Is De Lima’s case an act of political harassment?
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

The criminal case filed against Senator Leila de Lima has been the subject of a heated public debate pitting spokespersons of President Duterte against allies of the embattled senator.

While critics of the Duterte administration claim that the arrest is an attempt to silence De Lima who had accused the President of involvement in the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in Davao City, Malacanang spokesmen say there is probable cause to charge the senator for her involvement in the illegal drug trade at the National Bilibid Prisons.

The arguments and counter-arguments are causing confusion among ordinary people such as farmers and fishermen whose knowledge of the law is nil. These people are asking, “Did De Lima really receive bribes from the drug dealers at  Bilibid?” In their simple mind, this is a crucial question that needs to be answered.   

Because the case against De Lima has now become a political football, people can no longer expect their elected leaders to give objective views on the matter.   

These leaders include Vice President Leni Robredo who said the arrest of De Lima is political harassment. De Lima herself said her arrest was purely an act of revenge for her decade-long efforts to expose Duterte as leader of death squads when he was mayor of Davao City.

Former President Noynoy Aquino denounced the government’s treatment of De Lima, who was his justice secretary.

On Robredo’s statement that the arrest of De Lima is political harassment, President Spokesman Ernesto Abella said, “Dapat linawin natin na unang-una, ‘yung pagkakaaresto (We should make it clear first of all why she was arrested). It was based on probable cause. ‘Yung kanya pong kaso ay kriminal. Hindi po ito pulitikal na bagay (her case is criminal, not political.”

“Dapat po siguro maging objective rin ‘yung pagtingin nung mga tao na katulad ni VP Leni na may basehan po itong mga galaw na ‘to (Maybe people like VP Leni should be objective in their view that this move has a basis),” he said.

Abella rejected claims that the senator is being treated unfairly by the government. He said, “Everything was done objectively and with fair play.”

Hopefully, the issues will be fully resolved by the court. But because the wheel of justice grinds slowly in the Philippines, it will take a long time before a judgment is promulgated.

Meanwhile, all sorts of speculations about the case are flying fast and thick. Amidst these conjectures, laymen are asking: Is De Lima capable of committing the offense charged against her? Was she too immoral to receive bribes from drug lords?

From our standpoint, we see that De Lima could not pass the morality test. Her admission of her illicit relationship with her former driver is smoking-gun proof of her loose morals.


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