Plaintive cries of political persecution are again being heard from the detention cell of Sen. Leila de Lima reserved for the ears of some intrusive European legislators under the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) who were in the country recently.
The loudest of the repeated claims she made to win IPU’s attention was her supposed plight as a political prisoner of President Rody Duterte.
The IPU was also in the country to check on the case of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, De Lima’s tag team partner against Rody in the Senate.
The IPU should review the facts that completely belies De Lima’s claims of persecution.
In February 2017, the Department of Justice (DoJ) panel of prosecutors issued a resolution charging De Lima with three counts of drug trafficking charges before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in connection with her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
De Lima was charged for violating of Section 5 (sale and trading of illegal drugs) in relation to Section 3 (jj), Section 26 (b) and Section 28 (criminal liability of government officials and employees) of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The resolution was based on the consolidated criminal complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala and high-profile Bilibid inmate and self-confessed drug trader Jaybee Sebastian.
The three separate cases accused her of receiving millions of pesos from illegal drug trade at the NBP.
The first count included De Lima’s former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan and National Bureau of Investigation deputy director Rafael Ragos as her co-accused. De Lima is joined by her nephew Jose Adrian Dera in the second count while the third case included former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, his alleged bagman Wilfredo Elli, high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian and De Lima’s former bodyguard Jonel Sanchez. Dayan and Dera were also among those accused.
Muntinlupa RTC Judge Juanita Guerrero issued the arrest warrant on 23 February which ordered De Lima’s detention at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center based on the commitment order it has issued. Dayan, meanwhile, was detained at the Muntinlupa City Jail.
The cases were all criminal in nature and involved illegal drugs. Nowhere near any instance of politically-motivated attack on the senator.
The Supreme Court (SC) last 6 June junked the appeal of De Lima to dismiss the drug trafficking case against her and affirmed the validity of her arrest based on charges filed by the DoJ.
The vote was a convincing 9-5 favoring the detention of the senator.
During the term of De Lima as justice secretary, some 70 to 75 percent of illegal drugs in the country are cooked at the NBP.
Through yellow gimmicks, De Lima is being turned into a martyr and even received a “Prize for Freedom” from the Liberal International which has obvious links with her Liberal Party (LP).
Last 28 July, the group asked “the government of Rodrigo Duterte to release Senator De Lima and drop the fictitious allegations made against her.”
Groups actively calling for her release include New York-based Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International which have issued demands on several occasions that all charges be dropped immediately to pave the way for her release.
Also recently the yellow league in the Senate — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Trillanes, Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros — issued a petition for her to be granted temporary liberty to argue the plea against Rody’s order to withdraw the government from the Rome Statute that created the ICC that the SC turned down.
Another undeniable fact was that De Lima was the chief implementor of selective justice under President Noynoy Aquino in which persecution of opponents are done lightning speed while yellow allies are shielded from accountability.
It is a source of wonder how those supporting the suspected drug trafficker can miss the true circumstances that led to her detention.