Members of the Philippine Opposition especially those from the Liberal Party are still clinging to whatever glimmer of hope they see of a chance of bringing the current government down. Some of them have expressed support for the proposed bill by two US lawmakers to ban from entering the US Philippine government officials who are involved in what they say is “politically-motivated” detention of Senator Leila De Lima. Never mind that De Lima’s cases are being processed in Philippine courts, not US courts and her cases and detention do not affect Americans directly or indirectly. Simply put, it is quite baffling why any US lawmaker would try to meddle in a matter outside of their jurisdiction. But even more baffling is why any Filipino, especially lawmakers like Senator Kiko Pangilinan and the current Vice President Leni Robredo, would think this is okay.
Good to see the Senate Appropriations Committee pass my amendment with @SenatorLeahy today to prohibit entry to any Philippine Government Officials involved in the politically motivated imprisonment of Filipina Senator Leila de Lima in 2017. We must #FreeLeilaNow.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) September 26, 2019
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Those who think this is okay better be careful about their statements showing support for the US lawmakers meddling in Philippine affairs. They are essentially giving up the country’s sovereignty. They should also think about scenarios where they have to jail their own rivals who they accuse of violating the law. Would they support the same meddling? The problem with the Opposition is they are hypocrites who lack foresight. They think the end justifies the means. As long as they get their way – free De Lima and embarrass President Rodrigo Duterte – it’s all good. They are scraping the bottom of the barrel though. The latest survey shows that public support for the President is still at 80 percent. That’s too high for them to consider mobilising their weapon – another people power revolt to oust Duterte.
It seems the members of the Opposition have this belief that if there are foreigners against Duterte, then they must be right. This is proof that some Filipinos still harbour a strong colonial mentality. This is also proof that they are inconsistent.
Some Duterte critics even compare this move by these US lawmakers to the banning of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario from entering Hong Kong. That is ridiculous because those two openly criticised China particularly Chinese President Xi Jinping. Of course Chinese officials had enough reason to ban them from entering any Chinese territory. What’s the difference between the banning of Morales and Del Rosario from entering Hong Kong and the proposed banning of Philippine officials involved in De Lima’s case from entering the US? The way I see it, Morales and Del Rosario are seen as a threat to China while Philippine officials are only a threat to the Philippine Liberal Party. The only way the latter is justified is if the US lawmakers have struck a deal with the Liberal Party.
These US senators have essentially concluded that De Lima is not guilty before the Philippine courts even started the trial. This is an insult to the men and women of the Philippines’ justice system who are simply doing their jobs. When a case is filed against an individual, they have to process it. The US senator claims to know more about the case than Filipinos. That’s really unfortunate because it proves some US lawmakers think very lowly of Filipinos – think the people are inferior and can’t fix their own problems. I’m glad majority of Americans do not think the same way. Most US lawmakers, after all, are rational people who are not inclined to meddle into other countries’ internal affairs and jeopardize foreign relations. I’m pretty sure the rest of the American public do not even know or have never heard of De Lima. There are even Filipinos who are not familiar with the cases she is charged with so it would be a surprise if Americans do. They should stop meddling in Philippine affairs.
The truth is, De Lima should have been charged and prosecuted a long time ago for violating the law and defying the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order issued in favor of former President Gloria Arroyo. Arroyo was about to leave the country to seek medical consultation abroad but De Lima ordered her arrest and detention even when there was no pending case against her at that time. When they finally filed cases against her, they were all based on trumped-up charges. This was proven when one by one, the cases got dismissed due to lack of evidence and credible witnesses. De Lima should have been disbarred for her violations then. But of course the old patronage politics was at work when the Aquino government was still in power and she went on to finish her term and managed to win a seat in the senate.
Part of the reason why De Lima is regarded by some people in the international community as a “victim” is because the alleged crimes she committed during her time as a cabinet member of the Aquino government only surfaced during Duterte’s term. They now assume the cases are “trumped-up” and ‘politically-motivated”. But Duterte has so many critics. Only those who allegedly violated the law are getting in trouble. It’s a hard lesson for people like De Lima. If you’re going to criticise the most powerful person in the country, you better make sure he’s got nothing on you.
In life, things are not always what they seem.