Press Release
September 13, 2017

De Lima chides Aguirre over threats vs. Caloocan Bishop

Senator Leila M. de Lima has come into the defense of Caloocan Bishop Pablo "Ambo" David whom the Department of Justice (DOJ) threatened to charge with obstruction of justice for custody of witnesses.

De Lima, a known human rights defender, said that attacking Bishop David might be the "biggest mistake" President Duterte and Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre can commit.

"Duterte and his attack dogs should be wary of the Bishop of Caloocan. They do not want the Pope himself coming to the aid of his chosen," she said in a Dispatch from Crame No. 159.

"Although it may appear that Duterte has already turned the Filipino people against God, there is nothing like a martyred bishop that will call on Rome to finally raise its banners and wage war against the Devil in this country," she added.

Based on news reports, Aguirre claimed that the Caloocan bishop could be guilty of obstruction of justice because he is taking custody of key witnesses to the August 16 slay of 17-year-old student Kian Loyd de los Santos.

The father of the witnesses reportedly chose to place his children under the custody of the Caloocan Diocese despite prodding from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) to change his decision.

Note that the father was previously in jail for a drug-related case and it was the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) who shouldered his bail.

Maintaining that his decision to provide sanctuary for the witness was motivated only by "faith" not by "politics," Bishop David pointed out his church is "facilitating justice and not obstructing it."

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said Aguirre is leading the VACC and the PAO in a strategic operation to control the EJK narrative by attacking David and pretending to help the families of EJK victims and the witnesses to the killings.

"They who have proclaimed that criminals are not humans, that criminals should be killed, and that there are no EJKs, are now projecting themselves as the protectors of the victims of the drug war they have applauded," she said.

"They are not fooling anyone. This is nothing but Malacañang's damage control operations. By controlling the victims' families and witnesses, Aguirre, PAO Chief Acosta, and the VACC are able to dictate the narrative on the teen killings from hereon, and preempt the public relations nightmare that these have caused the Administration," she added.

The Senator from Bicol expressed confidence that despite bullying by the present administration, Bishop David will remain to be loved by his people.

Since Duterte launched his all-out war on drugs last year, young individuals have been killed, with children as young as five years old in the person of Pangasinan-hailed Danica May, shot dead. Duterte, who has unfailingly backed police-led killings, maintained he would continue his deadly war on drugs that already killed an estimate of 12,000 people, up to the last day of his term in 2022.

A staunch critic of injustices happening in the country since Duterte assumed presidency, De Lima vowed to protect human rights of women and children even while in detention for trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the present administration.

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