Of course anyone who’s been charged and arrested would deny and deny the accusations. Senator Leila de Lima is no exception. And there is no shortage of “groups” backing her denials of wrongdoing. True to form, the Inquirer gives such voices prime space such as one “coalition” known as “One for Leila”…
“We reject and condemn in the strongest terms the threat of imminent arrest of Senator Leila de Lima in what is another attempt to silence the fiercest critic of the Duterte administration,” the group said in a one-page manifesto distributed to media in Quezon City on Friday.
The kicker in such statements as this is in the pompous way its members presume to make pronouncements that only a proper Philippine court of law can make. In the case of “One for Leila”, the claim in their manifesto is that “the accusations against her are baseless.” Perhaps. But, again, this is for a Philippine court to decide as mandated by the Constitution. Due process is a bitch when you are on the wrong side of the equation, ain’t it?
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How big a denial does De Lima need to do to clear her name? A lot.
De Lima is accused, among other things, of collaborating with prison officials to extort money from inmates who were — under de Lima’s watch — allegedly allowed to traffic illegal drugs from within prison. She is also accused of receiving money and gifts from imprisoned drug lord Peter Co. Many observers are also alleging that the money and assets obtained by de Lima from the criminal activities she is accused of engaging in went into funding her campaign for a seat in the Philippine Senate in 2016.
Even more interesting, de Lima is held accountable not just for the overall proliferation of drugs in the Philippines, but also for routine travesities of justice. One high-profile case is in the manner with which she led the persecution of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In late 2011, De Lima as then Justice Secretary slapped a travel ban on Arroyo who, at the time, was seeking permission to travel abroad for medical treatment. The basis of De Lima’s hold order on Arroyo’s travel plans was her claim that Arroyo was in the process of seeking politican asylum in the Dominican Republic — a claim which was later denied by that country’s government. But the real punchline in that Cabinet-level gaffe was in how De Lima’s claim was based on a mobile phone text message from an unknown sender…
JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday admitted that the government has no clear proof that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would seek political asylum in Dominican Republic.
In a chance interview, De Lima said she received the information regarding Mrs. Arroyo’s asylum only thru a forwarded SMS message, and she doesn’t even know the identity of the sender.
“Kung may nakuha akong information about Dominican Republic? Sabi ko oo, nakatanggap ako ng text so I’m verifying it. I don’t even know who’s the source of text kasi finorward lang sa akin,” De Lima said.
[Translation: Did I receive information about the Dominican Republic? I said, yes, I did receive a text message and I’m verifying it. I don’t really know the source of the text because it was just forwarded to me]
De Lima disclosed that once she gets any information during the verification, she would immediately disclose it in public.
…an astounding demonstration of lack of procedural rigour in a department that is supposedly all about law and procedure. In this regard, the way de Lima now thrashes around shrieking about “trumped up charges” while crying bloody “persecution” comes across as quite amusing. As a lawyer and former Justice Seecrtary — and now a legislator, no less — de Lima should exhibit a bit more faith in the system upon which she built her supposed legal and political career. De Lima can assert her innocence to the media all she wants. At the end of the day the courts will provide the only authoritative answer to that claim — not the media, not public opinion, and certainly not the Roman Catholic Church.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.