Just as the American government has started to feel anxious over the notice President Rodrigo Duterte sent to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the vicious noises coming from pseudo rights groups have been turned up anew.
It is not only one group but a horde that is now putting pressure on Rody along the lines of the Senate resolution that initiated the ban on Philippine officials for their role in the “unlawful incarceration” of suspected drug trafficker Sen. Leila de Lima.
Groups led by Amnesty International, Forum-Asia and Human Rights Watch came out with a demand yesterday for the unconditional and immediate release of De Lima while adding that Rappler founder Maria Ressa and Vice President Leni Robredo are targets of harassment.
“The mistreatment of De Lima reflects broader attacks by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte against human rights defenders, particularly women,” according to the new propaganda offensive.
De Lima has been detained at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police since her arrest on 24 February 2017 or for about three years now.
“Since her detention, the authorities have made no substantial progress in court proceedings for the three drug-related cases eventually brought against her. These cases have been marked by undue delays after at least six judges decided to recuse themselves from hearing the cases or opted for early retirement,” claimed the noisemakers.
An outlandish claim of the group is that De Lima has been prevented from participating in hearings and proceedings at the Philippine Senate and faces restrictions on communications with outsiders.
The reality is that the Senator has full access to media which receives a barrage of her press releases that are mostly sharp criticisms of the President without any restrictions.
Still her backers said she is being mistreated and that her ordeal “reflects the broader repressive conditions that human rights defenders face in the country.”
Ressa’s Rappler, the group noted, has been publishing investigative reports about the war on drugs and for which she is facing numerous lawsuits.
The cases that Ressa face, however, were totally unrelated to the exercise of press freedom since these are about the violation of the Constitution regarding ownership limits while another case involves cyberlibel which is not unusual for any publication.
Another alleged victim of Rody’s “repressive regime” is Robredo who the group said is subjected to a “smear campaign.”
The real score is that Robredo was given the chance to introduce changes in the anti-narcotics campaign but she miserably fumbled the opportunity by running straight to her foreign benefactors in mapping out her program as anti-drugs czarina.
The group also mentioned left-wing members of communist party fronts as being “threatened and harassed for their human rights work.”
Prominently cited by the detractors was US Senate Resolution 142, which calls for sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans against government officials responsible for De Lima’s arrest and detention, “as well as for the extrajudicial executions of alleged drug offenders.”
The move is now for other Western nations to impose similar sanctions which was already initiated by international rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who is also counsel of Ressa.
The UN Human Rights Council which is holding a session in June is a prime target of the group to scale up their demonization of Rody.
With two years left to swing an easy route for Robredo through a power grab, knowing that the election route would be futile for the yellow candidate, the ouster effort is now in full throttle.