The richly funded effort to weaken President Rody Duterte, which was recently behind the moves in the United States (US) Senate to bar Philippine officials who are arbitrarily accused of having a hand in the “unlawful incarceration” of suspected drug trafficker Sen. Leila de Lima, is hard to deny.
In 2017 and 2018, it was the European allies of De Lima who had pestered Rody to have her released, and the bases used were the same employed in the US resolution seeking her release.
A similar resolution was passed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) made up of members of the European Parliament that included an inquiry into her condition through a visit at her detention facility.
The difference then was that the IPU admitted that its move was triggered by a petition of De Lima before the body to take up her case.
The European Parliament, which Rody described as being made up of politicians who crave media mileage unlike the European Commission who are made up of technocrats, had issued demands similar to that of the US Senate resolution, which was that she be released and the dropping of all charges against her.
Similar to the Democrat senators who pushed the resolution, the IPU was obviously ignorant of the series of events that led to the eventual arrest and detention of the senator.
For instance, the IPU stated that “it fails to understand how the accusation against her makes sense, given that she has been the one taking actions against the alleged drug trafficking at the NBP (New Bilibid Prison).”
The IPU swallowed hook, line and sinker De Lima’s claim that those who attested to her having received drug money for her senatorial campaign had been pressured or offered rewards to offer “false testimony” against her.
De Lima also claimed it was her “who took action” on the drug trade inside the NBP, claiming that a “surprise raid” she led on 15 December 2014 revealed the VIP treatment of high-profile inmates and drug lords.
She added that the Department of Justice (DoJ) under her watch conducted over 30 inspections as part of Oplan “Galugad.”
The truth, however, was that the raid was selective and had the primary intent of shielding inmates that she favored.
The parliamentarians also did not have the logic to ask why was there a drugs market inside the supposed maximum security prison and why it thrived when De Lima was the DoJ secretary.
There was also a misappreciation of the charges against De Lima, which she claimed came from the high-profile inmates of the NBP, but the cases acted on by the DoJ resulting in the filing of charges of drug trafficking against her were based on complaints filed by the crime watchdog Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and former National Bureau of Investigation directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala. NBP inmate Jaybee Sebastian and his wife were only among the complainants.
The European Parliament in 2018 also passed a resolution demanding the release of De Lima and an immediate end to its campaign against illegal drugs after the government barred Italian Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary general of the Party of European Socialists, from entering the country.
Filibeck was then supposed to attend an international congress of yellow group Akbayan.
The EU Parliament also sought the removal of United Nations Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz from a government list of individuals with links to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People’s Army.
Now the oust-Duterte baton was passed on to the American Democrat senators who are desperately in need of a controversial issue to buoy their hopes for the November polls.