De Lima files habeas data suit vs President Duterte

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima today filed a petition for writ of habeas data in the Supreme Court (SC) stopping President Duterte from securing private details about her personal life and using them to degrade her dignity as a human being, a woman and a senator.

Accompanied by some women leaders and supporters, De Lima sought the SC’s order against the President and his men from collecting and using information about her private affairs beyond the dictates of their official functions or public concern.

“This is a good fight. I have the right to fight it so I am invoking my legal right to do so – even if I have to step into untested waters to do it,” she said during a forum “Laban Leila, Laban Kababaihan: A Forum on Habeas Data and Women’s Rights.”

“His lofty position should not be used to perpetuate his personal evil designs against one woman. Ang paglapit ko sa Korte Suprema ang paraan ko para iwaksi ang demonyong pilit ginagawang bangungot ang buhay ko,” she added.

In her petition, De Lima cited several specific occasions where the President has repeatedly subjected her to crude personal verbal attacks which involved the wrongful and unlawful collection and publication of her alleged personal affairs.

“These verbal attacks and threats leveled against me are not covered by presidential immunity from suit because they are not the official acts of a President. They constitute unlawful, unofficial conduct that have nothing to do with his duties,” she said.

The former justice secretary recalled that the President admitted that his personal grudge against her can be traced back to the time when she, as then chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, investigated him for his alleged link with the dreaded Davao Death Squad while he was the local chief executive of Davao City a few years back.

She also pointed out the President’s personal tirades against her had escalated when she initiated a Senate investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings and summary executions carried out in the name of the government’s war on drugs.

De Lima argued these personal verbal attacks and threats blatantly violated Republic Act (R.A.) Nos. 6713 and 9710, also known as “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees” and “Magna Carta of Women”, respectively.

A compact disc containing video and audio recordings of the President’s personal verbal attacks he hurled against Senator de Lima in public was submitted as evidence for the High Court’s appreciation.

She also submitted an assessment report made by Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio, a respectable psychologist specializing in women’s concerns, about the psychological effect inflicted by President Duterte’s acts and utterances against her.

“They (attacks) blatantly violate R.A. 9710, which prohibits psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, and requires that all officials of the State ‘refrain from discriminating against women and violating their rights,'” her petition claimed.

Apart from asking the High Court to stop the President and his men from gathering personal information about her private life, De Lima also asked that these illegally-obtained pieces of private information should be deleted, destroyed, or rectified.

She also asked the Court to bar the President and his men from making public statements that (i) malign her as a woman and degrade her dignity as a human being; (ii) sexually discriminate against her; (iii) describe or publicize her alleged sexual conduct; (iv) constitute psychological violence against her; and (v) otherwise violate her rights or are contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, and/or public interest.

De Lima also sought the Court’s order compelling the President to identify the foreign country that reportedly helped him listen to her private conversation, the manner and means by which he listened to it, and the sources of information about her private affairs.

“This ‘show(s) that he (the President) has been collecting information or has caused the collection of information about petitioner’s private life through unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful ends – to vilify and shame her in public,'” the petition added.

Her petition also contained a long list of samples of hate messages sent to her via short message service and social networking site, notably Facebook, calling her offensive, vulgar names and even issuing vile threats against her personal safety and security.

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