SC decision on De Lima worsens human rights situation
The decision by the Supreme Courtlast Oct. 10 to uphold the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila de Lima worsens the already deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines. De Lima has been in detention at the police headquarters in Manila for nearly eight months on politically motivated charges.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed three cases against De Lima in February for allegedly receiving bribes from accused drug lords incarcerated at the New Bilibid Prison, for allegedly using the money to finance her campaign for the Senate in 2016, and for allegedly violating the country’s antidrug trafficking law.
The cases relied entirely on spurious testimonies from drug lords inside the penitentiary under the DOJ, which De Lima previously headed. In exchange for charges against them being dropped, these inmates became state’s witnesses and took turns testifying against De Lima during scandalous hearings in the Senate and House of Representatives late last year, alleging that she took money from the drug trade inside the prison.
But President Duterte specifically targeted De Lima in his political vendetta because she initiated investigations into the summary killings in Davao City when she was then Chair of the Commission on Human Rights.
She even presented in the Senate a former member of the so-called Davao Death Squad who testified about killings directly ordered by Mr. Duterte and his police force. As senator, De Lima went on to expose the extrajudicial killings related to the “war on drugs” by Mr. Duterte.
As a result, she was removed as chair of the committee and her persecution and demonization continued up to her arrest in February.
The Supreme Court’s decision this week prolongs De Lima’s persecution and affirms this travesty of justice under Mr. Duterte.
FR. AMADO PICARDAL, convenor, Network Against Killings in the Philippines, networkagainstkillings @gmail.com
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