De Lima Recalls Gov’t Officials Behind Her Political Persecution

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has recalled some of the officials behind her political persecution amid the administration’s personal attacks against the two United States (US) senators who proposed a visa ban to executives responsible for her imprisonment.

In her Dispatch from Crame No. 612, De Lima said US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy would not stake their names and reputations if they did not vet the circumstances behind her unjust detention and believed in her innocence and causes.

“It will not be presumptuous to assume that these US Senators must have verified the information they receive about my situation with key agencies of the US Government i.e., the US State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the US Drug Enforcement Agency, and even the US Embassy here,” she said.

“We do not need rocket science to conclude that the Duterte-led smear campaign against me which is unprecedented in magnitude was the precursor of the trumped-up drug charges anchored on a grand conspiracy of lies. The so-called legal processes are merely meant to legitimize or lend a color of validity or legitimacy to the fake charges,” she added.

Last Sept. 27, US Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin and fellow Democrat Patrick Leahy filed an amendment to the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, and adopted at the Committee level, to deny the entry in the US of any Philippine government official involved in De Lima’s “wrongful imprisonment.”

The Durbin-Leahy amendment drew knee-jerk reactions from Duterte’s allies, notably his Spokesman Salvador Panelo who called Leahy “ignorant” for supposedly speaking without “an iota of proof” for proposing the “entry ban.”

Panelo has also accused the US Senate panel which approved the visa ban as “blissfully ignorant” as he insisted that the Senator’s case underwent several investigations.

Leahy, for his part, maintained that the US government has a “responsibility to respond” against Philippine officials who abuse the justice system for political retribution as it provides large amounts of aid to the Philippines.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, cited the initial list of personalities whom she recalled have contributed in her illegal arrest and unjust detention, beginning with President Duterte and Panelo himself.

“My persecution started with a daily public media demolition by none other than Duterte, using all his powers as President. This was followed by a vicious social media campaign conducted by DDS Trolls, led by Duterte sycophants Mocha Uson, Sass Rogando Sasot, and RJ Nieto,” she shared.

“Then came the House investigation where criminal convicts were induced to testify against me in exchange for prison privileges and immunity, if not presidential pardon, as led by former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Solicitor General Jose Calida, PAO Chief Persida Acosta, Sandra Cam, Dante Jimenez, Congressmen Rey Umali and Rudy Fariñas,” she added.

After the public circus, De Lima narrated the series of irregular proceedings that took place, including the preliminary investigation, the issuance of the warrant of arrest, the affirmation of the questionable proceedings by the Supreme Court, and the government’s illegal presentation of convicts as witnesses against her in court.

“Duterte himself took a direct hand in controlling the inmates-witnesses when he ordered their transfer from Bilibid to a military facility,” she said.

De Lima said Panelo, who concurrently served as the Presidential Legal Counsel since the start of the Duterte Administration, is also at the top of the list of his political persecutors because he failed to advise the President that violating her human rights and depriving her of her freedom are “abuses offensive to justice and humanity.” (senate.gov.ph)