Senator Leila de Lima’s unrequited bitterness while in detention is easy to understand as years of hard work in upholding the yellow brand of selective justice came to naught with the victory of President Rody Duterte in the 2016 elections.
The plan was already firmed up for an 18-year domination by the yellow regime with the Liberal Party (LP) at its core, and De Lima would be the next political superstar with the position as Justice secretary as her launchpad.
Rody spoiled all of that by convincingly winning the presidency over Mar Roxas, the anointed of then President Noynoy Aquino. Instead of a rising constellation, De Lima overnight became a falling star crashing in the political arena.
Some of the highlights of De Lima being among Noynoy’s priestess of selective justice are:
• She ignored a decision of the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the travel ban against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.
Shortly after the SC decision to dismiss an appeal of the Department of Justice (DoJ), which was then headed by De Lima, to reconsider the TRO on the travel ban against the Arroyos, the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno was immediately distributed to media, likely as a separate piece from the majority resolution that junked the government appeal.
The dissenting vote had points about the failure of Arroyo’s lawyers to satisfy the requirements to perfect the TRO, thus, according to Sereno, who also worked very hard to uphold Noynoy’s brand of selective justice, the TRO was conditional. De Lima used Sereno’s dissent as justification for defying the TRO when it was issued on 15 November 2011. Sereno’s dissenting vote, of course, was a minority view.
• Heralding Noynoy’s effort to “reclaim the Supreme Court for the People” through the ouster of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. De Lima also threatened SC justices of being impeached if they do not toe the Noynoy line on the many cases against Gloria and her appointees and former officials.
• De Lima was also the pointman in the P10 million pork barrel scam probe, which targeted mainly the political opponents of Noynoy.A so-called Inter-Agency Graft Coordinating Council that Noynoy formed to facilitate the investigations into the scam had as members the coven of priestesses De Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Commission on Audit (CoA) chairman Grace Pulido-Tan.
Pulido-Tan’s CoA special report immediately received mention as basis for the investigation. The report was limited to the full three final years of Arroyo, which had been the constant target years of Noynoy in his description of the crooked past as opposed to his “straight” path.
The CoA report was used despite being defective since it was mainly based on documents filtered by then Budget Secretary Butch Abad, who Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged scam mastermind, pointed to as her mentor. Abad was also then concurrently the chief strategist of the LP.
• De Lima created a public spectacle out of the filing of complaints with the Ombudsman backed up by “truckloads” of documents that were not at all evidence, but the complaint affidavits against the several accused.
In the pile of papers, however, what was noticeable was those not named in the scam.
Members of Congress argued they just identified projects or recipients of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the actual disbursement of the funds was the function of Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
If the recipient of the funds was found to be anomalous or non-existent, then it would be the DBM that would have been at fault for releasing money to fictitious entities.
The same argument was used by then Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala for pork barrel that was channeled to agricultural projects but ended up in the bogus non-government organizations controlled by Napoles.
Alcala said he could not monitor all the fund releases for projects, an explanation that Noynoy readily accepted. Noynoy then said Alcala and Abad were directed to tighten rules on the disbursement of pork barrel funds to agricultural projects.
Alcala, through the soothing assurance of Noynoy, had been taken off the hook in the controversy and instead lower ranking officials were being used as scapegoats at the DA.
So did Abad, who disbursed the funds covered by PDAF and was then being asked to tighten the rules for something that he had been undertaking.
Some of the questionable projects that used the PDAF were implemented under Alcala’s watch.
All of that for De Lima’s burning ambition, which crumbled with the order for change introduced by Rody.
De Lima now faces multiple drug charges involving funds raised from syndicates inside the New Bilibid Prison.