DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Despite the Palace’s repeated denial that the drug cases against Senator Leila de Lima are not politically motivated, an international monitoring organization on Monday, accused the Duterte administration for pursuing criminal charges against the former justice secretary who is known to be a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
In its April 7 published report, the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union claimed that De Lima was “targeted due to her outspoken criticism of the impact of the current government’s policies on human rights in the Philippines.”
IPU also scored the President and Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for making statements about De Lima’s prosecution that “flout the principle of the presumption of innocence … and may put undue pressure on the course of [de Lima’s] criminal cases.”
IPU issued its report after De Lima filed a complaint before the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians. The organization premised its decision based on the documents submitted by the Senate president on January when IPU held its Committee hearing on April 3.
De Lima’s complained about the spate of “extrajudicial killings” in the Philippines, a term which has no legal definition under the Philippine laws. Such term gained prominence in 2010 when United Nation Special Rapporteur Philip Alston issued a report because of the unabated extrajudicial executions of leftist activists in the Philippines during the Arroyo administration.
Part of the information filed before the IPU were several reports from the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Among the HRW reports filed were “Licence to Kill: Philippine Police Killings in Duterte’s War on Drugs,”
“You Can Die Any Time: Death Squad Killings in Mindanao” where it details the involvement of police and local government officials in targeted death squad killings in Davao City when Duterte served as the Davao City Mayor.
Included also was the HRW’s 2014 report “One Shot to the Head: Death Squad Killings in Tagum City, Philippines” where it documented police involvement in what appeared to be a copycat policy of extrajudicial killings in a city nearby, Davao City.
HRW also hit out the Duterte administration for abusing the judicial system in order to punish critics of the President in the wake of its anti-illegal drugs campaign, such as the criminal cases filed against De Lima.
“The prosecution of Senator Leila de Lima is an act of political vindictiveness that debases the rule of law in the Philippines,” said Phelim Kine, HRW deputy Asia director.
But Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella maintained that “De Lima’s case is not politically motivated. It is, simply put, ‘criminal in nature.’ The human rights organization might bear that in mind before it attempts to obligate the Duterte administration.”
“It banally disregards the right of a nation to protect its citizens against the menace of a global drug industry, and terrorist-connected drug trade; and that it has done so with assumption of regularity,” Abella said in a statement. (davaotoday.com)