Duterte silences his loudest critic

By Ted Alcuitas

In a dramatic end to a long standing opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ and its resulting extrajudicial killings , Senator Leila de Lima surrendered  herself to police on Friday, February 24.

“It’s an honor to be jailed for what I’m fighting for,” Senator Leila de Lima said of her arrest for  alleged involvement on illegal drugs when she was Justice Secretary.

“Katulad po ng palagi kong sinasabi at inuulit ko po ngayon, inosente po ako. Wala pong katotohanan, pawang kasinungalingan ang mga pinaparatang po nila sa akin na ako diumano ay nakinabang sa droga, diumano tumanggap ng drug money, diumano ay nag coddle o nag-protect ng mga drug suspects. pawang ho kasinungalinan yan. Lalabas ho ang katotohanan sa tamang panahon,” De Lima said.

“Kung sa tingin po nila ay mapapatahimik po nila ako, kung sa tingin po nila ay hindi na po ako lalaban doon sa mga ipinaglalaban ko lalo na sa katotohanan, sa katarungan laban sa mga araw araw na pagpatay at mga iba pa na mga panggigipit, paniniil nitong rehimeng Duterte, karangalan ko po na ako’y makulong dahi sa mga ipinaglalaban ko po. Ipadasal nyo lang po ako,” she added.

(Like what I’ve always said, and I repeat, I am innocent. There is no truth to the accusations that I benefited from drugs, that I allegedly received drug money, that I allegedly coddled or protected drug suspects, these are all lies. The truth will come out in the right time.
If they think that they can silence me, if they think I will stop fighting for what I fight for, especially for the truth, for justice, against the every day killings and other vexations, assailing of the Duterte regime, then it’s my honor to go to jail for what I am fighting for. Just pray for me.)

It was De Lima, who initiated the Senate probe on alleged extrajudicial killings in the country since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.

De Lima, her former driver and bodyguard and a former national prison official were ordered to be arrested by a local court after a judge found merit in criminal charges filed by the Department of Justice last week.

De Lima has denied the charges, calling herself a victim of political persecution and saying that she has long prepared herself to be the first “political prisoner” under the Duterte administration.

 

Mortal enemies: de Lima and Duterte.

Duterte, 71, won a presidential election last year after promising during the campaign to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.

Since his inauguration on June 30, an anti-drug drive has seen more than 7,000 people killed over suspected drug links – with about 60 percent of the deaths carried out by unknown assassins.

De Lima has previously called for foreign intervention to put an end to the “state-inspired” extrajudicial murders, which she said have been instigated by Duterte since his election to power.

De Lima also led a series of Senate investigations over allegations that police officers were involved in the killings, and that hired killers were operating under orders from police.

De Lima’s supporters insist that she is innocent and that the charges are trumped up to silence one of Duterte’s most prominent critics.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, Senator Paolo Aquino condemned the “political persecution” of his fellow opposition Senate member.

“This arrest is purely political vendetta and has no place in justice system that upholds the rule of law. This is condemnable.

At one point he called on her to “hang herself”, after he ordered prosecutors to investigate the senator’s alleged links to the drug syndicate.

This week, de Lima branded the president a “sociopathic serial killer” after new allegations surfaced accusing Duterte of ordering drug killings in Davao.