Senator Leila M. de Lima has laughed off Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez’s conspiracy theory that suspicious quarters are lobbying in the US Congress to pressure the administration to stop her political persecution.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, lamented how Romualdez “is insinuating skullduggery” in what global human rights groups are doing in her defense.
“Ambassador Romualdez need not wait for confirmation from their ‘intel’ people whether human rights are lobbying US Congress. Of course, they are. And my situation is not their sole rallying point but the over-all human rights situation in our country,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 620.
“There are HR advocates championing my causes not only in the US but also in the UN and in the EU. And what is wrong with that? What is wrong with various groups fulfilling their mandate and acting in solidarity with victims of persecution and human rights violations like myself? That is the very essence of HR advocacy,” she added.
In his recent column in the Philippine Star , Romualdez claimed that government’s “intelligence people” are verifying reports about certain groups supposedly “using human rights advocates as fronts at the US Congress” in putting pressure on the US Congress.
Note that US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy proposed an “entry ban” into the US against De Lima’s persecutors, through their amendment to the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which was approved by the US Senate Appropriations Committee last Sept. 27.
Before the Durbin-Leahy amendment, five US Senators, including Durbin himself, had filed US Senate Resolution No. 142 last April calling for De Lima’s immediate release and condemning the Philippine government for her continued detention.
In his column, Romualdez further said De Lima, as a former justice secretary, should know that complicated cases, like the charges filed against her by the government, “take time to adjudicate.”
In retort, De Lima said her camp and the human right groups fighting in her defense were not complaining solely about the progress of her case but the persecution done to her due to Duterte’s personal and political vendetta and the abuse of legal processes in aid of persecution.
“My human rights to dignity and due process have been blatantly violated. I have already been prosecuted, tried, and convicted by Duterte himself even before any legal investigation started and criminal charges filed,” she said.
“Many personalities and groups all over the world clearly see the gross injustice done to me, hence, their solidarity with me. For failing to counter this solidarity campaign in the US Congress, Ambassador Romualdez throws up his hands, telling his boss there must be a super-duper top-secret conspiracy that inexistent Philippine intelligence capability failed to detect, and that it was not his fault,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol urged Romualdez to stop what she deemed as his “silly spy and conspiracy crap” because human rights workers are not workers in the shadow as what the latter is projecting them to be.
“The Ambassador makes this sound all conspiratorial and cloak-and-daggerish maybe to justify his principal’s billions in intel funds, but the fact is lobbying is the very reason for being of HR groups, their legitimate job description that is plastered all over their public websites,” she said.
In her earlier Dispatch from Crame No. 611, De Lima belied Romualdez’s earlier statement that due process was supposedly observed in filing politically-motivated drug charges against her. (30)