The President may be singing a different tune by backtracking on his constant public attacks against me but his sudden parade of uncharacteristic discretion and self-restraint will not change how he prejudiced my right to a fair trial through his previous statements, Senator Leila M. de Lima today has said.
De Lima, who has since been subject of shameful and misogynistic attacks by President Duterte, said the President’s sudden refusal to comment on her cases will not change how he contributed to making her a victim of trial by publicity.
“Out of the blue, the President suddenly remembered the sub judice rule and why he, as Chief Executive, should know better than to make public statements that prejudge and undermine the presumption of innocence of an accused, whose case has already been filed by his own prosecutors before the courts,” she said in a Dispatch from Crame No. 149.
“[But] no amount of backtracking can erase those shameful and shameless tirades now. By his own acts, he has prejudiced my right to a fair trial by effectively poisoning and impairing the independence of the courts. As countless embarrassing recordings would attest to, this President has had no qualms about persecuting me, of adjudging me guilty, and even sentencing me to go hang myself,” she added.
Based on reports, Duterte declined to welcome further questions from the media regarding his reaction on the recent statement of the Women’s Caucus of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), that there was not enough evidence to incarcerate De Lima for alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade and the CALD’s accompanying call for the immediate release of De Lima.
While the President reportedly said he does not want to talk about De Lima’s because it is already in court, he nevertheless rebuffed the CALD’s call to release De Lima from detention, asking “on what grounds?”
Note that the Women’s Caucus of the CALD, represented by lawmakers from Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, visited De Lima last Aug. 31 to check on her condition as they sought for her release. They further called on Duterte to cease from politically persecuting the Senator.
De Lima, a former Justice secretary, said Duterte continues to peddle lies by pretending not to know on what grounds he should effect her immediate release.
“Of course, he knows on what grounds: on the grounds that the charges against me are all fabricated, based on the perjured statements of convicted felons; that even the perjured testimonies they provided are grossly inadequate to support the finding of probable cause; that the charges filed are even inconsistent with what little evidence the prosecution has; and, most of all, this is all part of my political persecution for daring to stand up for human rights and against EJKs,” she said.
“The President knows what he and his men have done. And he knows he has the power to order prosecutors to withdraw the cases against me in order to rectify a monumental wrong. Unfortunately, he does not have the guts to man up to it, and do what is right–free an innocent woman, and stop the killings of his own people,” she added.
A “Prisoner of Conscience,” De Lima continues to gain support from different international organizations and human rights groups who condemn her illegal arrest and unjust detention.