Press Release
July 1, 2020

Dispatch from Crame No. 831:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on the Dismissal of the Case Against Teacher Ronnel Mas

The dismissal of the charges against Zambales teacher Ronnel Mas is certainly a breath of fresh air, coming as it does from a judiciary that has mostly upheld the autocrat's side in legal challenges to the Duterte administration's legal offensive on the opposition and ordinary citizens who dare to express their opinions against Duterte. It was a battle won in a fight that is still going to take long before it ends. This is the fight for human rights, democracy, free speech, and independence from a Chinese puppet government.

As the dictator's term nears its end two years from today, we hope to see more acts of judicial independence like the one exhibited by Judge Richard Paradeza of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City. It must have been a very difficult decision for him, not because of the complexity of the legal issue involved, but because the offended party was none other than the dictator himself.

It was clear from the very start that Mas was illegally arrested. What was not so clear was if there remains a judge in the Philippines who would dare to uphold the rule of law at the cost of his own career, or maybe even of his own personal security. I salute him for his courage to stare down at tyranny and injustice and his dedication to uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It is not easy to go against a strongman who is in complete control of the State's apparatus for violence. I personally know this as I was Duterte's very first example and object lesson on what happens to those who oppose him and his murdering ways. For this I continue to languish in jail well into the last two years of his term as President, still with no clear and credible evidence of my culpability in the trumped-up charges the DOJ under then SOJ Aguirre has filed against me.

But for me there is still hope, as Judge Paradeza has demonstrated that I can still expect justice, no matter how remotely, under the reign of the dictator, so long as there are men and women of the judiciary, who will live up to their lawyer's oath not to give aid or consent to any groundless, false or unlawful suit.

God help our judges in these times of injustice, when rendering justice for others can result to the infliction of injustice on themselves.

(Access the handwritten version of Dispatch from Crame No. 831, here:

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