Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has commended Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Richard Paradeza for upholding justice by dismissing the inciting to sedition charge against public school teacher Ronnel Mas who was arrested without a warrant on May 11.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, said the dismissal of the charge against Mas was “a battle won” in the people’s ongoing fight for human rights, democracy, free speech, and independence from the current Chinese puppet government.
“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,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 831.
“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,” she added.
Based on media reports, operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Mas without a warrant in Zambales after a co-teacher identified him as the owner of a Twitter account that carried the now-deleted tweet offering a P50 million reward for Mr. Duterte’s killing.
Judge Paradeza quashed the information against Mas, noting that the public school teacher was illegally arrested and his subsequent media confession did not cure the invalidity of the arrest.
As the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, De Lima said she is aware that it is not easy for anybody to stand up to, and call out Duterte for his wrongdoings and abuses.
“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,” she said.
“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,” added De Lima, who continues to languish in jail over trumped-up drug charges.
As Duterte’s term nears its end in roughly two years’ time, De Lima said she hopes to see more acts of judicial independence like the one exhibited by Judge Paradeza.
“[F]or 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,” she said.
“God help our judges in these times of injustice, when rendering justice for others can result to the infliction of injustice on themselves,” she added. (30)