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De Lima and her anti-Duterte U.S. lobby

“In short, the detention of Senator De Lima is in accord with applicable Philippine laws, and that the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of her detention.

Victor Avecilla

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It’s very obvious. There is a lobby operating in the United States determined to undermine the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Recent political events reported in the news are indications of the lobby’s existence.

The focus of the lobby is Sen. Leila de Lima, a sworn enemy of President Duterte. So far, the lobby has succeeded in getting prominent politicians in the US to embarrass the President by portraying his government as a ruthless and lawless dictatorship, as demonstrated by the detention of De Lima at Camp Crame.

That is, however, getting ahead of the story.

Senator De Lima was the Justice secretary of then President Benigno Aquino III. She managed to win in the May 2016 senatorial elections, having made it to 12th place among 12 winners.
Her headache began when the local media revealed that drug lords detained at the national penitentiary were enjoying special treatment ever since De Lima was Justice secretary. As the Justice chief, she exercised extensive authority over the national penitentiary.

It was reported that the drug lords paid De Lima large sums of money in exchange for air-conditioned quarters, catered food, and access to cash, mobile phones, computers and the Internet, narcotics and drug paraphernalia, gambling equipment and firearms.

The media also reported that De Lima’s driver was her lover and her bagman, and that she supposedly gifted him with a large house and lot in Pangasinan.

Eventually, the DoJ filed narcotics-related charges against De Lima, leading to her arrest and her detention at Camp Crame. The Supreme Court upheld the validity of her arrest, as well as her detention pending the outcome of the criminal case against her.

So far, De Lima’s trial is ongoing. She is being defended by a lawyer of her choice. Her trial is diligently covered by the media.

Her cell at Camp Crame conforms to specifications set forth under international humanitarian law. She is not subjected to any physical maltreatment by her jailers. Last August, she was allowed a furlough to visit her ailing mother. Even while under detention, De Lima is allowed to file bills in the Senate.

In short, the detention of Senator De Lima is in accord with applicable Philippine laws, and that the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of her detention. As a lawyer, she ought to know that.

Meanwhile, President Duterte enjoys a very high public approval rating of more than 80 percent, which means that many Filipinos are satisfied with the way he is running the government, which includes his war against illegal drugs.

All that notwithstanding, a number of American senators are asking the US government to ban De Lima’s jailers from entering US territory, on the premise that her detention is illegal and inhumane. They also accused the Duterte administration of countenancing extrajudicial killings in its war against drugs.

The US senators behind the proposal want their own version of criminal justice to prevail in the Philippines. That’s an affront to Philippine sovereignty.

Likewise, the reason invoked for the entry ban is false. How can De Lima’s detention be illegal when its compliance with the Constitution and the law has been confirmed by the Supreme Court? How can her detention at Camp Crame be inhumane when she is not maltreated and her cell conforms to human rights standards?

As for the alleged extrajudicial killings, suffice it to say that an all-out war against drug lords is not a walk in the park. A war against powerful drug lords will inevitably produce marginal casualties. Even the US war against drug cartels in South America has its share of marginal casualties.

The senators also conveniently ignored the very high public approval rating President Duterte currently enjoys.

Because the accusations made by the senators are patently groundless, it is obvious that a powerful anti-Duterte lobby is operating in the US today, and it is financed by wealthy Filipinos.

In the interest of truth, that anti-Duterte lobby should be neutralized by a lobby that tells the real score here in the Philippines. That way, the political opposition will be denied another forum for their lies against the Duterte administration.

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