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For two years now, the advent of a New Year painfully brings to mind the impending anniversary of my detention. In six weeks, I would be under detention for two full years. 2 years of unjust detention as a prisoner of conscience. Guilty of nothing more and nothing less than the sin of “doing the right thing.”

I have developed a new pet peeve. It used to be clerical errors: I have an eagle eye in spotting typographical and grammatical errors. Now, what really irks me is when people – most of them well-meaning, but unintentionally infuriating – attempt to summarize my unjust detention and political persecution as a consequence of the political climate. “Weather-weather lang yan, Leila.”

It infuriates and hurts me – this unfair oversimplification of what I am going through. It even implies that, when I was under better political climate, I did as my enemies now have done to me.

I protest! Vehemently and indignantly.

I have persecuted no one for political reasons or personal vengeance.

I have killed no one. I have stolen nothing. I have sold or traded no drugs. I have not conspired with anyone to engage in any criminal activity.

I confess to one thing and one thing only: I made powerful enemies by performing my mandate without fear or favor. I am here, under detention, for no other reason than our efforts then at accountability led us up a trail that reached powerful and influential personalities: a former President, a Senate President, Senators, Congressmen, local government chief executives … and now even an incumbent President.

Under my leadership, the DOJ and its attached agencies simply went where the evidence took us. And despite recent developments – including puzzling and suspicious acquittals – I am certain that Filipinos know the truth of the matter: elections and billions of taxpayers’ money were stolen.

As for me, if anyone wants to truly scrutinize and seek the corpus delicti of my alleged crimes, really, you will find no drugs, no money trail, no illicit or unexplained wealth. Instead, look at my public service record. There you will find the investigations that were conducted under my term as CHR Chair and DOJ Secretary, my privilege speeches, the resolutions I filed, my writings, interviews and statements. Those are my “sins.”

This is not a matter of “weather-weather”.

Even when the political winds blew in my favor, I suborned no false testimonies, I fabricated no evidence, I invented no false and baseless charges – as proved by the fact that the Office of the Ombudsman filed cases after its own investigation, and the decision of the Sandiganbayan in a recent case of acquittal was far from unanimous.

Even when the weather was fair for me, I held nothing more sacred than Truth, Justice and the Rule of Law.

I am reminded of former US Attorney General Elliot Richardson, who is perhaps better known as “The Martyr of Watergate” – the head of the US DOJ who chose to resign than heed President Richard Nixon’s order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. At about the same time that the US President was under investigation for the Watergate scandal, three federal prosecutors came to him to report that their corruption investigation has revealed that the official who is first-in-line to succeed the President, Vice Pres. Spiro Agnew, was engaging in extortion and bribery activities.

AG Richardson was a Republican cabinet member, serving a twice-elected Republican President and his very popular Republican running mate. Knowing the peril that the White House was under because of the Watergate scandal, the 3 federal prosecutors fully expected AG Richardson to tell them to shut the investigation down – after all, the worst time to indict a Vice President is when the President is about to be impeached and possibly indicted too. To their surprise, AG Richardson said no such thing. He didn’t decide based on political climate or political affiliation.

He decided based on what is right.

Just as I did. Time and again.

For that decision, AG Richardson received the John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official.

This February, I will receive an award that I will proudly accept: my second year as a prisoner of conscience.

So, please, spare me the “weather-weather” false narrative. ###

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