Press Release
January 23, 2020

Dispatch from Crame No. 706:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on the Supreme Court's Dismissal of her Habeas Data Petition


I am, of course, disappointed by the Supreme Court's junking of my Petition for Habeas Data, filed way back on Nov. 7, 2016.

While I respect the Resolution, I cannot help but think that the Supreme Court has allowed Mr. Duterte to hide, like a coward, behind the protection of the "Office of the President" for his personal and despicable words and deeds. I cannot help but think that the Supreme Court's decision has the effect of emboldening attacks against women by undermining the acts of two branches of government that passed a law protecting women, and stripping Filipino women of the protection that the judiciary is mandated to afford them.

I've always believed that the presidential immunity from suit is meant for the Office, not the man who abuses its powers and destroys its dignity. And the acts of the occupant of that Office attacking a woman, contrary to the explicit protections under the Magna Carta of Women--a law validly passed by two branches of Congress, including the Office of the President--may not fall within the ambit of that legal shield. Sadly, our Supreme Court held otherwise.

The timing of the belated release of the 15 October 2019 Resolution, penned by then Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, is serendipitous. Just today, CNN has released an article, entitled "Troll armies, 'deepfake' porn videos and violent threats. How Twitter became so toxic for India's women politicians." It describes how women politicians and activists receive "nonstop harassment" for being outspoken critics of the ruling administration, and that "Against this backdrop, prominent women politicians routinely find themselves subject to manipulated online posts, a worrying trend in a country where fake news has led to violence."

The article is based on data and analysis by Amnesty International India, which states, in part, "It's what women have long been telling the world. We now have the data to back it up."

Thus, Amnesty called for changes, particularly those that concretely provide "a 'safe space' to women and marginalised communities;" otherwise, "the silencing effect of abuse ... will continue to stand in the way of women's right to expression and equality."

Politics is NOT an excuse or a get-out-of-jail-free card for abusing women. No one is above the law. Not even if your surname is Duterte. Because Duterte the man, who harassed a woman for daring to exercise her right to participate in public discourse, is not Duterte the President. The Office of the President signed a law protecting women; it is the man who violates it. And for that he deserves no protection.

If anything, this development only makes it clear to me that accountability for the wrongs done to me and being done to me by my chief oppressor, while he remains in power, lies in the global sphere, as exemplified by the recent actions from the US Congress and, earlier, the Opinion rendered last Nov. 2018 by the UNHRC Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).

Impeachment, as naively suggested in the SC Resolution itself, in a Congress that is overwhelmingly stacked in favor of Mr. Duterte, is a futile remedy for me or anyone who dares speak truth to power.

Still, I shall not relent until I attain justice. ###

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 706, here:

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