A challenge on the Malampaya multibillion peso transactions coming from Filipino-American mogul Loida Nicolas Lewis was a surprise, but it reeks of business interests, really.
Lewis and some local tycoons with interests in the vast resources in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) often consult with each other on the prospects in the area which the widow of billionaire-philanthropist Reginald Lewis sees as a huge opportunity.
Main complainants Lewis and lawyer Rodel Rodis are founders of the now anti-Duterte National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA)
Lewis as NaFFAA chair, supported presidential candidates in both the US and Philippines such as Barack Obama in 2008, Noynoy Aquino in 2010, and the also-rans Hillary Clinton and Mar Roxas in 2016.
Lewis is an ardent backer of Vice President Leni Robredo, who on several occasions she had met.
On 20 July 2016, Lewis led a delegation comprised of business leaders, miners, and diplomats, including Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia, in Davao to meet with Mr. Duterte and came out of the assembly all praises of the then-new President, believing that her WPS views will be adopted as policy.
Her frustration showed after Mr. Duterte adopted an independent foreign policy that balanced the relations with non-traditional partners such as Russia and China, with that of the United States.
Frustration turned into a personal crusade to oust Mr. Duterte after the Philippines’ relations with China improved and the WPS exploration headed towards a joint undertaking between the governments of both nations.
Lewis was hoping that a foreign policy adversarial to China, which was the norm during the previous regime, would be pursued by Mr. Duterte.
The President also appointed ecology activist Gina Lopez as Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary whose agenda went against the mining interests allied with Lewis.
The crackdown against miners became another cue for the massive oust-Duterte campaign that had its culmination in the filing of the so-called crimes against humanity charges in the International Criminal Court.
Days after Robredo was dismissed as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, Lewis called for President Duterte to resign, citing extrajudicial killings (EJK) that happened in the implementation of the war on drugs.
EJK in the anti-narcotics campaign was debunked as a myth in investigations conducted by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Charges were filed against police officers who were found to have overstepped their bounds during anti-drug operations.
In the Congress investigations, however, it was established that Senator Leila de Lima, the Justice secretary of former President Aquino, dabbled in the infamous New Bilibid Prison drug cartel.
The so-called state-sponsored killings stemming from the allegations of putschist Antonio Trillanes IV’s pawns Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas were found bogus during the probes.
Instead of the allegations being extinguished, these were repackaged with the manufactured claims of 20,000 EJK of Trillanes and brought before the ICC.
The entire episode involving Lewis revealed that she and her ilk in the Liberal Party have a lot of vested interests to return to power through whatever means, and the WPS is their much-sought crown jewel.