The De Lima dilemma: how will the three branches of gov’t resolve the case? | Inquirer Opinion

The De Lima dilemma: how will the three branches of gov’t resolve the case?

/ 04:05 AM December 13, 2022

How do you solve a problem like Leila de Lima?

It has been almost six years that former senator has been in jail, too long for a preventive detention for cases that are still undergoing trial. What made her situation worse was the fact that her detention happened during the whole duration of her incumbency as senator which prevented her from actively participating in legislative deliberations.

Human rights activists plea to free De Lima, and for good reasons. But the three branches of government are obviously in a quandary, even in a dilemma, on what to do with De Lima and her cases.


The executive department, particularly Malacañang, would not and should not intervene in her cases as doing so will just confirm her claim that the cases against her are purely political persecution, and therefore can be dismissed by a purely political decision. The Department of Justice is mandated to perform its task to vigorously prosecute the cases to the end which it had already started.


The legislative department has its hands tied and can only inquire on the status of her cases, as did Sen. Sonny Angara, the matter being judicial in nature.

The judiciary department, on the other hand, through the courts hearing the cases, have to carefully balance the testimonies of the witnesses who recanted versus those who did not.

The courts and the prosecution have to literally untangle the procedural legal web which De Lima herself, as former secretary of justice, also created.

Let it be recalled that it was then Secretary De Lima who defied the temporary restraining order of the Supreme Court when she prevented former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from leaving the country sometime in November 2011 simply on the ground that the order was not yet final and still subject to motion for reconsideration. A warrant of arrest was subsequently issued few days after a case was filed against Arroyo, which De Lima claimed to be nothing unusual.

What De Lima considered as nothing unusual also happened to her when she was arrested and subsequently imprisoned in February 2017 when a warrant of arrest was also issued by a Regional Trial Court judge only few days after the case was filed. Then First Gentleman Mike Arroyo called it “a dose of her own medicine.”

While it is true that no one should be an arbiter of other people’s morals, as De Lima herself decried, those in the legal circle saw, not the moral angle but the legal issue of a legislator and secretary of justice having an illicit affair with a married man, and therefore criminally adulterous. Her own admission of the affair which she claimed was a result of the “frailties of a woman” indelibly marked her with the scarlet letter.


Will history be kind to her and attribute heroism for the agony she suffered while in jail? Or will the young generation who are exposed to social media simply remember the much publicized alleged drug connection, and the illicit affair between a senator and a driver? Will she be remembered as a modern day heroine or simply a political virago who meddled and barked at every public issue in the noisy political marketplace?

Victor T. Reyes,

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

[email protected]

TAGS: De Lima

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.