quiet dignity exhibited by former President Gloria Arroyo when she herself was in a similar situation in 2011. Her dignified stance eventually earned her the respect of even people who used to hate her.
De Lima also played a significant role in the demonisation of the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial in 2012. The story back then almost reads like today’s news…
It was very uncomfortable to watch a woman of De Lima’s calibre reduced to defending her indefensible actions. The simple question asked by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on whether or not the Chief Justice acted alone in trying to enforce the TRO — to which De Lima replied, “The direct answer to that is no” — already reveals her untenable position. The fact that other justices are free to vote “yea” or “nay” is a testament to the freedom accorded them by the Supreme Court as an institution. And for De Lima to insinuate that the other justice’s decision can be easily swayed is an insult to the justices themselves as individuals and to the institution itself.
De Lima also alleges that Chief Justice Renato Corona wanted to let GMA “leave the country in November despite her facing charges of electoral sabotage.” Her statement was inconsistent with how things truly transpired. We recall that GMA and former first Gentleman Jose Miquel Arroyo’s first attempt to leave was on the 15th of November 2011 and at that time, there were no charges filed against her. It was on this basis that the Supreme Court issued the TRO citing that their decision was “consistent with the constitutional provision on the presumption of innocence” because the Arroyos are not yet accused.
Instead of yakking away in front of the cameras, De Lima should learn from the late Corona and GMA what it means to be a true representative of the Filipino people. Left on her own, she has come to stand for everything that is wrong with the archetypical Filipino character.
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