Press Release
February 23, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 473:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the persecution of critics and opponents of the Duterte regime


Malacañang has acquired the habit of denying that it is behind the persecution of critics and opponents of the Duterte regime. It has denied that the fake charges filed against me were in retaliation for my opposition to Duterte's bloody drug war. It has denied that the unconstitutional ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was Duterte's handiwork. It has denied that the revocation of Sen. Sonny Trillanes's amnesty and the revival of his criminal cases are politically motivated. It has denied that Sister Patricia Fox was deported in order to stop her active involvement in human rights work in the Philippines.

Most recently, Malacañang has denied that it has anything to do with the criminal charges filed against Rappler executive Maria Ressa, the latest being a cyberlibel charge which resulted in the spectacle of her arrest.

In all of these cases, Duterte first publicly attacks his victims in speeches. He serves notice to these persons concerned that they are now his targets. His implied message is that if they do not stop, he will use the full powers of his office to crush them.

Under normal times and a normal President, all of the cases brought against these personalities would have been readily dismissed for sheer lack of legal and factual basis. The quo warranto case against CJ Sereno would have been dismissed outright for being unconstitutional. The coup d' etat and rebellion charges against Sen. Trillanes would not have been revived because of double jeopardy, aside from the sheer absurdity of the revocation of an amnesty due to a missing application form.

Sister Fox would not have been deported because her years of religious work in the country remotely constituted interference in political affairs. Maria Ressa would not have been charged because cyberlibel was not yet a crime when the supposed libelous article was published, a clear case of an unconstitutional ex-post facto law. I would not have been arrested and detained without bail on the basis of the testimonies of criminal convicts and perjured witnesses.

In all of these cases, Duterte has perverted the rule of law by ordering the DOJ and OSG, and influencing, if not intimidating, the courts to do his bidding. He makes an example of his victims, and the rest of the people are simply subjugated to silence, or worse, succumb to the dark side because of the seeming hopelessness of resisting him. In the end, the rule of law is extinguished, our institutions are corrupted, and civil society--stripped of power--resigns to apathy and despair.

As we commemorate the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, we cannot allow this tyrant to further assault and erode our democracy.

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