Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called Mr. Duterte a “coward dictator” who should be arrested and should spend the rest of his life behind bars for the crimes he committed against the victims of extrajudicial killings in the country.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said Duterte has resorted to ordering the jailing of his critics, including her, because he fears prosecution and trial for widespread human rights violations during his rule.
“Si Duterte ay isang ganap nang diktador. Pero duwag na diktador. Siya dapat ang arestuhin at makulong,” De Lima said as she emerged from a court hearing at the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 206 last Sept. 11.
Since Duterte assumed presidency, more than 23,000 have been killed either by “legitimized” police operations or vigilante-style executions. Worse, the innocent children who died are now regarded by the government as mere “collateral damage.”
Instead of reconsidering his murderous policy on how to combat illegal drugs, Duterte resorted to targeting his critics – including De Lima and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV – who both consistently called out his abuses of power.
Through Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572, which revoked an amnesty given to Trillanes due to two failed military uprisings 15 years ago, he ordered soldiers and police to arrest Trillanes. While the authorities failed to arrest Trillanes who remains at the Senate building to date, his situation is reminiscent of the plight of De Lima, who was also holed up, overnight, in her Senate before she presented herself to authorities on fake drug charges in Feb. 24, 2017.
The Senator from Bicol said Duterte found a great partner in Solicitor General Jose Calida in undermining the country’s justice system by fabricating trumped-up charges to silence his administration’s critics.
“Si Duterte at Calida, tandem sa pagpaslang ng hustisya sa bansa,” she said. It may be recalled that Duterte has confirmed it was Calida who did most of the research work to unearth the alleged “flaws” in the amnesty granted to Trillanes by then President Benigno S. Aquino III.