Fight for Freedom and Other Writings

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Fight for Freedom and Other Writings By Leila M. de Lima 2018 Prize for Freedom Awardee

ISBN 978-621-95852-3-1 All rights reserved. First printing, August 2018. The content of this publication may be copied, adapted, and redistributed provided that the material is not used for commercial purposes and that proper attribution be made.

Published by: The Office of Senator Leila M. de Lima Rm. 502 & 16 (New Wing 5/F) GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Diokno Blvd., Pasay City Tel.: (632) 552-6601 to 70 local nos. 5750 / 8619

Published in the Philippines.

To my oppressors: Jailing me despite my innocence is your burden to keep. To the Filipino people: No matter the persecution, I will never stop fighting. Dedicated to family, friends, and supporters who cry out for my freedom.


What you have in your hands is a collection of writings by Senator Leila de Lima, and by many others about her plight; it puts on the record what she has gone through, and how her rights have been trampled upon in the year and a half that she has been unjustly incarcerated. Simply put, this book gives its readers the opportunity to see the entire picture. I submit: Some may choose never to know the truth, believing that if they ignore the problem, it would not visit them. In this regard, one is reminded of the tale of the ostrich that chose to bury its head in the sand. As it stands, this collection sends a clear message: If injustice could be done to Leila, a sitting Senator, injustice could be done to anyone. One therefore is challenged to make a personal inquiry: What could I do; and if I have done something, is it enough? In all this, I am reminded of what my own father once told me: “If you allow the rights of others to be violated, you are setting up the condition for your own rights to be violated.� I am certain that, when the time comes, our people, cognizant of this undeniable and enduring truth, will do what is right.


Former President of the Republic of the Philippines


FROM MY DESK We are Stormbreakers Lesson from Prison: How Political Persecution Keeps the Ideals of Democracy Alive In Dark Times, the UDHR is the Beacon that History Has Lit: Reflections of a Detainee A beacon in dark times: the UDHR turns 70 but why do we still need it?

1 7 11 15

2 FREEDOM FIGHTERS A Duty to Speak Out Shining a Light on Threats to Freedom and Human Rights The Indomitable Spirit of a Freedom Fighter 3

35 37 39 41 43 46 51 55 58 60


Messages of Support and Congratulations A Letter from James Rice 5

23 27


Beyond hyperbole Justice for Leila is justice for all Abnormal evolution of justice Senator De Lima’s struggle vs institutional bombardment A disturbing, unsettling decision Leila Dear President Duterte, about Sen. Leila de Lima… Leila on my mind De Lima’s words De-vilifying Sen. Leila de Lima 4


71 80

TRUTH BE TOLD Dispatch from Crame No. 192 My Motion for Reconsideration A Timeline of Political Persecution and Injustice The World is Watching

85 88 108 117

(Felipe Villamor, March 2017)

Part I:


WORKING SENATOR | The only existing photo of Senator Leila de Lima from inside detention was taken surreptitiously by a visiting journalist in the early months of her detention. Despite being denied a laptop, phone, and other communication gadgets, De Lima remains a productive Senator. She writes dispatches, drafts bills and resolutions from a small work desk inside her cell.


We are Stormbreakers by Senator Leila M. de Lima

(My acceptance speech for the awarding ceremony of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom held at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018, delivered on my behalf by my brother, Vicente “Vicboy” de Lima II—leftmost in photo.)

A glorious evening to all our friends and fellow defenders of human rights who have taken the time to be here tonight. In particular, I would like to acknowledge our guests and fellow members of the global liberal family, who have travelled from all of the world just to be here today. I also acknowledge my fellow Liberal Party members, particularly, our Chairman, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo, who graciously joins tonight’s celebration as our Guest of Honor. I am truly grateful that life has brought me down this path. If I had lived the relatively quiet life of a private law practitioner, of a daughter, a sister, a mother and a grandmother, I assuredly would never have crossed paths with many of you here tonight. How blessed am I, therefore, that all of the people gathered here – including our honored guests from abroad – are here to join me in giving thanks for the honor of being this year’s awardee of Liberal International’s Prize for Freedom? Extremely. I am extremely and unconditionally blessed, so much so that there is no room in my heart for regrets or second thoughts. No 1


room for “could haves”, “would haves” or “should haves”. I am where I am now because I did the right thing. Therefore, this is a night of both thanksgiving and reaffirmation. I may have been the most vocal and one of the first to raise the alarm against the spate of extrajudicial killings perpetrated under this regime, but I do not stand alone, and many laid the foundation long before I entered the public service. So, allow me please to give thanks to some of them. First of all, let us all celebrate those who had built this world we live in today. In the words of Edmund Burke, “Society is a partnership of the dead, the living and the unborn.” As bleak as it may seem now, we know that it could be worse and, in fact, generations of human beings before us did, indeed, had to suffer worse fates. But out of those ashes this new world was rebuilt. Made stronger by the simple fact that it is more humane and, therefore, more conscious of the dignity and value of human life. And that is why we have such instruments now as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that we may not have to go through the same horrors, and commit the same mistakes of those who came before us. It is the beacon that transcends time by shining its light all the way from the past, in order to guide our way here and now, and into future. Secondly, whatever I am doing now, it is to honor my father, former COMELEC Commissioner Vicente De Lima, who always cautioned me to do only what is right and justifiable. In two days, we will be commemorating his 6th death anniversary. And though he is decidedly part of a generation that has passed, I am determined to continue honoring him by doing nothing that would bring shame to him, to our family or to the public service that he himself was once a part of. Thirdly, I acknowledge the influence in my life of three Filipino Presidents. As a recipient of the LI Prize for Freedom award, I stand on the shoulders of a giant.



As a public servant, as a Filipino, as an advocate for the ideals that LI stands for, and as a woman, I can only hope to emulate the example that has been set by former President Corazon C. Aquino. I find inspiration in the grace, strength, wisdom and courage she had displayed in the face of various adversities, including personal tragedies. She was, and always will be, the epitome of a world-renowned advocate of democracy, peace, and the empowerment of women. She did not just fight and defeat a dictator, she was instrumental in the creation of a Constitution that was intended to ensure that one will never rise and wrest power away from the people ever again. She left a legacy that you and I are honored to continue and protect. Next, I acknowledge the role of former President Gloria MacapagalArroyo in setting me on this path, when she appointed me back in 2008, as Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights. It was during a critical time during her Administration, when the human rights record of the Philippine Government was sounding an alarm all over the world. You might not have expected to hear me acknowledge her, but it is true. At the time, I was called the “surprise choice”. And I was. No one was more surprised by it than me. I had no background in human rights, but – as many of you know – I am not one to back off from a challenge. I was, and still am, faithful to the mandate I was given – the CHR and I embarked on investigations into extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, deaths of civilians at the hands of policemen and other state agents, heinous crimes, among others. In fact, the Commission travelled all the way to Davao to investigate the Davao Death Squad because it was brought to our collective attention by Prof. Philip Alston, who was then the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. And the rest, as they say, is history. Everything that I have done since then – in championing Human Rights, fighting for the Rule of Law and defending against corruption, abuse and impunity – has its roots in that fateful appointment. I do believe, however, that she has since realized that she got more than she bargained for.



Finally, I give thanks to the President I am most honored to have worked with, President Benigno S. Aquino III. God truly works in mysterious ways – that I ended up serving 5 of my most fulfilling years in public service under a President I did not even know personally before my appointment as his Secretary of Justice. Our faith in the Rule of Law, in holding public officials accountable, in the importance of truth and selfless public service, and in defending human rights were so aligned that it didn’t matter that we’ve known each other for such a relatively short time. I thank him for his faith in me, then and now. Which brings me to the real reason we are here today. I know very well that you are not here just to honor one person. Our friends in the international community did not travel here and brave our monsoon rains and storms just to join a celebration. We are here to profess our continued commitment to the ideals of democracy, rule of law and human rights and freedoms. We are here because our work is far from being done. And what is our work? I find inspiration in the weather. Dictators, oppressive leaders and human rights abusers are national and transnational disasters. They come bringing violence, destruction and terror to the populace. When they leave, they leave behind devastated nations, dead and dying people, hopelessness, helplessness, and a precarious world order. We are what protects the people from these national and transnational disasters. We are the people in the lighthouses and watchtowers, who call out warnings that a destructive force is bearing down on us. We are always on the alert so that people can afford to live their lives being secure in the knowledge that watchdogs like us are ever alert and ever willing to 4


risk ourselves just to sound the alarm when it becomes necessary. We are the breakwater that protects the people from the pounding waves. We defend them from abusers and, in doing so, make ourselves the target. We are the levee that regulates the flow of raging floods, that they may not devastate people’s lives, property and security. Institutions like the International Criminal Court are our disaster insurance. If the worst should ever come to pass, there is a mechanism by which we can bring both accountability and redress for the victims. Luckily for us, unlike natural disasters, the enemies of democracy are not irrepressible. They may be megalomaniacs, but they are mere humans who fear free-thinking people whom they cannot control. Being mortal, they can be stopped and brought to justice. So if we maintain and defend the foundations of our freedoms – such as the UDHR, national Constitutions that recognize and protect democracy and human rights, and national and international institutions that uphold the rule of law – all together we can be Stormbreakers – one that neutralizes a potentially devastating force, long before it can take hold. And that means that our work is never done. We do not obtain disaster insurance or build breakwaters, levees, watchtowers and lighthouses only when the storm is already raging. They have to be built and maintained, even and especially, during times of calm. So that they are there, ready to protect, when the time comes. Dictators, oppressors and abusers come and go. But we, the defenders of the people, can never rest. Even if we have to start from teaching a whole new generation something so basic and simple that human life and human rights are not opposites. That there is no dichotomy between the two. That one cannot be defended by trading it off with the other.



That one cannot claim to fight for human lives, while their hands are stained red with the blood of their victims. That anyone who suggests otherwise is no better than a wolf that pretends to be a shepherd, and delivers the flock to slaughter. In the vernacular, that is the mantra of the bantay-salakay, or the guardians who themselves attack those they are guarding. So, to answer Juvenal’s ancient question: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who guards the guardians? Tonight, we declare, it is us. We guard the guardians. Here in the Philippines, I am confident to know that, as I declare this, I stand with my fellow members of the Liberal Party under the leadership of LP President, Senator Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan, and the principled courage exhibited by our Chairperson, Vice President Leni Robredo. She herself is fighting a battle on her own front to uphold the will of the people while, at the same time, continuing to sound off on critical issues affecting our people and our sovereignty. I hold her as an outstanding example that though we, as a Party and as individual members, along with our allies, may be referred to as the “minority”, we are nonetheless never silent, nor will we ever allow ourselves to be cowed into subservience. Though I have been in detention now for 520 days, the surreality of being so physically constrained, yet so spiritually liberated and uplifted is a reward all on its own. Again, thank you for this honor. I humbly submit myself to the protection of democracy, freedoms, human rights and the rule of law. Thank you, Liberal International! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!



Lesson from Prison: How Political Persecution Keeps the Ideals of Democracy Alive by Senator Leila M. de Lima

(I wrote this opinion piece as part of the Silver Lining Series written by members of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), an organization of liberal and democratic parties in Asia which celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2018.)

In the evening of February 23, 2017, I was in my office in the Philippine Senate, waiting for the hours to pass until the agreed time of my surrender. That night marked the very height of the hounding I had been suffering at the hands of the President and his henchmen. Yes, hounding, for I felt like a prey being toyed with and tortured by a predator right before it went for the kill. It started with verbal attacks from the President himself, who vowed to destroy me publicly because I represented the human rights movement that, in his perception, made him its “whipping boy”. Then his men all threw in their own kicks and punches. I was slut-shamed. Videos and photos were spliced. Perjured testimonies were bought and collected. A colleague of mine in the Senate even jokingly described me as the “most wiretapped person in the country,” and the President himself admitted that he was listening into my correspondences with the help of a “friendly nation.”



It became a game of who can earn the most brownie points by brutalizing that irrepressible Leila M. de Lima. For a while, I was referred to as an unnamed female government official. But anyone who knew me or Duterte, or, at least, knew about the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) that were happening as early as the first two months of his Presidency and his so-called “War on Drugs”, knew that he was referring to me. After all, I had delivered a privilege speech before the Philippine Senate calling for a stop to the killings. While I expressed support for the campaign against illegal drugs, I objected to the use of extrajudicial killings as a means to solve it, for it is the embodiment of an evil far greater than what we were fighting. “Impunity, once unleashed, has no boundaries. It does not care who dies. It does not care who suffers. …[It] has no sense of right or wrong. It is as amoral as it is immoral. “We need not destroy lives in order to destroy drugs,” I said. And with that, I signed my own arrest warrant. It was bound to happen. The enemies I made – as Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, as Secretary of Justice and, now, as Senator of the Philippine Republic – were too powerful and had demonstrated their brutality even before I became a public servant. As far as I was concerned, short of killing me, my enemies have already done their worst. And I thank them for making that mistake. It placed me somewhere I could not have reached without their help: in the company of giants and immortals. Nelson Mandela. Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. of the Philippines. In Asia, Ilham Toti, who was named the winner of the Martin Ennals Foundation’s award. And many, many others. Just like that, I was no longer just one woman. I’m a prisoner of conscience. My persecutors thought that putting someone like me in jail will isolate me until I wither into oblivion. I have to say, in my 10 years in public service, this has been the most liberating and most engaging experience of my life. 8


In the past, I was knowledgeable and well-versed in the problems I was trying to draw attention to on an intellectual and, perhaps, even on a sympathetic level. But there was a line dividing and isolating me from the people I am defending. Now, that line has been dissolved. And that came with so many realizations. First, political persecution is never about the individual. It is about an idea. You cannot kill or jail an idea. By persecuting the messenger, you strengthen it. Second, this is a lesson that we, too, as the defenders of human rights, democracy and the rule of law should learn and always bear in mind. Authoritarianism and populism are ideas that can never be killed. They are always there in the shadows of the human mind and society, waiting for someone to expertly manipulate reality, or the people’s perception of reality, to make them seem like the one and true answer to all of the people’s woes. The moment we think we’ve “won”, we slide into complacency and plant the seeds for the rise of the next populist or authoritarian ruler. Instead, we must constantly address the ideas they represent head on, bearing in mind what makes movements like authoritarianism and populism so attractive to people. Note, it isn’t because people are irrational. It is because people are trying to act rationally while having an imperfect knowledge of the past, the present and the future. News flash: fake news and propaganda aren’t anything new. Only the platforms and the technology are new, making them more effective and powerful in manipulating people into making the wrong decisions. Third, populists and authoritarians create the illusion of simplicity, compared with the “lofty” ideals of democracy and liberalism, i.e., human rights, rule of law, democracy and freedom. If we are ineffective in connecting these with people’s “real” daily needs, we will always be accused of being out-of-touch elites, paving the way for populists and authoritarians to step in. 9


It is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs applied to public governance. A hungry man just wants to eat. A woman who is afraid just wants to feel protected. A parent whose child fell victim to the drug menace just wants to see the drug problem eliminated. That’s when a populist leader comes in and promises that those can be achieved, but only if sacrifices are made. That’s when he or she can boldly say that “human rights is the enemy”. By the time the people realize their mistakes, they are little more than slave labor and secondary citizens in their own countries, being forced to live in subhuman conditions. To avert this, we must learn to speak to our people, not to talk over them, expecting them to see what we see. Because, as a victim, I realized that when you are trapped within the four corners of your daily life, it is hard to see, much less care, about the big picture. Finally, political persecution is a threat to democracy. Persecutors want their victims to be silenced, and for others to take heed and obey. But it is also a warning in another sense: it is better to be proactive, than be passive. If I had kept quiet – as I was asked to do about my objections about the EJKs – it would have been easier to assassinate my character in the eyes of the public, should I finally be moved to say something later. At least I had my track record as proof and testament of my innocence. If we stay silent once, we have to stay silent forever. We might as well pack our bags, admit defeat and surrender our humanity. But, if it is true that “the hottest place in hell is reserved to those, who, in times of moral crisis, refuse to take a stand,” I would rather be jailed in defense of what is right, than go to hell in the company of those responsible for our collective descent into impunity, fear, and inhumanity.



In Dark Times, the UDHR is the Beacon that History Has Lit: Reflections of a Detainee by Senator Leila M. de Lima

(This is the original opinion piece I wrote for the Liberal International (LI) which awarded me the Prize for Freedom in 2018)

There are some of us to whom life is not just about one’s own existence, but about building a society, and advancing humanity and the world we inhabit. Such a preoccupation isn’t a matter of whether one’s career is public service or in politics, but a matter of what we understand is meant by being “part of society”. To paraphrase the words of Edmund Burke, it is a partnership whose ends cannot be obtained in one generation. Thus, it is a “partnership … between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” For those people, life isn’t a straight line, but continuous waves that perpetually ebb and flow. What one voice lays down, the next one picks up, and on and on the world goes. That is the most basic driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Fewer and fewer of the people who were alive then are still living with us now, but their generation nonetheless had the forethought to attempt to teach us, across the barriers of time and place, to do better than they did when the world was theirs to govern.



But every single day, there seems to be a growing resolve to forget the lessons of the past. Some would say history is but repeating itself. Others would say that the fight we face today isn’t exactly the same as the ones our forebears fought. Both are correct. The evil we face today is more subtle, and savvier at manipulating people and their perception of the world and of history. Our own fears and aspirations used against us, driving us to destroy ourselves so that we can be overpowered and ruled completely. It is not enough to conquer, oppress and abuse blatantly. Now, it has to be done in a slow, creeping manner – creeping authoritarianism clothed in populist rhetoric, creeping territorial conquests through economic and military power, and discrimination and racism fueled by latent prejudices – with people none the wiser until it is too late. It is done by destroying our belief in the things that are meant to protect and defend us. Democratic institutions and exercises like elections are being corrupted and manipulated. Constitutions that are protective of human rights are being targeted for defacement. Truth and facts have become irrelevant. Defense of human rights itself is being attacked as the problem, rather than the crucial part of the solution that it truly is. Human rights defenders themselves have become victims of abuse. After 512 days in detention, that is how I have come to view the world and, indeed, reconciled myself with the role I am currently playing in it. My detention is among those moves calculated at chilling the people against everything I stood for: truth, justice, due process, human rights and rule of law. It is not enough that I am silenced. My credibility has to be destroyed. 12


First, with misogynistic attacks calculated at destroying my dignity as person and as a woman, and accusations that are intended to vilify me in the eyes of my countrymen. Second, through fabricated charges that are not even supported by the falsified and hearsay statements of convicted felons. Third, by my actual arrest. A vivid message that this is what happens to those who would dare criticize the President’s so-called “War on Drugs”. On the surface, there is a veneer of legitimacy to what was done to me. On the surface, everything seems to be following “due process”. In truth, my detention is absolutely arbitrary in both senses that the word is intended and was used by the drafters of Article 9 of the UDHR when they set out to afford the greatest possible scope of protection to personal liberty, i.e., in its objective sense (“unlawful” as it is not in accordance with law), and subjective sense (“unreasonable” as it is based on anti-democratic practices that my government has embarked on). It is arbitrary in its objective sense because, in the words of one Supreme Court Justice, the proceedings thus far have “disregarded and curtailed [my] right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against [me] and to be presumed innocent, again showing bias against [me].” Yet, no relief has been forthcoming. It is likewise arbitrary in its subjective sense because, beneath the lip service paid to procedures, the political and anti-democratic motivations for my detention is apparent – especially when it was the President himself and his Secretary of Justice who publicly condemned me, without any proof or investigation or trial, even before complaints were formally filed against me. All because I called attention to the spate of extrajudicial killings being committed by state agents, particularly the Philippine National Police. The veneer of legitimacy dissolves if you consider that the Chief of the PNP that helmed the War on Drugs then is now the Director-General of the Bureau of Corrections, who has custody of the witnesses against me and who had commented to the same witnesses that they better be careful because they might be state witnesses now, but dying witnesses later. 13


The undemocratic bent of these state actions become even more clear when they deny me – an incumbent Senator of the Republic and a citizen enjoying the presumption of innocence – the opportunity to perform my functions as a lawmaker and a representative of the Filipino people. I am detained, not because I am guilty of any offense, but because they fear defenders of human rights. They fear those who will stand up for the poor, the defenseless and the oppressed, for we are what stands between them and their consolidation of absolute power and dominion. They fear those who live up to their end of the social contract. Thus, although it is tempting to lose hope under these circumstances, their fear fuels me, and the hope I harbor is owed in part to those who have come before me, who had the foresight to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and include in it a guarantee of personal liberty that maximizes protection against “arbitrary” detention in its broadest sense. Someday I will regain my freedom, and it would be because our society is standing on the foundation built by the generations that have come before us. Dictators and oppressive regimes may come and go – they may even attempt to evade justice, including the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court – but truth and the rule of law will prevail anyway. Justice and human rights will have their day.



A beacon in dark times: the UDHR turns 70 but why do we still need it? by Senator Leila M. de Lima and Morten Østergaard

(This is the final opinion piece which I co-wrote with Morten Østergaard (right), former Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark and now MP for Folketing, Denmark and political leader of Radikale Venstre)

(As part of a Liberal International (LI) campaign to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights parliamentarians from LI member parties are being invited to write short opinion articles pertaining to some of the UDHR’s primary articles.)

A blueprint adopted by world leaders to set humanity on a trajectory towards increased security and greater freedoms; this year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Rapid decolonisation across continents, development of democratic institutions, and a faster rate of growth and human progress than has ever been recorded followed in the decades after the UDHR’s adoption. So why should the UDHR matter to people in the Philippines, Denmark or any other part of the world today? We, the authors, are parliamentarians half a world apart - separated by sprawling continents, vast oceans, ethnic nuances, and unique traditions. But we are united by our values: the rule of law, human rights, and individual responsibility among others. The scale of our physical separation or differing cultural backgrounds in no way prevents us 15


from spotting injustice in the world, coming together, and fighting to correct it. Right now, we believe, this fight has not been so important for 70 years. “For one of us, marking a 59th birthday today, defending our shared liberal-democratic values has resulted in 550 days of politically-motivated incarceration.”

In 1948, the world’s political leaders possessed an unambiguous motivation, a purpose, and a clear sense of direction - at the heart of which sat democratic ideals like justice. Today, many world leaders are questioning, indeed even turning their backs on, international cooperation simply wishing to avoid the first hint of trouble. No group in our societies - young, old, poor, educated, one race or another – is exempt from the challenges we face in one form or another. The values enshrined in the UDHR are in desperate need of resuscitation. If freedom-loving, democracy-cherishing peoples fail to come together, to act, to speak out soon, then we will quickly discover that events take over and that we will have started acting too late. Populist-nationalists have our democracies in their sights and they have already fired an opening salvo. “Like the proverbial ‘frog in a pot’ we are sleepwalking backwards towards darker times.”

The spectre of creeping authoritarianism draped in a cloak of populist rhetoric has led to the act of defending of human rights itself as being portrayed as the problem, rather than the crucial part of the solution. Today, it is not enough to oppress and abuse so blatantly. Now, it has to be done in a slow, sneaking manner. First they strip you of your dignity and vilify you; then they falsify charges against you; finally, the point is held in stark relief: the cost of dissent evident for all to see. “We must be concerned with the future as much as we are with the past.”



In 2015, as the Philippines’ Secretary of Justice under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and Morten as Denmark’s Minister of the Economy and Interior, my country was winning plaudits for its social and economic advancement. Three short years later and most indicators show President Duterte’s Philippines is in serious trouble, the so-called ‘war on drugs’ has seen tens-of-thousands extra-judicially killed, and politicians incarcerated without credible evidence. We cannot sit by while Russian meddling delivers repressive governments in certain European countries; as the politics of division is permitted to pervade the United States; or when human rights that protect workers, voters, and the vulnerable in parts of Asia are throttled to further enrich the powerful. Inaction is a choice not a defence: one of the fathers of British liberalism, John Stuart Mill, summarised this forcefully when he wrote “let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more… than that good men should look on and do nothing.” At its core the UDHR is a device, a functional mechanism, to bring world leaders together and agree on a basic set of principles relating to the treatment of people. If a president here or a prime minister there begins to stray from these commitments then it is our joint responsibility – from senior politicians to grass-roots campaigners - to stand up, to object, and to work together to ensure that everyone honours his or her commitments.



We are the people in the lighthouses and watchtowers, who call out warnings that a destructive force is bearing down on us. We are always on the alert so that people can afford to live their lives being secure in the knowledge that watchdogs like us are ever alert and ever willing to risk ourselves just to sound the alarm when it becomes necessary.

-Leila de Lima

Part II:


Freedom fighters

“I would rather be jailed in defense of what is right, than go to hell in the company of those responsible for our collective descent into impunity, fear, and inhumanity.�

-Leila de Lima


A Duty to Speak Out by Hon. Emily Lau

(Hon. Emily Lau, former member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, delivered this message of solidarity during the awarding of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom held at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018)

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a real honor to be here at this very important occasion and I bring with me greetings from the Hong Kong people. As you all know, there are many Filipinos working in Hong Kong. And the relationship between Hong Kong and the Philippines is very deep. But a few days ago, when I told my friends that I would be coming to Manila, they said, “What? Are you sure? Are you gonna be ok?” I said, “Yes, I will be ok.” And of course, I speak as someone who is still not allowed to travel to mainland China. I have been banned from traveling to mainland China for almost 3 decades. So I know what tyrants are like. But I insist on coming here when I first heard that there is ceremony. I immediately put up my hand. I said I’m coming. Thank you. Because last summer I came with two other members of the Wo-



men Caucus of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats to see the Senator. And we were fortunate enough to be allowed to go into the detention center and met her. And I asked her, I said, “Are you safe here?” She said, “No. Any time a death squad could come in and that would be it.” And of course all of our hearts dropped to the floor. And what has she done to deserve such treatment? In the Philippines, you used to have a reputation of fighting for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. How come in such a short time that reputation has been ruined? And somebody would say, what have you foreigners got to do it, why do you come here? I said, I don’t believe that people who go elsewhere to talk about human rights is interfering in other people’s business. Because that’s what Beijing said all the time. I said human rights transcend national boundaries and we all have a duty to speak out! So we are not…we are foreigners, we are not coming to interfere in your business. We are just coming to defend human rights. And when there are violations happening everywhere, I think we all should do it, isn’t it? But my dear friends, I also know this saying: The people get the government they deserve. There are many influential and powerful people in this room. I think your countrymen and countrywomen look to you to speak out too…because some of them are scared. And if everyone is scared, then the tyrants will always get things their way. Not just the Senator, but you, and you, and you! So my dear friends, I think it’s a time for reckoning. We all should understand the duty upon us not just to give the Senator justice and freedom, but to return it to the people of the Philippines! Good luck. Thank you.



Shining a Light on Threats to Freedom and Human Rights

by Dr. Juli Minoves, Liberal International President

(Liberal International (LI) President Dr. Juli Minoves delivered this message during the Prize for Freedom awarding held at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018)

The family of Senator Leila de Lima, Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines Mrs. Leni Robredo, President Aquino, Senator Drilon, Senator Pangilinan, Madam Deputy President, dear colleagues from CALD, excellencies, distinguished guests and colleagues, dear liberal friends, all: Liberal International is honored to return to the Philippines for the first time since our 57th Congress in 2011 only to present our foremost human rights award, the “Prize for Freedom”, to Liberal Party Senator Leila de Lima. The “Prize for Freedom” has been awarded annually since 1985. As of today, the Prize will have been awarded to two courageous Filipino



women, whom we are privileged to call liberals and who fought—indeed, in the case of Senator De Lima, continue to fight—unwaveringly for justice and liberty. President Corazon Aquino was the third-ever recipient of the LI Freedom Prize in 1987, as this beautiful country emerged from the yoke of a terrible dictatorship, the dictatorship of Mr. Marcos. Twenty-one years later, representatives of the global liberal family are in the Philippines to honor another human rights hero, although circumstances on this occasion do not give us cause to celebrate as we did in 1987. Instead, representatives of our global political family are here today to join hands with millions of Filipinos as we shine a light into what has become a shady political atmosphere and a subject of global consternation—some of the very threats to freedom that we warned of when defining the challenges to liberalism in the 21st century as set out in our Andorra Liberal Manifesto which we adopted in our 70th Anniversary Congress last year. So seriously do we perceive the incarceration, the unfair and the unjust incarceration of Senator Leila de Lima, who has not just been unjustly detained for 520 days—we don’t forget any single one of those days— that we have traveled to the Philippines from afar to present this award. For the first time in almost one decade, the “Prize for Freedom” is being awarded outside of Europe—in doing so, we are here to recognize the sacrifice of this remarkable prisoner of conscience. When I decided, together with the Deputy President to come to the Philippines for this award, I knew from the experience last year that I will not be allowed to see her. And in fact, some of our members from CALD requested a meeting with Senator De Lima formally and they were not allowed due to some “administrative excuse”, as usual. So yesterday, when she was in court, we decided to just go and see her in court, as is our right as public. And we were just behind Senator Leila de Lima. We were able to talk to her. And we said, “What can we do for you? What can we continue to do for you?” And she said: “Shine a spotlight for my safety.”



Because she’s not only in jail, in prison, she’s also in danger. In a country where there’s impunity, as she said, “Impunity once unleashed has no bounds. Anything can happen.” And also, I and my Deputy President were told, “You’re going to the Philippines? Be careful there.” When the Philippines, so admired in the world for having fought the dictatorship of Marcos, when has it lost this reputation that whenever we go to the Philippines, people ask you are you going to be safe? This is terrible. Also this morning, ladies and gentlemen, we had a meeting with the families of those who have been killed through the extrajudicial killings. You see, I’m a father of young children. I saw those kids, 1, 2 years old, 3 years old, 4 years old, with this [look in their] face that will never change because they have been hurt so badly by seeing the death of their parents in front of them without justice or anything. Is this really the way that we can fight crime in society? Ladies and gentlemen, let’s call it—as our Deputy President said—crimes against humanity. I was, in 1998, a representative of my country to the ICC conference in Rome. And I signed the Statute and actually, I wrote a little bit there in that conference in Rome for the International Criminal Court. I think this is a matter for the International Criminal Court—23,000 dead. This is inhuman. Senator De Lima’s struggle, her sacrifice, is not solely a Filipino matter, nor is it even an Asian matter. Leila’s cause transcends petty political rivalries and regional nuances; she personifies humanity’s shared aspiration for universal human rights and it is apposite that we are awarding Leila the Prize for Freedom in this 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in mind, I recall Eleanor Roosevelt’s unambiguous interpretation of human rights: And I quote: “Basic human rights are simple and easily understood”, she wrote, “freedom of speech and a free press; the right of human



beings to be secure in their homes… and free from unreasonable search and seizure and from arbitrary arrest and punishment. …We must not be deluded,” she said, “by the efforts of the forces of reaction to…confuse the struggle… We must not allow any nation to so change that human rights are made synonymous with suppression and dictatorship.” And I end the quote. It is precisely because of the global significance that Leila’s case represents, that in the days leading up to this award over 60 liberal politicians and human rights defenders from six regions of the world— from Africa, Asia, Europe, from the Middle East, from North and South America—felt moved to sign a statement calling for the immediate release of the Senator, a statement that we will let the Duterte regime know about. Also, on the proposal of our Liberal International Deputy President, Ms. Hakima el Haite—my successor in a few months—today we created a joint committee of Liberal International and the Liberal Party of the Philippines to analyze strategy for achieving the freedom of Senator Leila de Lima. After 23 years of awarding this “Prize for Freedom”, our position is straightforward: If you are a human rights defender, you are a liberal and liberals refuse to be indifferent. We believe in the rule of law, not rule by law and we refuse to be complicit in President Duterte’s callous assault on the human rights of mostly poor people across the Philippine archipelago. So we are here to remind the 16th President of the Philippines of three things in respect for the sovereignty of this beautiful country. Human rights are for all or they are for nothing. The world is indeed watching. And Leila de Lima’s unjust detention will not be forgotten. Friends, I would like to pay tribute to Leila de Lima. Of course, we deeply regret that the Senator is not able to be here with us in person. There’s her empty chair amongst friends and colleagues from around the world, and many Filipinos, courageous Filipinos who are here tonight, to accept this award. I would like to recognize Leila’s family, her colleagues, and her



party who have all found it in themselves the strength to persevere when many others have struggled and endured. I will end my words with a quote from the father of the Philippine Revolution, Andres Bonifacio. In the face of adversity, he wrote: “We must be united in will… This is the time for the light of truth to surface.” Senator Leila de Lima, you receive this prize for speaking truth to power. Thank you very much.

The Indomitable Spirit of a Freedom Fighter by Vice President Leni Robredo

(Vice President Leni Robredo delivered this inspirational message for the awarding ceremony of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom held at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018)

Former President Benigno Aquino III; Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon; our president—the President of the Liberal Party of the Philippines—Senator Kiko Pangilinan; members of the House of Representatives who are present; local government officials who are present;



former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and the other former national government officials who are present; Mr. Wolfgang Heinze, Country Director of FNF; of course our distinguished guests from Liberal International, led by Mr. Juli Minoves; other international organizations who are represented here this evening; members of the family of Senator Leila de Lima; my fellow workers in government; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen: Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat! First of all, thank you to Liberal International for inviting me to this momentous occasion, as we celebrate the life and the work of one our country’s strongest and passionate defenders of human rights: Senator Leila de Lima. You know, Senator Leila and I come from the same province—we share a home province—but it was her father who I knew of personally for the longest time, because he was a very good friend of my father. The first time I met Sen. Leila was, ironically, during the wake of her dad. By some stroke of luck—not of luck, but of fate— I lost my husband to a plane crash two weeks after her dad was interred. My friendship with Sen. Leila actually blossomed after I lost my husband already. She was with my husband in President Aquino’s Cabinet at the time. And we became quite close during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. And the few times I visited her in Camp Crame, again, ironically, were happy occasions—it would always be littered with laughter from start to finish. Those of you who know Senator Leila well, alam niyo pilya siya, ‘di ba? She has introduced me to her newfound friends, the stray cats that Senator Kiko was telling us about. But this recognition, alongside many notable citations and awards that Senator Leila has received in the recent times, is testament to her fearlessness and indomitable spirit as a freedom fighter. It proves that fighting for what you know is right and just—no matter where you are and who you are up against—matters deeply in healing our nation’s shattered spirits and hopes. And that fighting for human rights has become one of the most important struggles of today’s world, affecting with increasing urgency, the everyday lives of our people. The magnitude of this struggle can be seen in how our beloved nation, one of the earliest cradles of democracy in Asia, with citizens who are willing to die to protect freedom, are now waking up to a whole new value system. Slowly, we see that people are willing to give up the idea



of inviolable basic human rights for all, in the name of so-called security, safety, and even convenience. Some people ask in their moments of self-reflection, and in much pain: What happened to us? And where is our nation going now? Because after decades of demonstrating leadership when it comes to human rights, we now realize that in the Philippines today, the way Filipinos understand human rights is still largely dependent on the actions of the powerful. No wonder that many Filipinos remain powerless. During the State of the Nation Address early this week, we heard the idea that human rights is not about human lives—as Mr. Vicboy was telling us a while ago. But we all know that even the most casual student of human rights will recognize this statement for what it is: a false and misleading dichotomy. The fact that such a blatant untruth has sparked a debate is further proof that even in a nation with a much-vaunted “human rights Constitution,” much remains to be done in creating a deeper awareness and appreciation of human rights among our people. It is apparent to anyone who wishes to see clearly, that the right to life is one of the most basic human rights. We fight for human rights precisely because we value human lives. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “every human being has a right to life, liberty and security of person.” Even in our Bill of Rights under the 1987 Constitution, it states, and I quote: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” Close quote. Our right to live is enshrined in the law, and this is the anchor of the entire framework of human rights. The right to life, along with all other rights—to food, to shelter, to education, to healthcare—are indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated. They come as a whole package, and cannot be granted in part and denied in others. We must make our people further understand that every human being is entitled to these rights, and that fulfilling the rights of some, at the cost of stripping away the rights of others, is precisely the injustice that the concept of human rights was established to correct. These are extraordinary times, and there is a danger that we may lose



our way as we are pulled in different directions. Let us focus on asking ourselves more deeply: How could we allow these injustices to happen, and when do we begin holding people accountable for their actions? It is time to speak up and work as one. The more we do, the more we are able to make the fight for human rights relevant. The real work begins by making our voices heard. When we allow the din of discordant voices to drown our message, we achieve nothing. Remember when a whole community of those who put value in human rights and rule of law spoke truth to power when the proposed 2018 budget for the Commission on Human Rights was reduced to a laughable 1,000 pesos for the entire year? The pushback resulted in a restoration of the CHR budget. That was a very clear victory for us. But now, beyond speaking truth to power, we must speak truth to the heart of every Filipino. We cannot do this by expecting the man or woman on the street to understand the language of those who have been studying and fighting for human rights for so long. We must use their language. We must see where they are coming from. We must feel their fears and their anger. We must understand their struggles. And we must all speak with one voice. I have personally talked to many families of victims of extrajudicial killings, who have come to our office to ask for assistance in seeking justice for their loved ones. Some wrote letters, detailing how their innocent children, their spouses, their siblings, died at the hands of unidentified killers, because they were tagged as drug personalities. Some who have undergone trauma therapy with church organizations have performed a heartbreaking play, reenacting the painful deaths of their loved ones. These widowed mothers and orphaned children showed us one important thing: the power of our message is measured not by how loud our voices are, but by the empathy that it brings. By the connections that it creates. By bringing solutions that go to the real crux of the problem: poverty, inequality, lawlessness. There must be a practicality in our approach, to ensure that human rights does not remain a vague, academic idea to our people. It is their protector against tyranny; it ensures their voices are heard; it lays out a life where they eat three meals a day and are able to send their children to school. Because these difficulties,



right this very moment, are causing much tears and frustration among our people. So many lives are on the line in this battlefield. In the past two years, we faced the reality that death and violence have become the preferred means with which to wage the war on illegal drugs—with no end in sight. The numbers have been contentious, from 3,000 to 25,000, but the reality is that one death is already far too many. I have not seen fear this heavy, not through all the years I have worked as a public interest lawyer among the poorest, most marginalized communities of our society. For more than a decade, I saw with my own eyes how the law can sometimes be used as an instrument of injustice, against the poor and marginalized who have no knowledge of how the judicial system works. We have much to learn from them—the farmers and the fisherfolk, the urban poor and the laborers, the abused women and children, the indigenous peoples and differently-abled individuals. Going to their far-flung communities to teach them their rights under the law so that they could acquire the capacity to assert their rights for themselves, translating legal documents into their local language and giving them paralegal training, the biggest lesson I learned was empathy—the ability not just to feel sympathy, but a deeper emotion that pulls we into acting with urgency in behalf of the people we engage. And this is why I still feel hopeful about our future. Filipinos are naturally empathic people, with a depth of love for freedom and their rights that will not be snuffed out by any tyrant. We have had a long history of bloody struggles in very dark times, and I refuse to believe that we suffered them for nothing. We will prevail. We will keep on keeping on. Celebrated writer Khalil Gibran once wrote, and I could not help but share with you this quote: “You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care, nor your nights without a want and a grief, but rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.” As we ponder our way forward, we find inspiration and drive in the example of Senator Leila, who has never faltered, despite and in spite of the shackles her enemies tried to place on her spirit. She faces obstacles and difficulties that would make stronger men shudder, yet Senator Leila is not constrained and limited by them. She draws strength from her ordeal and finds ways to give voice to the people’s cries, prison and



all. We are very proud to have her among us, and to know her for the work that she does. She could not have put it better when she said, and I quote: “No matter how influential and powerful those who violate our dignity and human rights are, our strong will and determination will always prevail; truth and justice will always succeed.� More than anything, these are the things that bind us together as advocates and as defenders of the law. This depth in character and principle, no matter the circumstance, is what we need most now as advocates and defenders of human rights. We are called on to be more creative and more innovative in our leadership; to continue pushing back against those determined to peddle the fiction that our individual well-being can only come by stripping away the lives and dignity of others. For us who are here tonight, it is clear: We call ourselves defenders of human rights, and we align ourselves with those who are the same. For Senator Leila, that fight has also been clear as day, that even in detention, she has shaken ground and inspired fellow advocates of the law, here and abroad. We all have roles to play, and it is important that we know where we are placed and what we should do to win. Thank you very much to Liberal International, and congratulations again to Senator Leila and her family, for this worthy recognition. Mabuhay po kayong lahat!


Part III:


standing by my innocence “They know I’m innocent. And that’s all that matters to me— people believing in me, strongly standing by and with me, keeping the faith...”

-Leila de Lima


Beyond hyperbole by Solita Collas-Monsod

(An opinion piece published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on September 30, 2017) A lot of people argue about what President Duterte’s biggest lie is. Of course, there is a terminology problem here. His subordinates don’t call it a lie, but a tendency toward hyperbole, which is defined as an exaggerated statement or a claim not meant to be taken literally. Okay. What then do you think is his biggest hyperbolic statement, Reader? My candidate is his statement (during his first State of the Nation Address) that he is not vindictive. A close second, or actually at the same level of outrageousness, is his repeated assertion that he faithfully observes the rule of law. And the best example that this is beyond hyperbole is right before our eyes: Sen. Leila de Lima. Leila got into “trouble” with Du30 because she had the effrontery to go to Davao City, when she was chair of the Commission on Human Rights, to investigate the Davao Death Squad that was allegedly responsible for about 1,400 extrajudicial killings, and that came to be during Du30’s stint as mayor. It was then that the Du30 “get Leila” campaign must have started, and was fueled by her decision, as a sitting senator, to investigate the extrajudicial killings. In the first five months of his presidency, Du30 publicly insulted/excoriated the senator on at least 22 occasions (or once a week), pronouncing her guilty of complicity in the trade in illegal drugs in the country, accusing her of immorality, and even saying, “I will have to destroy her in public.” His vindictiveness was contagious, and contaminated his justice secretary, who appeared in the House and, in violation of the rules on committee hearings, was the one who presented the witnesses against Leila and directed questions at them. These witnesses were all convicts incarcerated in Muntinlupa, most of them with life sentences, guilty of murder, or kidnapping, or robbery, etc. Let me narrate some of the violations of the “rule of law” that surrounded the present incarceration of Leila (217 days now, or 7 months).



The warrant for her arrest was signed by a judge who, I am told, had no jurisdiction over the case, because based on the information presented by the prosecutors (from the Department of Justice, naturally), the case should have been handled by the Sandiganbayan, and investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman. She got away with it. Would you believe that Senator De Lima was charged, and arrested, and is in detention now, for the wrong crime? The members of the DOJ panel charged her with illegal drug trading. But that required evidence in the form of the illegal drugs traded, and some knowledge of where she sold it, and who bought it. Not having any of that, they changed it to conspiracy to drug trading, but that is apparently against due process: The charges cannot be changed in midstream. But they got away with it. Almost all the witnesses are criminals convicted by final judgment of crimes involving moral turpitude, and thus are not qualified to testify as state witnesses. But they got away with it. And continue to get away with it, until the Supreme Court rules on Leila’s complaints (she went to the high court in April, but no decision yet). What is taking the high court so long? Is there pressure from Malacañang? More vindictiveness? Not content with putting her in detention, with the incredulous charges and witnesses, the vindictiveness and rule of law violations continue during her incarceration. This column has described that she is not allowed the use of a cell phone, or a computer, or a radio, or a TV set, much less an air-conditioner. Remember, Reader, she is incarcerated because the charges against her are not bailable. Aside from that, many visitors, especially foreigners, have not been allowed to see her. Parliamentarians, human rights advocates, etc. No stated reason. The latest sign of vindictiveness: All the materials that go to her are subject to “reasonable censorship,” including Senate and even confidential lawyer-client materials. What has she done to deserve this? Remember, Reader, if it can be done to her, it can be done to any of us.



Justice for Leila is justice for all by John Nery

(An opinion piece published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on October 3, 2017) On Aug. 21 last year, waxing expansive in the wee hours, President Duterte shared the secret to his work as a city fiscal. “I learned a lot during my prosecution days. We planted evidence,” he said. “We arrested persons but we released them. But (switching to an example) telling him that it was this person who squealed on him and then when he goes out but killing, we would say it was this fellow who really did it, who did you in.” It is important to note that the President was volunteering this information in a late-night-into-early-morning news conference he had called. The reason, he suggested, for what we must call out as an illegal tactic was practicality. “We first planted the intrigues, so that we would know where they were or where they came from.” Now, as President, he has leveled up. The entire prosecution service and the Office of the Solicitor General can now engineer a patently illegal maneuver to ensure the indefinite detention of a political adversary. He has made no secret of his belief that Sen. Leila de Lima deserves to be in jail, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Solicitor General Jose Calida have obliged him. Word is going around that the Supreme Court is ready to vote on the urgent petition De Lima filed last April against Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Juanita Guerrero, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa, and several others. Ordinary citizens should pay close attention to this case, because at stake is the struggle between the rule of law and the “law” of practicality. At least four legal issues are at the heart of De Lima’s pending case, but to a concerned citizen like me, the most basic is fundamental, indeed. The government cannot change its mind about the nature of the crime it alleges against a citizen, without giving the accused a chance to defend herself anew. This just isn’t done. Unfortunately, under the first lawyer-president since Ferdinand Marcos, this “lawlessness,” this “whatever works approach,” this “unbounded opportunism” is rule rather



than exception. (The quotations are from De Lima’s petition.) It is in fact a matter of public record that De Lima was accused of trading in and profiting from illegal drugs; the entire rigmarole at the House of Representatives was designed to make this case in the court of public opinion. (I must note that it initially succeeded.) The Department of Justice subsequently charged her with this violation. But not a single gram of the illegal drugs she was supposed to have traded in or profited from could be produced. This lack of what is called the corpus delicti led the Office of the Solicitor General to argue that De Lima violated, not Section 5 of the anti-drugs law, but Section 26: conspiracy to commit trading in illegal drugs. De Lima’s petition notes that this drops “the charge of consummated trading in dangerous drugs penalized under Section 5, and unceremoniously supplanting it with the supposed offense of conspiracy to commit trading in dangerous drugs, an offense for which no one has ever been charged.” The DOJ then adopted the OSG’s position, and in oral arguments Calida admitted that the government now considered De Lima inviolation of Section 26, not the Section 5 that she was charged with officially. In a word, De Lima is in detention for the wrong crime — deliberately put in a maze of cement walls and barbed wire by the government’s chief lawyer, no less, with the consent of the justice secretary himself. This is not a mere technicality (“the difference between provisions doesn’t really matter, as long as she is in jail”) but a travesty (“she was accused of one thing, but is detained for another”). De Lima, through her counsel, belabors the obvious: “The government’s unbounded opportunism towards the accusations against Petitioner can only mean that these charges are fake.” And on this fakery the executive branch jerrybuilt a case to deny a senator of the Republic elementary justice. Like many others, I’ve visited with De Lima; like many others, I stand with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno; like many others, I will defend Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ undoubted integrity. They and others like them make the rule of law possible; Calida and Aguirre, and Mr. Duterte, make the rule of law necessary.



Abnormal evolution of justice by Vergel Santos

(An opinion piece published by Rappler on October 14, 2017) The case against Senator Leila de Lima is an abnormal one – abnormal in the way it was put together, abnormal in the way it’s been proceeding: It was initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte, it was cooked in his Congress, and it’s now being prosecuted by his solicitor general in an ordinary court, not by the tenured, thus presumed more independent, Ombudsman in the court precisely designated to try state officials – the Sandiganbayan. Thus, the case assumes political color, and makes De Lima a political detainee, although, again, not in the normal sense of one fighting for an opposite ideology but, rather, in the simple and expedient sense of one from a rival political camp. Duterte himself shows no ideological conviction. He seems more like a floating ideologue, if there’s such an insect: he flies around a whole garden of ideologies clueless. Ideology is a system of political and economic thought that chooses a particular character in a particular environment in whom to incubate, and conviction is well-informed steadfastness. Simpleminded, impulsive, and stubborn, Rodrigo Duterte is just all wrong for both. Before becoming president, Duterte had been a provincial-city mayor for more than two decades. If that length of time afforded him sufficient experience in leadership, it was in leadership by authoritarianism, which is no ideology; it is, in fact, a crime – a crime against a whole democratic constituency. Indeed, he has carried over his authoritarian habits into the presidency, and now threatens a whole nation. There’s little doubt he strong-armed De Lima into jail. She went in, without the benefit of bail, on a charge of conspiracy to sell illegal drugs on the 8th month of his presidency. The supposedly solid evidence presented against her consisted mostly of testimonies of life-term convicts herded by Duterte’s justice secretary, himself the penitentiary’s chief bastonero; there was no money, no drugs, nothing concrete, let alone solid. State lawyers quibble that the charge is not selling illegal drugs per se,



but conspiracy to sell them, as if, in that case, the standards of judicial appreciation change as to what constitutes prima facie evidence. Certain antecedents should contribute to a more complete and credible picture than the state presents. When De Lima was chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Duterte was mayor, she began to investigate him for death-squad murders in his city, and he threatened to get back at her. They both won in the national elections of May 2016 and assumed office the following July, she as senator, he as president, and the conflict went on. At a hearing of De Lima’s Senate committee on justice and human rights in September last year, a confessed assassin for Duterte, Edgar Matobato, admitted taking part in some 50 summary executions and testified that Duterte himself had 8 kills by his own hand (Duterte would later own to 3). Matobato also told of a plot on De Lima’s life when she came to Davao City for her commission’s inquiry; a change of route frustrated it. Matobato’s testimony cost De Lima the chairmanship of the committee in a vote forced by the majority. It also provoked, in both houses of Duterte’s sycophantic Congress, public hearings featuring a choir of convicts chanting against De Lima. She was hauled to jail 5 months later. In the meantime, despite all efforts at damage control for Duterte, another confessed hitman for Duterte, Arturo Lascañas, managed to get his own story out, first in a press conference, then in a single appearance conceded by the Senate. Lascañas, a newly retired police officer, corroborated Matobato’s testimony, then followed him into hiding. Desperate hopes for De Lima were pinned on the Supreme Court. This week it dashed them, rejecting, 9 votes to 6, De Lima’s petition for the case to be quashed and for her to be set free. The ruling was no surprise, really. Again, antecedents are instructive. Previous significant Supreme Court decisions in Duterte’s presidency also pleased him: exempting Juan Ponce Enrile from the rule denying bail to anyone accused of plunder; acquitting former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also of plunder; and approving a hero’s burial for Duterte’s professed idol, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Enrile, Arroyo,



and Marcos’ heirs are all Duterte allies now. Each case betrayed a voting pattern that lumped together Arroyoappointed justices who constituted the majority. In De Lima’s case, the 9 consisted of holdovers from that majority and new Duterte appointees. Such is the abnormal evolution of justice in the Duterte presidency.

Senator De Lima’s struggle vs institutional bombardment by Mel Sta. Maria

(An opinion piece published by Interaksyon on October 15, 2017) Why is the case of Senator Leila De Lima such an extraordinary case? It is because, in a little over one year from the assumption of the Duterte administration, no less than the three great branches of government have converged to pin her down and, to some observers, bully or persecute her. This is unprecedented. We saw how the Executive department gathered the felons and the convicted drug lords to testify against her. Then we witnessed many in Congress totally besmirch her dignity using these convicted felons/drug lords. Finally, the majority of the Supreme Court justices — Velasco, De Castro, Bersamin, Peralta, Tijam, Martirez, Segismundo, Del Castillo, Reyes — allowed her incarceration. Significantly, Justices Velasco, De Castro, Bersamin, Peralta and Del Castillo were among the justices who previously voted in favor of the Marcos Burial and Martial Law espoused by President Duterte. Justices Tijam, Martirez, Segismundo, and Reyes, on the other hand, are President Duterte’s new appointees. Reading the dissenting opinions of Justices Carpio, Caguioa, Leonen, Sereno, Bernabe and Jardeleza, I shudder at how the majority of the justices can be so depthless. They preferred dealing with technicalities justifying the authority of the wrong court assuming jurisdiction over



the case on the basis of a flawed information. Justice Benjamin Caquioa’s stinging dissent said it all: “When the very rights guaranteed to an accused by our Constitution are disregarded and the rules of procedures are accorded precedence, that is abhorrent and preposterous. That is plain and simple injustice.” And this resulted in the most abominable situation of all: the wrong court, the Regional Trial Court, assuming jurisdiction, of a case which was within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. The warrant of arrest against Secretary de Lima was therefore void. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and also Justice Francis Jardeleza were of the same opinion. Worse was what Justice Antonio Carpio pointed out. He severely criticized the majority, saying that in so doing, the Supreme Court countenanced a “fake charge” which was “blatantly a pure invention.” He further said that it is “one of the grossest injustices ever perpetuated in recent memory in full view of the Filipino nation and the entire world.” Another dissenter, Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, said simply but decisively that the charges were “a sham.” Justice Leonen described the decision of the majority as “disturbing” because “it unsettles established doctrine, misapplies unrelated canons, and most importantly fails to render a good judgment: law deployed with sound reasons taking the full context of the case as presented.” Courage in SC during Marcos dictatorship I cannot help but compare the kind of Supreme Court we have now with the Supreme Court during the latter days of the Marcos dictatorship. Though appointed by the dictator Marcos, a number of the then SC justices had the courage and the brilliance not to go with the tide of brute power and influence of the executive. When the late former senator Jovito Salonga was framed by the government as having conspired in the bombing activities of certain disgruntled people violently against Martial Law, witnesses were presented against Senator Salonga. They included an ambassador, a consul general, the Presidential Security Command chief and also the alleged bomber. The judge denied motions of Salonga’s lawyers for the dismissal of the trumped-up charges against him. Former Senator Jovito Salonga went to the Supreme Court. In Salonga vs. Paño et al (G.R. No. 59524 February 18, 1985), the Supreme



Court, through then Associate Justice Hugo Gutierrez, castigated the government for incriminating Senator Salonga, for gross violation of his constitutional rights, and for indicting him on the basis of evidence not credible both as to source and of themselves. Sensing that the case was about to be decided negatively against it, the Executive department ordered the release of Senator Salonga to render the Supreme Court case moot and academic. However, while the Supreme Court indeed ruled that the case became moot and academic, it nevertheless pounded on the total injustice of the whole case against Senator Salonga. It extraordinarily released the full decision with a complete explanation of governmental abuse of power. The Supreme Court said: “It bears repeating that the judiciary lives up to its mission by vitalizing and not denigrating constitutional rights. So it has been before. It should continue to be so.” Except for three justices who did not take part, all the magistrates then led by the ponente Associate Justice Hugo Gutierrez, signed the decision. Can we say the same today of at least majority members of the present Supreme Court? Now, what are we witnessing: three great branches of government: the EXECUTIVE, the LEGISLATIVE, and the JUDICIARY against one woman. Nothing is more extraordinary. It takes a person of great fortitude to withstand the onslaught of such institutional bombardment and to continue to fight for reason and justice against all odds.

A disturbing, unsettling decision by Tony La Viña

(An opinion piece published by the Manila Standard on October 17, 2017) Together with Senior Justice Antonio Carpio, Justice Marvic Leonen registered his strong dissent to the majority opinion on the case of Senator Leila de Lima. He states that while he is not surprised by the majority vote, he nonetheless finds disturbing the unsettling of established doctrines, the misapplication of unrelated canons and failure of the majority to render a good judgment. He argues that based on extant law and case law, the Sandiganbayan, not the respondent Regional Trial Court, has jurisdiction over the offense



as charged in the Information. According to Leonen, the information alleged acts of petitioner during her tenure as Secretary of the Department of Justice. The acts she alleged to have committed are in relation to her office. Jurisdiction over crimes committed by a Secretary of Justice in relation to his or her office is explicit, unambiguous and specifically granted to the Sandiganbayan by law contrary to the majority who relied on Section 90 of Republic Act No. 9165 which only authorizes the Supreme Court to designate among Regional Trial Courts special courts for drug offenses. None of these provisions explicitly states that only the Regional Trial Court has exclusive and original jurisdiction over drug offenses. It merely implies that the Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the drug offenses. Further, Leonen also opines that the issuance of the Warrant of Arrest was unconstitutional because the Respondent Regional Trial Court Judge Juanita Guerrero did not conduct the required personal examination of the witnesses and other pieces of evidence against the accused to determine probable cause. She only examined the documents presented by the prosecution which is not enough considering (a) the crime charged was not clear, (b) the prosecution relied on convicted prisoners; and (c) the sworn statements of the convicted prisoners did not appear to harmonize with each other. To Leonen, the charge of “Conspiracy to Commit Illegal Drug Trading� is nonexistent. He points out that illegal trading, for which petitioner is being charged, does not only require the identities of the buyer and seller but also requires the identity of the broker and the essential element in all violations of Republic Act No. 9165 is the dangerous drug itself. The failure to identify the corpus delicti in the Information would render it defective. As a result of the lack of jurisdiction, the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in determining probable cause and in issuing the warrant of arrest. On this point he explains that the complexity of this case should have led respondent judge to actually conduct a physical hearing, call the witnesses, and ask probing questions. After all, even Justices of this Court were left bewildered by what was charged, leaving this Court divided between Direct Bribery, Illegal Trading, or even Illegal Trafficking. Moreover, he adds, assuming that the RTC had jurisdiction over the



offense charged in the Information and that the judge properly went through the preliminary investigation, still, the evidence presented by the prosecution does not actually prove that there was probable cause to charge petitioner with conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading or illegal drug trading. The testimonies of the convicts of the New Bilibid Prison who have not personally appeared before the Department of Justice but were merely presented to the House of Representatives during a hearing in aid of legislation were fraught with inconsistencies. Moreover, the vindictive and oppressive manner by which petitioner was singled out and swiftly taken into custody is an exceptional circumstance that should have placed the courts on guard that a possible miscarriage of justice may occur. According to Leonen, it is clear by their actuations and pronouncements that the President, the Secretary of Justice, and the Solicitor General were already convinced that petitioner should be prosecuted even before a preliminary investigation could be conducted. Leonen also digresses from the opinion by the majority in that he believes petitioner did not violate the rule on forum shopping since a question of lack of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceeding. To support his argument he stresses that because of the novelty of the issue presented, a direct recourse to this Court despite the pendency of the same action in the trial court should be allowed. As to petitioner’s lack of signature in the verification, Leonen has this to say: No one is questioning petitioner’s identification or signature in the Petition. No one alleges that she falsified her signature in the Petition or that the notary public was unauthorized to notarize the Petition. The evil sought to be prevented by the defective verification, therefore, is not present in this case. Finally, Leonen makes an impassioned appeal for justice, asking the Court not to waver when rights are clearly violated. It is from the courage of the Court’s position and the clarity in our (the Court’s) words that empowers our people to find their voice even in the most hostile of environments. The De Lima decision is disturbing, unsettling. But I am still hopeful the Court would find its way and reverse it on motion for reconsideration.




by Candy Cruz Datu

(A blog entry in Cham Clowder, published on December 12, 2017) I FIRST MET Leila when I was in high school. She was one of my Dad’s students in the San Beda College of Law and I occasionally proctored her class. Daddy’s students then knew him as Dean Isagani A. Cruz – constitutionalist, political law expert, lawbook author, tough mentor – “terror.” To excel in his classes was a monumental feat; to be esteemed by him was the holy grail. Leila managed both. SUPREME COURT She graduated as her class salutatorian and placed 8th in the 1985 bar examinations, which were then held in November. It was providential timing, for when Daddy was appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on April 16, 1986, freshly-minted Atty. de Lima was eligible for recruitment. Daddy selected the crème de la crème for his staff because he needed help. Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee had asked one favor of his colleagues when they began: to clear the 6,000-case Marcos backlog by the time of his retirement. They were happy to oblige, but it was a gargantuan task. I vividly recall how hard my Dad worked on his caseload. He depended on his legal clerks for cogent memoranda and expected them to defend these with conviction. He did not have time for vacillators. I graduated from university in 1988 and worked alongside my Dad as his assistant. It was my job to review his ponencias for stylistic and substantive flaws before they were finalized. I rarely found any, but I received an education in constitutional law simply by going over his work. My office was adjacent to his chambers and we left the communicating door open as a rule. It was my secret pleasure to eavesdrop on his animated discussions with his clerks; he relied on them heavily, more on some than on others, and among those few was Leila. She gave back as good as she got. CJ Teehankee retired in 1989 and left the Supreme Court with clear dockets. At that time, Leila also resigned to enter private practice. Daddy encouraged her with paternal good grace; but to us at home he



expressed great regret over losing one of his most talented clerks. Daddy’s staff inevitably changed over the 8 and a half years he sat on the Bench, but they remained close and kept in touch even after they had moved on. They were all there when he retired on October 11, 1994. It was for us a bittersweet farewell made somewhat less poignant by the presence of our Supreme Court family.

Justice Isagani A. Cruz in 1986 with his administrative and some legal staff. Leila is in the foreground, second from right. (photo: ©Candy Cruz Datu)

DENIAL OF RIGHTS I lost track of Leila de Lima for a few years as she immersed herself in election law, and only caught sight of her again when, as chair of the Commission on Human Rights, she investigated the Maguindanao Massacre. I followed her from a distance throughout her career as Secretary of Justice during the Aquino Administration and felt a secret pride in her success, knowing that Daddy had a hand in molding it. I wasn’t surprised that she won a Senate seat and that she immediately began investigating the extrajudicial killings which in December 2016 already numbered more than 4,000. Her dauntless, relentless



challenges to Rodrigo Duterte would take their toll, I feared; and indeed, he had her arrested within 7 months of his rule.

Justice Isagani A. Cruz on his retirement day, surrounded by his legal staff over 8 and a half years and some family members. Leila is standing directly behind Justice Cruz. (photo: ©Candy Cruz Datu)

I never believed any of the charges made against her for the mere reason that I know Leila. I observed her formative years as a lawyer under my Dad’s tutelage. I assure you, Justice Cruz did not suffer hypocrites, nor the mediocre, nor the morally infirm. Her passion for justice matched his, and I suspect that his partiality for libertarian principles tutored her own commitment to human rights. Her career is prima facie evidence of this. To say otherwise is to be ridiculous. I went to visit her at Camp Crame on Human Rights Day. I was apprehensive because I hadn’t seen her in 23 years; yet she had sent me a grateful note for something I’d written in support of her, and it seemed to blow the years away. When we met and after that initial hug, it was just like old times. I have been following her cases and know them well; but to hear her describe them made me tear up, not with sentiment, but in anger. Anyone with basic intelligence will grasp the guarantees in the Bill of



Rights, including the rights of the accused. Leila’s rights have been quite systematically trampled on by individuals professing – pretending! – to be officers of the law. The glaring fact that the prosecution has repeatedly amended – no, actually it has substituted – the charges means that the government had no clear case to begin with. This is why no arraignment has yet taken place, and also why Leila will be spending the holidays in detention. It is a legal truism that when the prosecution delays a case, it is because it has no case. With these constant changes, Leila is being denied her right as an accused to be properly informed of the charges against her so as to adequately prepare her defense. Section 12 of the Bill of Rights provides that “No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.” It seems, however, that Leila is being pushed into increasing isolation. She is not allowed any electronic devices, not even a TV to watch recorded movies on or a radio or MP3 player to listen to music with. She is only permitted printed materials; thankfully she is supplied 2 newspapers a day. Her visitors are meticulously vetted, with no room for minor adjustments should some error occur in the visit application, which must be submitted 10 days in advance. Her foreign guests, including those among them who are her true friends, have not been permitted to see her. On days when she has no callers, she is required to stay in her compound which is separate from the rest of the detention quarters. She is alone there. To ease her loneliness, she has rescued a cat and two kittens who have won her heart. Her room is not large, and has what she describes as “a small window” for ventilation. She says it was very hot during the summer; she requested to have an air conditioner but she was denied. On her last few trips to the RTC, she was hustled roughly from the vehicle to the sala, with no space for the media to interview her, as before. They were kept at a distance and even barred from Leila as her police phalanx pushed and pulled her so that she even stumbled at one point. This video shows it clearly: Leila is assured by Sec. 14 (2) of the Bill of Rights of the presumption



of innocence until the contrary is proved. Yet Harry Roque, presidential spokesperson and so-called human rights defender, recently stated: “We should no longer give credence to anything that comes from Senator Leila de Lima as this is from a polluted source, who was accused of drug trafficking by at least 13 witnesses.” This policy of vilification is presumably sanctified instead of sanctioned by the Palace, seeing as the spokesperson himself publicly condemns her. What everyone should understand is that Leila has not been convicted. Her guilt has not been legally proven. The charges against her have not been properly outlined. For goodness’ sake, she has not even been arraigned. And yet she is treated this way. Thinking citizens of this Republic are alarmed by these infractions of the Bill of Rights. Responsible Filipinos know that the guarantees deprived a sitting senator like Leila can be denied any of us. Because she is at risk, we all are. She is committed to fighting the good fight for her sake and ours. The least we can do is join her.


Distinguished guests flash De Lima’s signature handsign during the awarding of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom to the Senator, held at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018. (CALD)

Hosts Leah Navarro and Erin TaĂąada stand beside Sparrow Music, a musical group composed of children who hail from Payatas, during the awarding of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018. (CALD)

Israel, Senator Leila de Lima’s eldest son whom she considers her angel, receives on her mother’s behalf the Prize for Freedom from Liberal International President Dr. Juli Minoves at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018. (CALD)

Family members, distinguished guests and international delegates flash De Lima’s signature handsign during the awarding of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018. (CALD)

De Lima’s 2018 Prize for Freedom award is kept at her Senate office where her vacant chair is draped with her trademark blue shawl to signify that her work continues despite her unjust detention. ( July 2018)

Distinguished guests sing “Bayan Ko” during the formal awarding of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom to Senator De Lima at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018. (OVP)

Vice President Leni Robredo, former President Benigno S. Aquino III, and delegates from the Liberal International (LI) and Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) celebrate the awarding of Prize for Freedom to Senator De Lima for her unwavering fight to defend human rights. (OVP)

Former President Benigno S. Aquino III vouches for De Lima’s innocence, telling reporters at the sidelines of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom awarding at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018 that he trusts that the truth will come out to vindicate the detained Senator. (CALD)

De Lima flashes her signature handsign to her supporters as she exits the Quezon City Hall of Justice after attending her disobedience to summons case. (September 2017)

De Lima climbs onboard the police coaster which will take her back to Camp Crame after appearing before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 where her trumped-up charges on illegal drug trade are being heard. (December 2017)

De Lima arrives at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court for the hearing on her furlough request to attend her son’s law school graduation which was eventually denied. (May 2018)

De Lima’s eldest son, Israel (middle), receives the “Ignite for Human Rights” trophy and plaque on behalf of his mother, who was recognized by Amnesty International (AI) as the “Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender” for 2018. (AI, June 2018)

Under heavy police guard, De Lima arrives at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice with friends and supporters rallying behind her. ( June 2018)

De Lima emerges from the police coaster to attend a court hearing in Quezon City, flashing her “D5� handsign to underscore her innocence from all the trumped-up cases filed against her. ( June 2018)

De Lima attends her arraignment, 17 months since her politically-motivated arrest, refusing to enter a plea because she does not recognize the “legitimacy and validity� of the drug-related charges she maintains are fake and are based on manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies of convicted inmates. ( July 2018)

De Lima’s police escorts form a tight circle around her as she attends the resumption of her disobedience to summons case at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 34. (August 2018)


Dear President Duterte, about Sen. Leila de Lima… by Wilfredo Villanueva

(A blog entry in The Society of Honor, published on February 5, 2018)

Sen. Leila de Lima with guards: Her hands are held down to keep her from waving to supporters.

Dear President Duterte, It’s about time a Filipino wrote you directly about a topic that requires a great deal of love and wisdom to thresh out. This is it, man-to-man, for a woman is in distress, and it is un-Filipino not to lend her a hand. I’ve just been to Camp Crame custodial center to interview Senator Leila de Lima. She has shrunk. Not in a negative way, but in a metaphysical way. She is closer to God. She knows she has to diminish so that God will increase in her. That statement alone should send shivers up the spine of any adversary. She used to take to prayer in a roundabout way when she was busy with statecraft, like a flash of remembrance, but now, no more. Prayer has become her number one activity, for what is an imprisoned person to do except to look up and reconcile herself to her



Creator who can see everything, has answers to everything? She has become stronger by prayer and reflection alone. Who would dare cross paths with such a person? She was her bubbly self the last time I saw her five months ago. Now, she has a pained expression, like a visibly sick person trying to assuage the fears of her visitors who worry for her. Oh, don’t worry about me, I will survive this, she insists, but it takes an extra push from her now, like a car with a weak battery. But make no mistake, I’m not worried. I know she will survive this. But will you survive this? She will have spent a year in detention come February 24th. She has learned a lot in communing with herself, but pray tell, Mr. President, what have you learned a year hence upon mak- ing it a state policy to go after your enemies with extreme prejudice? Every day that passes that she is under lock and key increases her, and diminishes you, Sir. Make no mistake about it: the Filipino just loves the underdog, and you have made her one. Think Ninoy Aquino, Alone, but not alone. think noise barrage Marcos time, think hordes descending on the open casket in Sto. Domingo church, the tsunami of humanity bringing a hero to rest, the weekly confetti rain on Ayala avenue, shouts of Marcos Resign. The energy at that time was so palpable, you could slice it and serve it to as many people who would love to be a part of the heaving throng. It cycles and recycles, a wheel that doesn’t stop turning because it has acquired momentum, a life of its own. Think you can handle this kind of intrusion into your power, Mr. President? How can you lead an already fractious nation spiked by a rising anger for the incarceration of a Mary Magdalene who has dedicated herself to God after tribulation?



I asked her why can’t she just escape or seek political asylum. Do you know what she said? When she was in Washington, D.C. December of 2016, she learned about the impending criminal charges and arrest, and had a door opened for her for that recourse. She didn’t take it, wouldn’t have none of it. Why, I pressed. “Because this is my country, it’s the only one I’ve got. With the truth on my side, I fear no one,” she said, her voice rising a bit like the sharp edge of a sword. How many times in our lifetime will we ever hear that kind of conviction from a fellow country man, a true patriot? Not from Sal Panelo who speaks as whimsically as he dresses, not from Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who defends his bigamy, not from Mocha Uson who is busy proving her intelligence. While everyone else is protecting his turf, Senator de Lima has nothing to do except perfect her inner self and will, passing over trivialities, going straight to the point, true. Permit me, Sir, to go into deep waters. You cried at the grave of your mother upon your election, did you not? Is there a connection between your seeming love for your mother and your hammer-and-tongs treatment for womenfolk? Do you not notice that you are especially drawn to take women as adversaries? Whatever is your issue with your mother, let it rest, Sir. You have your life to live, you have attained the pinnacle of your career, the admiration of 16 million or so, and whatever has transpired between you and your mom, give it all to God or Allah. Strike out from your angst, for it is getting in the way of your potential greatness. And do you know that Senator de Lima threw a tantrum just once in custody? It was when you averred that you had peeped in her quarters without her knowledge. While she was sleeping? This is too much. Way too much. Beyond ungentlemanly, more of an admission of some sick perversion. Visit her as a person, sit down and talk to her, but don’t treat her like your property which you can view anytime you see fit, like having a new car and you visit it at your driveway to have a final look before you go to sleep. She is a human being and she has rights. (Good thing it turned out to be a presidential joke.) She is resigned to the fact that as long as you are President, she will stay in detention. She’s a lawyer and she knows the extent of the law and the current state of our judiciary. You have testimonies which you say could stand in court—from coerced and perjured witnesses, she says, but will the court see it her way, that is the question. State has condemned her to



indefinite stay under close watch. Her visitors are frisked, patted down, sanitized, no pictures, a closed circuit tv in the receiving room. From 5 o’clock in the afternoon to the next morning, she is cut off from the rest of humanity, with only the steady whirr of an electric fan to keep her company. Imagine what that can do to a person. I myself cannot wish that on my enemy, for life within 12-feet high walls lined at the top by concertina wire and the presence of armed guards in shifts gets to you. She also said that you can do her no more harm. You have completely trashed her, for who is the woman who can face society with the scarlet letter at her back? Without purity and chastity, what is a woman to do, what is left for her to do? She said that whether or not the video exists, it doesn’t matter anymore. The threat of it is the fire that keeps her detractors’ rage against her at boiling point, short of stoning her to death. Some more points before I close: She gets her ZZZs, seven hours. Do you? She’s not depressed. Are you? She’s outraged that she doesn’t see the level of patriotism or outrage over the incursions of China into our natural resources. Are you? She thinks we are a virtually a province of China. Do you? She thinks that non-violence is key to solving our problems. Do you? She wants to be judged well by history. Do you? She is free in jail. You are not in jail, but are you free? She counts the days of detention, making sure every single day counts as unimportant things are shed for things that matter. She is ready to face her destiny, to be on God’s side in this life and the next. She has found true peace in the narrow confines of isolation. May Senator de Lima’s peace be with you. As-Salaam-Alaikum. Sincerely, Wilfredo G. Villanueva



Leila on my mind by Chit Roces-Santos

(An opinion piece published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on February 11, 2018) It’s not easy to forget that Sen. Leila de Lima is in jail, where she does not belong, any more than you or I. She is often in my thoughts, because I’m bothered. I wonder why I feel so strongly for her when I had never met her until we started visiting her in Camp Crame last year. She, of course, was no stranger to me; before she became senator, I had admired her courage and sense of public duty. As Justice department secretary, she had gone after the supposedly untouchable big fish. She put away former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for plunder, among other corrupt politicians.

Sen. Leila de Lima, much thinner

Before that, when she was chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Rodrigo Duterte was mayor of Davao City, she had begun investigating him; when she became senator and he president, she did not let up. Thus was laid the ax to grind against her. Duterte’s henchmen in Congress indulged him and broke all the rules of law and decency to demean a woman and a colleague, and persecute her on the word of life-term convicts for the most ludicrous and unimaginative accusation—drug trading. Now, the accusers, possibly awakened to the improbability of their case, are at a loss what to finally charge her with.



High spirits Meanwhile, she has remained in jail—for almost a year now. My husband and I, feeling for her as we suppose any other human with a natural sense of humanity does, visit her with a sense of righteous compulsion. I have mixed emotions whenever we visit Leila. She has lost weight; the 33 pounds she says is visibly believable. Lest anyone think it the result of emotional burden, she says she has given up rice at dinner, and she does seem upbeat and in high spirits. Obviously this woman cannot be easily broken. If she sometimes seems teary-eyed, that is from the outrage for the injustice, the inhumanity, done her. And, if one tear actually falls, it is for Israel. Israel is her special child; she calls him “my angel.” I wonder what goes on in his innocent mind whenever he goes back home from a visit to his mother and leaves her behind, all alone, in that strange place. I wonder what alleviation of pain or distraction from it is contributed by the 11 cats that have appeared from nowhere to offer her substitute company, not necessarily for Israel, but for Koko, her Japanese Spitz. Comic relief Visits do bring some comic relief, courtesy mostly of a younger brother who is naturally funny and comes intent especially to be so; we catch him this Sunday. We like to come Sundays when Mass is celebrated by Fr. Robert Reyes, the amazing champion of victims of injustices and general misery. He may be called the running priest, but I bet he cheats and sometimes flies, flown by his own guardian angel: How indeed has he managed to be where he is needed at the perfect time? We are no more than 30 admirers, friends, family and work staff. One Sunday earlier, a small choir of boys and girls from an urban poor community, led by their parish priest, sang at Mass. Until they had visited Leila, the youngsters had not been aware of her predicament.



This Sunday the choir is composed of young nuns and conducted by an elderly one, a militant one and a namesake of mine—Sister Teresita. Needless to say, nuns have a special place in our political history, a proven source of contagious courage in dark times. Foul mouth Father Robert always shortens his homily to share the floor with the visitors. The parish priest from the earlier visit told of many unclaimed young corpses turning up in his community. He knows firsthand, because he blessed each one. And he confessed that, as more and more bodies turned up, he felt himself less and less shocked. Surely, he said, nothing is worse than for a people, let alone a priest, to feel that way. The new president himself takes some getting used to, but do we really want to get used to him? What happens to us if we begin to regard as normal his foul mouth, his vindictiveness, his intolerance of dissent, his brutal ways? After Mass, there’s a buffet of Leila’s favorite Bicolano dishes, prepared by her family. Too soon, the visiting hours are over, and she is once again by herself. Alone, she reads and writes, she exercises and prays. She’s wise to welcome the silence and embrace the solitude and take in the benefits from the meditative circumstance in which she finds herself. Her faith is unshakeable. She believes that, if God wills it, she will be able to serve her country again—in freedom.



De Lima’s words

by Rina Jimenez-David

(An opinion piece published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 15, 2018) By now, all those interested in and concerned with the plight of Sen. Leila de Lima should be familiar with her handwriting. The penmanship is spiky, distinctive. The words, on single sheets of note paper, touch on a wide range of subject matter, from personal messages to analyses of and reactions to national events and policies. This is what a sitting government official has been reduced to: sending out handwritten missives in an age of digital communication, which would otherwise take but a few seconds to make their way around the world. The reason for this is that De Lima has been held in isolation with virtually no form of communication — no cell phone, no computer, not even a landline. Bereft of any form of constant or even regular human company, save perhaps for her jailers, the senator has had to resort to a series of dispatches, and released only sporadically. Still she remains remarkably in touch with events and developments outside, especially in the political arena. These messages are collected in a volume, “Dispatches from Crame I,” released earlier this year. They are windows to the mind, heart and experiences of the senator, held in detention on trumped-up drugs charges on account, as it is believed and proven by subsequent events, of her outspoken criticism informed by her background as justice secretary and chair of the Commission on Human Rights. Certainly, in her short stint in the Senate premises, she showed herself to be an outspoken, credible and courageous critic of the Duterte administration. So, her arrest and detention, based on the questionable and suspicious testimony of drug lords she had put behind bars, was obviously meant to silence her and deprive her of a forum for her independent views and courageous criticism. What struck me, though, was that even in her isolation, De Lima’s thoughts were directed toward her loved ones, including her late father who was largely responsible, she writes, for “the molding of my



character, personality and values.” What would he think of her present situation? she wonders. “I can only thank my dear dad,” she says, “for such a gift of foresight and his perseverance in instilling in me an unbreakable fiery spirit.” Writing of her special son and grandson, she reflects that “their perpetual innocence and purity in spirit insulate them from the cruelty and irrationality of humankind. They have a world of their own which I imagine is one free of pretensions and bitterness.” Such obliviousness is unfortunately not available to the senator. And neither would she want to be handed this “gift,” given her determination, she writes, “to forge on and stand in defense of what I believe is right.” De Lima fights on — with the five fingers of one hand splayed open in the gesture that is not only a graphic representation of her name but also a symbol of her determination to “stop” everything that is wrong with this government. As she says: “I may be the one in detention, but I know I am not the only one suffering nor the only one fighting.” Another woman currently in the cross-hairs of the Duterte administration — along with other women who’ve earned the President’s ire — is Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. She is currently battling a quo warranto petition seeking her instant dismissal from the Supreme Court, and even if she overcomes that, she faces impeachment by the House. In a message to the academic community, Ateneo de Manila University president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, observes that “it should alarm us when several justices who will decide on [the case] are among those who have accused her of wrongdoing … thus effectively prejudging the matter. How will justice and fairness now prevail?” The university, said Father Villarin, “expresses its dismay and disappointment at how vicious and malicious the search for accountability has become. It cannot not speak.” Thus, it “categorically calls on the Supreme Court to dismiss the quo warranto petition filed against the Chief Justice,” praying that God help “our people and our democracy,” as well as all the justices of the Supreme Court.



De-vilifying Sen. Leila de Lima by Lorelei Baldonado-Aquino

(A blog entry in Mom on a Mission, published on August 8, 2018) You were an academic achiever as a student, consistently finishing each school year at the top of your class. You took up Law and managed to graduate as the class salutatorian. You ranked 8th in the bar exam. You became a professor of Law. As one of the most prominent election lawyers in the country, you handled and won high-profile cases for candidates such as Koko Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano, Grace Padaca, and Ed Panlilio, among others. When you were appointed Commission on Human Rights chief, you fearlessly investigated extra-judicial killings, abductions, and human rights violations perpetrated by security forces, like Jovito Palparan, and by government officials, like then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. As Justice Secretary, you were at the frontline in bringing those who were involved in the multibillion-peso PDAF scandal to justice. You filed cases that led to the arrest of prominent personalities such as former Pres. Gloria Arroyo and sitting Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla. You filed a 5-billion peso smuggling case against Phoenix Petroleum, a syndicated estafa case against Globe Asiatique, and a murder case against then Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes. You probed the Ampatuan Massacre, the Atimonan blood bath, and the alleged INC abductions. You were the first DOJ Sec. who dared to raid the New Bilibid Prison to dismantle the perks accorded to the high-profile inmates there. In doing so, you single-handedly disrupted the operation of their lucrative drug business that was apparently operational inside the supposed maximum-security facility of the said penitentiary. You were part of the government’s legal team that received the favorable ruling over the country’s case against China’s WPS maritime claims from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. As head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, it was under your watch that the Philippines was removed from the US Human Trafficking Watchlist, which paved the way for our upgrade to Tier 1 status. As a newbie Senator, you were one of the most productive legislators with a total of 90 bills and 108 resolutions filed. You also fearlessly launched an inquiry into the spate of killings happening under the guise of a drug war.



But this administration had a special way of honoring people like you. You became its favorite punching bag and target of character assassination and slut-shaming, and of its supporters’ scorn and ridicule. You have been vilified and demonized for being Pres. Duterte’s most vocal, most fearless, and staunchest critic. On February 24, 2017, you were arrested and jailed. The case against you? Violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act for allegedly extorting money from the Bilibid inmates who traded and trafficked drugs inside the prison! Not an ounce of illegal drug was found in your possession, not a trail of the purported drug money was established, and not a single witness of unquestionable reputation and motive was presented, yet for more than 17 months now, you’ve been languishing in solitary pre-trial detention. The world is watching, though. They have seen that, even behind bars, you continue to perform your legislative duties largely through the capable hands of your staff. Via your hand-written statements, the Dispatches from Crame, you continue to share your voice and speak truth to power. You remain steadfast in your commitment to freedom, justice and the rule of law. You stay vigilant and fearless in expressing your dissent and condemnation over the countless killings, the wanton violations of human rights, and the culture of impunity and travesty of our democratic institutions, religious faith, cultural and moral values, legal processes, and constitutional sovereignty. They have witnessed that, instead of allowing this wicked regime to break and silence you and to weaken your spirit, you have used your incarceration to find your inner strength in asserting and fighting for what is right and just amid the formidable odds. And the grace with which you accepted this “detour” in your life’s journey just solidified their conviction that, indeed, all this is nothing more than a work of a deranged and vindictive president who uses all his power and influence and all the government machineries at his disposal to fabricate lies, fake news, and black propaganda about and against you, and feed them to his gullible supporters and paid army of trolls.



Image from VICE News

Since you were thrown into prison, and for your exceptional contribution to the advancement of human rights in the Philippines, you’ve been reaping international recognition left and right — and from prestigious award-giving bodies, no less. You are also being referred to as a Prisoner of Conscience. In 2017, you received the following accolades: Time Magazine, World’s 100 Most Influential People; Amnesty International, One of the Most Notable Human Rights Defenders Under Threat; and Foreign Policy, 100 Leading Global Thinkers. In 2018, you were conferred with the following distinctions: Fortune Magazine, World’s 50 Greatest Leaders; The Asian Correspondent, 5 Power Women of Southeast Asia; Amnesty International, Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender; Amnesty International, first ever Ignite Awards for Human Rights; The Diplomat, Woman to Watch in Southeast Asia; and just recently, Liberal International, Prize for Freedom. The members of the international community recognize political persecution when they see one. How I wish I could say the same for our countrymen.



PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH SEN. LEILA When I went to the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame last July 15 to visit Sen. De Lima, I had virtually no idea what to expect. I was just asked if I’d be available on that day from 9 am until 12 noon. When I excitedly said “Yes!,” I was told that there would be six of us from the #BabaeAko Movement, that I should wear comfortable clothes because it could get very hot inside, and that it was okay to bring food. That was it. Oh, and a message that said, “Excited daw si Sen. Leila to meet you!” That made me so nervous I wanted to throw up. Bearing a pot of flowers that I picked up from Dangwa on our way to Camp Crame, and a box of pastillas and two packs of chicharon I brought from Malolos, I was among the first to get to the appointed meeting place. After signing on the logbook, surrendering our mobile phones, having our bags checked, and being thoroughly frisked twice, we were ushered into a small room with around twenty monoblock chairs neatly arranged to face the small table at the front. There were three stand fans scattered around the room, and an abaniko atop each chair. Good thing it was drizzling outside so the temperature didn’t bother us as much. In no time, the little room became packed with around thirty people. Some, like Sen. Leila’s family, spiritual advisers, and friends, were obviously “regulars,” while others like me were first-timers. Someone carefully laid a white cloth over the table, and positioned my pot of flowers at the center, and a standing crucifix, a candle, and sacred vessels beside it. The room was transformed into a chapel. When Sen. Leila waltzed into the room with a beaming smile, sparkling eyes, and arms outstretched in warm welcome, everyone’s attention inevitably turned to her. She was like an instant ray of sunshine on that gloomy day. Dressed in a comfy sleeveless blouse, a pair of leggings, and her trademark scarf, she was a perfect vision of excellent health, a mind at peace, and a joyful heart. I could not help but notice the glow in her cheeks, the lilt in her laughter, and the bounce in her every step. According to one of her spiritual advisers, Sen. Leila’s solitary detention has allowed her to reflect more intensely on herself, her soul, and her mission. That should explain her serene and pleasant demeanor.



She greeted each of us with a hug, a beso-beso, and brief yet friendly pleasantries. The holy mass was about to start. Three priests — Fr. Robert Reyes, Fr. Albert Alejo, and Fr. Flavie Villanueva — officiated the mass. After the homily, all the first-timers and latecomers were, one by one, asked to stand at the front, face the crowd, and share something inspiring. I was the first to be called (ugh!), with about ten others who followed suit. The last to speak was Sen. Leila’s 34-year-old son, Israel, who gave a short but extremely sweet and innocent speech. Israel is one of Sen. Leila’s angels and sources of strength and inspiration (the other one is Brandon, her 11-year-old grandson. Like Israel, Brandon has autism, too.). Sen. Leila’s own reflection on the gospel immediately came after. The mass lasted for two and a half hours. While the group dispersed into smaller groups, there were people (Sen. Leila’s family and staff members, I assumed) who set up a buffet table at the back of the room. From a place of prayer and worship, the room is yet again transformed — this time, into a dining hall. I was fortunate enough to be seated at the only dining table in the room. With me were a fellow activist from BabaeAko, Fr. Albert, a husbandand-wife tandem (who, I heard, would like to refer to themselves as the writing couple), and our gracious host, Sen. Leila. It was during this interesting lunch-cum-discussion interaction (they did all the talking/speculating/bantering while I, all the listening/ observing/absorbing) and the ensuing interviews I conducted with her and some of the people who know her best that I learned a great deal about the good Senator — pieces of information that ranged from amusing and entertaining to fascinating, enticing and intriguing. TIDBITS ABOUT SEN. LEILA Recalling her life outside of detention, I learned that she has always been a keen and voracious reader –the proverbial bookworm. Like you and me, she also loved to watch TV series and movies. To de-stress during weekends, she used to drive around (sans her bodyguards), go to the wet market, do her own shopping, buy her own groceries, and play host to her family that she invites for either Sunday lunch or din-



ner. She knows her way around the kitchen and can cook a mean Bicol express and laing. Her sotanghon guisado is also something that her family always looks forward to. Sen. Leila loves to dance; she is particularly good at ballroom dancing. She plays volleyball, a sport that she was active in even way back in high school. She co-founded the Lambda Rho Sigma Sorority at the San Beda College of Law. And she has 13 dogs at home – labradors, jack russels, chihuahuas, and dachshunds. Her favorite, though, is Coco, a Japanese Spitz. She regularly went to Manaoag to attend the Sunday mass. It was part of her panata, as was joining the 5-km Good Friday procession in her hometown in Bicol. It’s also her family’s tradition to celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to indigenous peoples in the province – a practice that was started by her late father. Growing up, her father, former Comelec commissioner Vicente de Lima, was her confidante and guiding light, especially when it comes to making major decisions. He was the one who raised her to be studious, focused, and principled. However, it was her mother who “balanced her out” by exposing her to regular activities girls grew up with in their town. Just before her father died in 2012, he warned her against joining politics. Now, she knows why. Going into public office, let alone dipping her toes into the murky waters of politics, was actually never in the senator’s radar. When she was younger, she only dreamt of becoming a lawyer like her father. But, then, duty called. However, she never imagined herself being criminally charged and/or jailed, as “being dirty and corrupt is not in (her) DNA.” After she had been judicially annulled with her former husband, Atty. Plaridel Bohol, she promised herself never to marry again. Asked what she looks for in a man, she said that it is neither the looks nor the intellect. It’s not his bank account, either. Attitude is what’s most important for her. She is a workaholic by nature, which, she says, accounted for her shortcomings as a mother to her two sons. She thus considers herself



immensely blessed for having understanding children who love her despite her flaws. She is very protective of her ailing 84-year-old mother. In her want to shelter her from the painful truth, she and her three other siblings concocted the story that she is in the US for an extended study leave. Sen. Leila’s daily routine nowadays starts at around 5:00 in the morning by praying and reading her daily Bible devotionals. Then, she does some exercises, cleans her room, and takes a bath (using timba and tabo). Between 8:00-8:30 a.m., she takes her breakfast while reading the newspapers. Then more reading, this time around, though, it’s of work-related papers and drafts from her staff. To let her eyes have their much-needed rest, she gets a 20-30 minute shut-eye. Then, back to her reading. She takes a late lunch before she goes back to her reading. Between 3:00-5:00 p.m. (on weekdays), she receives visitors. (She calls her three spiritual advisers, her most frequent visitors, her very own Oscar Romeros.) After that, she is all alone in her quarters with only her pet stray cats to keep her company. Her evenings usually consist of more reading, dinner, prayers and Bible reading. She hits the proverbial sack at around 10 p.m. After much reflection, Sen. Leila views her incarceration as both a blessing and a curse. According to her, there’s actually beauty in solitude. She says, she has become more prayerful, a little tamer, and less judgmental as a result of her incarceration. She has also become less of a perfectionist. Now that she is in jail, she sleeps more soundly at night but “loneliness comes like a thief in the night, from time to time, which causes tears to fall just before I close my eyes.” LESSONS LEARNED FROM SEN. LEILA There are people whose lives could be a rich source of valuable lessons. Sen. Leila is definitely one of those. According to her, nothing worth doing is ever easy. From her words and actions, she taught me to always stand by my convictions without fear or favor. If I am doing what I think is right, I should have neither regrets in life nor fear of death. She said that righteous anger and indignation is also a virtue.



The fighter in her has also taught me to always hope for the best yet be ready for the worst – to not show my enemies any weakness that could be used to kick me even when I’m already down on my knees. But I also learned that I should not allow anyone or any situation rob me of hope because, sometimes, that is all that is left to us.

Image from

I learned that I should forgive myself as nobody is perfect. Hatred, for her, is an energy-draining exercise; it is best to not let it consume yourself. I learned that I should love my work but I should not let it be the center of my life. My relationship with my family, friends, and God should always be at the top of my priorities. Finally, I learned from her that when there’s nothing or no one else to cling on to, there is God. Always.



What everyone should understand is that Leila has not been convicted. Her guilt has not been legally proven. The charges against her have not been properly outlined. For goodness’ sake, she has not even been arraigned. And yet she is treated this way.

-Candy Cruz Datu

Part IV:


voices of hope “I hope that those who still doubt my innocence and those who have swallowed hook, line and sinker the lies that are being peddled against me will, one day, be able to tell the difference between accusations and proof; that the utter absence of the latter speaks louder than the lies of men…” -Leila de Lima


Messages of Support and Congratulations (The following is a selection of handwritten notes from guests—among them are friends, supporters, foreign dignitaries and colleagues in government—who were present for the awarding ceremony of the Liberal International Prize for Freedom held at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center on July 28, 2018)

Dearest Senator Leila, This ceremony has moved me to tears—mainly because I recall our last meeting in Crame. And how you have given a new dimension to dignity: to metamorphose suffering into the purest gift for our people. Your sacrifice. Your love. Your brilliance! I can only thank you. I will visit again soon! Marian Pastor Roces

Dear Sen. Leila, Isa po ako sa mga kabataang nabigyan ng pagkakataon na bumisita sa inyo sa PNP Custodial Center. Simula po noong araw na iyon, pinangako ko na marami pang kabataan ang hihikayatin ko na sumama laban para sa inyo, at para sa lahat ng taong pinaglalaban ninyo. Maraming salamat po sa pagbibigay-lakas sa aming nandito na lumalaban. Salamat po sa pagiging inspirasyon na patuloy na lumaban para sa lahat ng mga Pilipinong api at naghihirap. Maraming salamat po sa pananatiling malakas. Sa susunod po nating pagkikita! Lubos na humahanga, JP delas Nieves, Kabataan at Liberal



Sen. Leila, Without being thankful to him, if it weren’t for the president, I wouldn’t be able to meet an exemplary person such as you. The first time I saw you speak and act—in GMA’s time—I told my wife Baby that you’ll be president someday. My family and I love you. Wilfredo G. Villanueva

Dear Senator Leila, Congratulations on your award, Prize for Freedom Award. You greatly deserve the award as you symbolize the cry for freedom from oppression, killings, from dictator. I just would like to tell you that you inspire many by your courage. You became the voice of those who cannot speak, stand and fight. You are not forgotten. We are here to support you. God hears your prayer and rest assured that in due time you will be vindicated from all the trumped-up charges and be proven innocent of all the accusations. Be strong, be firm. We love you… Gary Alejano Magdalo “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11



Dear Senator, I’ve first met you when I was still a university student, when my political views were still unclear, and when you were still campaigning for your current position. Now, I am currently working for the liberals and I must say that although it is difficult due to our country’s current political situation—this is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Thus, I’d like to say that you were very instrumental and influential in shaping my political awareness. Thank you for fighting and standing up for freedom and humanity. I’d like to assure you that your efforts are not in vain. The youth like me knows your heart! Congratulations on your award today. I’d like to meet you soon again someday. I pray for justice to be served and for your health. -Micah

Dear Senator de Lima, This is but one letter from the multitude of letters you shall receive. I congratulate you for your historic award and I am inspired by your indomitable spirit. As a young Filipino, your imprisonment and the situation our country is facing might be disheartening for some but it has lit a fire in me and I’m sure in many more. You can rely on us to be your extension beyond the walls that imprison you. Our eyes are open, our ears are listening, and our mouths are ready to speak against and take action against inequality, injustice, and impunity. Light comes from everywhere and shines upon every darkness. As human beings, human rights come from within. The fight continues as we do. God bless, Sen. Leila to you and to all of us Filipinos. Mito Tañada



Dear Leila, You’re definitely not alone. We at LI will not give up. We will tell your story. We will spread the word. We will be your loud voice for the respect of rule of law, freedom and democracy UNTIL YOU ARE FREE. Hakima el Haite Incoming President of LI

That her fair form may stand and shine Make bright our days and light our dreams, Turning to scorn with lips divine The falsehood of extremes! “Freedom”, Tennyson It was an honour to stand behind you in court. William Townsend (Liberal International)

Dear Leila, Congratulations on the award. You truly deserve it. You are our fight! Because of your faith, spirit, courage, the Filipinos will overcome the world and will triumph against the evils of this administration. God is with you always! Do not fail us! Jun Davide (Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr.)



Dear Sen. de Lima, It’s not everyday that an ordinary citizen of our country like me can actually write to a senator many look up to. I want to thank you for defending for what you think is right—in this case, for what truly is the right thing. Thank you for giving us the justice we now don’t [receive under this administration], even if the price is grave injustice you now have to endure. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we can only do so much to fight for you; for justice in this country. You may never know me, but you will always be a hero to me and for the rest of us, including those who did not and will never believe you. In this day and age of profound asymmetry in the Philippines, you stood, you draw the line as straight as your principles. There is no one in our age today can ever be more deserving of this award than you. Your perfect imperfections justly represent us all. Stay strong. You will always be here with us, fighting. Congratulations! Francis Miguel Panday

Dear Senator de Lima, I am honoured to defend your case and your beliefs and now your freedom through my humble contribution via Liberal International (LI). Please know that you are not alone. I, LI and all of the global liberal family will not stop fighting for you, for democracy and for human rights in the Philippines. Tamara Dancheva Liberal International



Dear Senator, Your situation might not be the most ideal—in fact, it’s one of the most unfortunate situation for a freedom fighter, but I hope that you don’t lose hope. Hope springs eternal and you are one of the beacons of hope for those who are still fighting. This too shall pass and when it does, I, along, with the Filipino people [know] that the guilty perpetrator will get their due. Keep the faith burning. We’re all rallying behind you, Madame. With hope and dreams of a progressive Philippine politics, Dan

Mahal na Senador Leila, Di ko po ma-imagine ang sitwasyon mo diyan sa kulungan. Pero, nagpapasalamat ako sa inspirasyon ninyo sa akin bilang isang Pilipino. Sa mga kadiliman na nangyayari sa ating bansa ngayon, patuloy ang pagkukuha ng inspirasyon sa inyo. Mabuhay po kayo! At palaging nananalangin na sana bigyan pa kayo ng lakas, tibay ng loob at maayos na kalusugan upang magpatuloy na magbigay sa amin ng lakas ng loob. Carry on Madam Senator! Panalangin at pagmamahal. Padayon, Bayang Barrios



Dear Sen. Leila, Freedom cannot exist without the truth. It is quite ironic that those who speak the truth are denied freedom. Tyrants cannot last because they stand on shaky grounds of deception. Hold on, you are not alone. John Coronel Founding Executive Director, CALD

Dear Senator de Lima, Your love for the country and your countrymen is unparalleled. Your dedication to be of help to those who are in need despite your current situation is truly commendable. Your loyalty to your country, even though she turned her back to you, is indeed remarkable. You are an inspiration. Things may not make sense now, but in the future, it will. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are and will always be part of this movement for the preservation of freedom and human dignity. -Eunikkoh Castillo

Dear Senator Leila, Your voice resounds in my talks. You are the wind and spirit beneath our wings. Be strong. So we can be strong too for our country. God bless you Chris Monsod



Hello Senator Leila de Lima, I recently read all about you and your journey and to say that I’m amazed and so thankful for what you have been doing and who you are is an understatement. I’m so thankful you exist and continue to push through with your beliefs the way you do. Know that I’m supporting you all the way! FIGHT! Alexa Cruz

Dear Sen Leila, Visiting you the other day was a joyful yet painful experience. I was happy to see you, strong, focused, determined, as always, undaunted by the injustice to which you have been subjected. But it was painful to see your grace and strength under such circumstances. The unfairness of it is simply overwhelming. But I have no doubts, this tribulation will end, this darkness will end, and you will walk free and vindicated in the light of day. I very much look forward to that day. Till then, thank you for being strong for all of us. Your sacrifice will be our light and inspiration as we continue to strive for freedom and justice in this time of fear and oppression. All the best. And as I said the other day, we will always have your back. Barry



Dearest Senator Leila, Tightest embrace Indeed Liberal International did right by awarding you its primary prize for freedom! You keep the flame alive in all of us. We owe you big! Love you, Ging Quintos Deles

Dear Leila, We are truly so proud of you. You know we are with you all the way. The walls are crumbling and the enemies are eating each other. Keep the faith. We pray and act for your freedom to happen soon. Love and prayersDinky sunflower wishes and hugs

Dearest Sec. Leila, I mean what I say whenever I see you: “Persecution becomes you!” You bloom with the beauty of a flower to insult the ugliness in its midst. Sec. Mon Jimenez



A Letter from James Rice (This is one of the many letters sent to me by James Rice, a former professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.) March 7, 2018 Dear Senator De Lima, As ever, I hope this letter finds you in good spirits. This is the 21st letter in a series that I have been sending to you. Please extend my deep thanks to the people from Vice President Robredo’s office who are forwarding these letters to you. I’m sorry that after more than one year, the authorities remain determined to keep you in detention. It appears to anyone who wishes to investigate the sorry state of affairs is that the Duterte regime (here, as personified by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre) is determined to keep in detention. They seem to be guided by both petty vindictiveness on the one hand, and fear on the other. The petty vindictiveness of these people is of course obvious to even a casual observer. Since it is well known that you have a history (both prior to your election as senator and after) of investigating the crimes of Duterte in his role of mayor of Davao, and later a vocal critic of the regime, they wish to both silence, demonize and punish you. They also have taken the position of making an example of your case as a means of intimidating any other would be critics. However their motivation of fear is also certainly a strong factor in my view. Duterte and his cronies are now facing a slowly emerging but inevitable end game in which the International Criminal Court will likely result in issuing indictments for those in the Duterte regime who have played a role in those same extra-legal killings that you had been investigating over many years. It might not come in the near future, but no doubt it will come eventually. This last Sunday, I had an opportunity to meet Representative Gary Alejano who was on a visit to Hong Kong as part of his Magdalo party-list group. We had a good opportunity to chat at



length over lunch and I found him to be very smart, and a true leader. Although I hadn’t been aware of this, Alejano (and some of his group) had spent a lengthy time in detention, also in Camp Crame. Hopefully, his group will manage to gain popular support and do well in future elections. He informed me that he is deeply supportive of your cause. Congratulations again on the recent release of your e-book. I look forward to the print edition and getting a signed copy from you one day in the not too distant future! Here in Hong Kong, things remain rather grim. The political situation is getting more oppressive here, both in public and academic life. The PRC continues to intimidate and bully the population here into accepting the authoritarian rule of the Mainland. The students who I talk to in my classes now seem both numb and resigned to the inevitability of their eventual loss of public space and personal liberty. It’s really sad to see young people; kids who are just starting out on their lives, kids that ought to be so full of idealism, to be so disillusioned. Giving up on our ideals and our hopes of a better society is something that we cannot afford to let ourselves to fall into. For the past 25 years, I have fought for the cause of greater democracy here and against the tide of Mainland tyranny. I wish that I was able to have made more of a difference. In any case, for Cris and myself, we will soon be relocating to the Philippines. It’s now the final half of the semester here. I am both looking forward to and feeling some degree of trepidation for starting my second life there. I hope that I can continue to be useful. In the meantime, I guess we just have got to have faith that things will work out. Something good must happen sooner or later, it just must. As I told Rep. Alejano, one of my personal heroes, Benjamin Franklin once said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” He seemed to like that. As always, Keep up the good fight! Yours, James Rice, Hong Kong



It’s an enlightened world out there. I wish I can say the same about our country’s officialdom. When bogus drug charges wantonly weaved by the Duterte regime has put me behind bars 252 days ago, I felt like everything I have worked so hard for as a human rights and justice advocate was being ripped away by lies and evilness. Words cannot fully express the pain I go through each day of a most unjust detention. Apart from fulfilling a tyrant’s personal vendetta, the singular goal of detaining me is clear—to silence and cripple me in this fight for human rights and rule of law. But this latest accolade bestowed by the Liberal International (LI), and preceded by momentous resolutions from the European Parliament (EP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), all condemning my political persecution and calling for my immediate release, can only further fire up my spirit. Despite the continued demonization and persecution, with virtual judicial imprimatur, I will never lose heart and will never abandon my convictions. Unbowed and unbroken I shall remain. -Leila de Lima November 2, 2017

(Rappler, February 2017)

Part V:


truth be told

DE LIMA HANDSIGN | Senator Leila de Lima flashes her signature handsign (an open palm) which not only stands for her surname, but also for the 5th commandment “Thou shall not kill” as a protest against the killings under Duterte’s regime. For the Senator, it is also a signal to stop the lies and injustice against her. Meanwhile, supporters have noted that it could also mean that paper will always beat rock or the iron-fisted rule of the oppressors.




I’m extremely proud of the Motion for Reconsideration that my legal team and staff managed to produce and filed yesterday with the Supreme Court. I’m sure people won’t mind my shedding of any sense of modesty in drumbeating my own MR—an outstanding piece of work, sterling and compelling in its brevity and forthrightness in argumentation. It’s truly an inspired intellectual product of a brilliant team of legal eagles. I owe them my deeply-felt thanks. I’m enticing everyone to take a look at the MR. More than the strength and cogency of our legal arguments, I wish for the members of the High Court to believe in my innocence of any crime—whether Illegal Drug Trading/Trafficking or Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading/Trafficking or even Direct or Indirect Bribery. None of the accusations against me is true, as these are all part of a grand conspiracy of lies. With every fiber of my being, I earnestly seek for justice and vindication. Please join me in praying for an enlightened and courageous SC… Leila de Lima Dispatch from Crame No. 192 4 November 2017



My Motion for Reconsideration (This is my Motion for Reconsideration (MR) filed by my legal team with the Supreme Court (SC) last November 3, 2017, on the Court’s dismissal of my petition to recall the arrest warrant issued against me for drug charges. My MR was eventually denied by the SC, voting 9-5, in April 2018.)



HON. JUANITA GUERRERO, in her capacity as presiding judge, Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa City, Branch 204, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, P/DIR. GEN. RONALD M. DELA ROSA in his capacity as Chief of the Philippine National Police, PSUPT PHILIP GIL M. PHILIPPS, in his capacity as Director, Headquarters Support Service, SUPT. ARNEL JAMANDRON APUD, in his capacity as Chief, PNP Custodial Service Unit, and ALL PERSONS ACTING UNDER THEIR CONTROL, SUPERVISION, INSTRUCTION OR DIRECTION IN RELATION TO THE ORDERS THAT MAY BE ISSUED BY THE COURT,

G.R. SP No. 229781 For Certiorari and Prohibition with Application for Preliminary Injunction, and Urgent Prayer for TRO and Status Quo Ante Order

Respondents. MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION Petitioner, LEILA M. DE LIMA, by undersigned counsel, most respectfully moves for a reconsideration of the Honorable Court’s Decision dated 10 October



2017, and in support thereof respectfully states: PREFATORY STATEMENT This case is a test of the fortitude of our institutions of law against attacks to its foundation—justice as fairness. The idea that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law is so fundamental because it is the shield that protects the citizen from an overbearing State, and the wall that guards the separation between law and politics. While Petitioner has very strong views about the inherent unfairness of the process that has been manipulated to ensure her pre-trial detention for nonbailable charges, she believes that the truth about her case is accurately reflected in the Decision of the majority of the Members of the Honorable Court itself and the emphatic dissents of its other members. Nothing proves the truth of the matter in this case and the injustice that Petitioner has been made to bear more than a straightforward analysis of the Decision in this case—what it says and does not say; the internal incoherence of its arguments; the incompatible positions of members of the majority; and the sense of deep frustration and utter disbelief of some of the dissenting justices. Just as it is important for Petitioner to point out to the Members of the Honorable Court the evident deficit in reasoning in the Decision, it is equally important for Petitioner to place on record, for the sake of posterity, her fundamental arguments as to why the criminal prosecution against her should not be allowed to prosper and her liberty be not restrained any further. Ultimately, the Members of the Honorable Court must realize that this case goes beyond the freedom of a single citizen who has been singled out by the President of the Republic whose attacks against her and what she stands for continue unabated. It is about the quality of our democracy, the value of the Bill of Rights, and the stability of our institutions. 1

Filipinos are looking. The world is watching.

Attached as Annex “A” is a compilation of President Duterte’s documented public statements against Senator De Lima from August 16, 2016 to October 13, 2017. (A compilation of statements from the period 11 August up to 28 November 2016 was attached as Annex “A” to the Petitioner’s Compliance dated 17 March 2017; and a compilation of such statements for the period starting 15 May 2015 to 06 April 2017 was attached as Annex “A” to Petitioner’s Memorandum dated 17 April 2017.) 1



TIMELINESS 1. On 19 October 2017, the undersigned counsel received the Decision promulgated on 10 October 2017 (“Decision”). 2. The dispositive portion of the ponencia of the assailed Decision provides that: WHEREFORE, the instant petition for prohibition and certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Regional Trial Court of City, Branch 204 is ordered to proceed with dispatch with Criminal Case No. 17-165.

3. Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., in his Ponencia, ruled that the Petition should be dismissed based on the following grounds: First, the Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping attached in the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition was defective; Second, the Petitioner disregarded the rule on hierarchy of courts; Third, the Petition was filed prematurely; Fourth, the Petitioner violated the rule against forum shopping; Fifth, the Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over violations of Republic Act No. 9165. And lastly, that Judge Guerrero did not abuse her discretion in finding probable cause and issuing a warrant of arrest against the Petitioner. 4. Accordingly, the Petitioner is moving for a reconsideration of the Decision based on the grounds provided below.








5. A fundamental criminal due process right of a citizen is the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against her. The purpose of this right is not difficult to understand: to allow an accused to know the charges against her, so she may properly defend herself. 6. Petitioner, therefore, finds it a welcome development that the nine (9) Members of the Honorable Court, constituting the majority that has condemned Petitioner to suffer continued pre-trial detention, do not even agree on the nature of the charges against her. This fact speaks volumes about the fundamental unfairness of the continued deprivation of Petitioner’s liberty. 7. On a matter as simple and important as the sufficiency of the Information in apprising the Petitioner of the nature of the offense she is facing, only five (5) of the nine (9) justices agree that the crime charged is Illegal Drug Trading (the original accusation of the DOJ), not Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading (the subsequent accusation of the OSG).



8. In fact, three (3) justices, in their Separate Concurring Opinions, understand the Information as charging the crime of Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading, an entirely different offense as everyone who has taken up basic criminal law will certainly know. 9. On the other hand, one member of the Honorable Court remains vague about whether the Information charges Illegal Drug Trading or Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading. 10. Justices Velasco, Bersamin, Martires, Reyes, and Gesmundo voted together to hold Petitioner in continued pre-trial detention for Illegal Drug Trading. Justices De Castro, Tijam, and Peralta categorically stated that the offense charged is Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading. 3




11. Justice Del Castillo’s position, on the other hand, is somewhat of a puzzle. In the opening paragraph of page 3 of his separate concurring opinion, the Justice states that the crime charged is “conspiring to engage in trading of illegal drugs.” A mere four (4) paragraphs later, he declares that the offense was “trading and trafficking of illegal drugs in conspiracy with her co-accused.” 6

12. Everybody is aware that these charges are fundamentally incompatible. The OSG itself initially admitted such incompatibility in its Comment before the Supreme Court ; Petitioner voiced out the inconsistency during the Oral Arguments and again in her Memorandum ; and the dissent of Justice Caguioa reminds everyone of such glaring incompatibility. 7




13. Petitioner, therefore, invites the Honorable Court to look into the Summation of Votes because the distribution of the votes goes into the binding effect of the Decision and, consequently, impacts the right of the Petitioner to be immediately released. 14. Bluntly put, in the absence of a majority to sustain the validity of the Information, Petitioner is entitled to an immediate release from pre-trial detention as a matter of right. In Javellana v. Executive Secretary, while the insufficiency 11

Decision, pages 21 to 28. J. Leonardo-De Castro’s Concurring Opinion, p. 20 4 J. Tijam’s Separate Concurring Opinion, pp. 12 to 13. 5 J. Peralta’s Separate Opinion, pp. 24 to 25. 6 J. Del Castillo’s Separate Concurring Opinion, pp. 3. 7 Pars. 65, (p. 27), 155 (p. 62) and 157 (p. 63) of the OSG’s Comment dated 3 March 2017. 8 TSN of Oral Arguments Day 1, 14 March 2017, pp. 5 to 13. 9 Pars. 15 to 28 of Petitioner’s Memorandum dated 17 April 2017. 10 J. Caguioa’s Dissenting Opinion, pp. 7 to 14. 11 50 SCRA 31, 141. G.R. No. L-36283, 31 March 1973. 2 3



in the number of votes led to the unfortunate validation of the 1973 Constitution, in this case, a similar insufficiency in the number of votes to sustain the Information ought to lead to a fortunate result—the immediate release of Petitioner. 15. Ordinarily, a majority vote of the Members of the Honorable Court is sufficient to declare legal victory for a party in whose favor the majority voted. In civil cases, for example, the fact that the majority has differing legal views or approaches to a case generally has little impact in the determination of the disposition of the case. A majority of eight (8) justices with separate concurring opinions does not affect the binding nature of the result. 16. However, such rule does not apply in criminal cases, and in particular, the case at bar where the allegations are incoherent and contested by the Members of the Honorable Court. If a majority of the Members of the Honorable Court itself cannot agree on the nature of the criminal charges, it can only mean that there is no valid Information to sustain Petitioner’s pre-trial detention. 17. First. The absence of a majority on the nature of the charges against Petitioner is the clearest possible indicator—coming from the Supreme Court itself—that the accusation “is blatantly a pure invention” and “a fake charge,” to borrow from Justice Carpio. This is an institutional admission of the gravest consequence. 18. Second. If the members of the majority could not even agree on the nature of the accusation reflected in the Information, such fact is an objective indicator that respondent judge could not possibly have had probable cause to issue the warrant of arrest against Petitioner.

19. If at least three members of the nine justices constituting the majority that voted against Petitioner believe that the charges are for Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading, then it only follows that they must have concluded that respondent judge issued a warrant of arrest for an entirely different, and wrong, case. To keep Petitioner in continued pre-trial detention is patent abuse of judicial authority. 20. Third. If the Members of the Honorable Court diverge on the meaning of the accusation, then we all can agree that Petitioner’s constitutional right to know the nature and cause of the accusation against her has been violated. 21. Thus, by the standards of the divided opinion of a majority of the Members of the Honorable Court, they have already foretold the acquittal of the



accused. If this is not a justification for Petitioner’s release, then perhaps nothing can ever be. 22. For sure, the inherent incompatibility in the positions of the majority of the Members of the Honorable Court is a relevant input because Petitioner is not responsible for it; it reflects the internal conflict even among those who support Petitioner’s continued incarceration. 23. If another ridiculous complication were necessary, it is important to point out that the Department of Justice, in its 10 March 2017 Comment to the Petitioner’s Motion to Quash before the respondent judge, manifested before her that they were adopting the position of the OSG that the Information in fact charges the accused with Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading under Section 26(b) instead of Trading in Illegal Drugs under Section 5. 12

24. We, therefore, face a situation where the DOJ originally charged Petitioner with Trading in Illegal Drugs, which charge was later “re-angled” into a Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading, which in turn is incompatible with the ponente’s (and four other Members’) understanding of the Information, which they believe charges Trading in Illegal Drugs. This is a circus only madmen can enjoy. 25. Given these facts, Petitioner is inclined to agree with Justice Caguioa’s forceful warning: “The message is clear an unmistakable: Arrest first; resolve the motion to quash and amend the Information later; then proceed to trial; finally, acquit after ten years or so. It does not matter if the accused is to languish in detention. Never mind the accused’s constitutional right to be presumed innocent, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him and not to be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law. Never mind if the Information is void for containing mere conclusions of law, for failing to identify and quantify the specific dangerous drug which is the object or corpus delicti of the alleged RA 9165 violation, and for not alleging all the facts needed to establish the elements of the offense charged. Never mind if previously this same Court has ruled that such void Information warrants the acquittal of the accused.” 26. If a member of the Honorable Court declares— “When the very rights guaranteed to an accused by our Constitution are disregarded and the rules of procedure are accorded precedence—that is abhorrent and preposterous. That is plain and simple injustice.” 13


12 13 14

Pages 23 to 24, Annex “B” of Petitioner’s Memorandum dated 17 April 2017. J. Caguioa’s Dissenting Opinion, p. 58, last paragraph. Ibid., first paragraph.



—then a litigant such as Petitioner, who has complained all throughout these proceedings about the undeniable political persecution and abuse of government power attendant in this case, has reasonable grounds to worry about the Honorable Court itself being the instrument of the injustice she complains of. II. RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN ISSUING THE WARRANT OF ARREST. 27. Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution guarantees that “[n]o person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” 28. The Due Process Clause assumes even greater importance where, as here, the danger exists that a citizen might be subjected to deprivation of liberty because of the non-bailable character of the charge. 29. Petitioner, therefore, finds it inconveniently amusing that, despite all the warning signs, respondent judge nonetheless issued the warrant of arrest against her. It is, therefore, not without a disbelieving sense of wonder that the majority of the Members of the Honorable Court have neglected these warning signs which were fully articulated in the Petition, during the oral arguments, in Petitioner’s Memorandum, and in the vigorous dissents of their colleagues. 30. One would think that between the perils posed by the continued pre-trial detention of Petitioner and the presumption of innocence guaranteed by the Constitution, the Honorable Court would tilt the balance in favor of liberty in view of the obvious and consistently articulated red flags. Petitioner need not speak for herself, as these red flags in the actions of the respondent judge have been enume- rated in Justice Caguioa’s dissent: (1) She issued the warrant of arrest against Petitioner despite the patent defects evident on the face of the Information; (2) She made a determination of probable cause for violation of RA 9165 against Petitioner despite the absence of sufficient factual averments in the Information of the specific acts constituting such violation; (3) She disregarded established and hornbook jurisprudence requiring the presence of corpus delicti in dangerous drugs cases,



thus characterizing her act of issuing a warrant of arrest as gross ignorance of the law; (4) She totally ignored or purposely closed her eyes to a plethora of cases which held that Information that aver conclusions of law, and not specific facts, as to the offense allegedly committed, are null and void for being violative of the accused’s right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him; (5) She assumed jurisdiction over the case despite the fact that the Information had not validly charged Petitioner with any offense under RA 9165, it being patent that the only crime the Information could sustain is one exclusively cognizable by the Sandiganbayan; (6) She disregarded and violated Petitioner’s rights not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law and to be presumed innocent when she purposely did not rule on Petitioner’s Motion to Quah before she issued a warrant for her arrest, showing extreme and utter malice and bias against Petitioner; (7) If there was a doubt as to whether the Motion to Quash was to be resolved simultaneously with the determination of probable cause, she should have resolved the doubt in Petitioner’s favor which is the general and accepted rule; and since she did not do so, this again showed her bias against Petitioner; (8) She acted without jurisdiction when she took cognizance of the case despite the fatal defect on the face of the Information that it could not have validly charged any violation of RA 9165 against Petitioner and that what is apparent therein is only a possible charge of indict bribery, which is exclusively cognizable by the Sandiganbayan; and (9) In finding probable cause against Petitioner for violation of RA 9165 and issuing the warrant of arrest against her despite the nullity of the Information, she disregarded and curtailed Petitioner’s right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against her and to be presumed innocent, again showing bias against Petitioner. 15


Ibid., pp. 40 to 41.



31. Instead, majority of the Members of the Honorable Court has found, in each and every instance and at each and every stage, the most casual of justifications to sustain her pre-trial detention and the actuations of respondent judge. 32. With due respect, it is remarkably apparent that the jurisdictional jiu jitsu, the benevolent attitude towards the DOJ’s and the OSG’s prosecutorial misconduct, the interpretation in favor of incarceration, the disregard of long-established precedents, even the generous advice given to the respondent judge as to how to correct the apparent defects in the Information are all incompatible with the most basic standards of justice. A referee cannot play for either side. 33. The majority’s decision is unfair because “it unsettles established doctrine, misapplies unrelated canons, and most importantly, fails to render good judgment.” 16

34. As pointed out by Justice Leonen, “[e]ven the issuance of the Warrant of Arrest was unconstitutional. Respondent Regional Trial Court Judge Juanita Guerrero did not conduct the required personal examination of the witnesses and other pieces of evidence against the accused to determine probable cause. She only examined the documents presented by the prosecution. Under the current state of our jurisprudence, this is not enough considering the following: (a) the crime charged was not clear; (b) the prosecution relied on convicted prisoners; and (c) the sworn statements of the convicted prisoners did not appear to harmonize with each other.” 17

35. Thus, “[t]he doubt in the nature of the offense charged in the Information and the nature and the content of the testimonies presented would have put a reasonable judge on notice that it was not sufficient to depend on the documents available to her. The complexity of this case should have led her to actually conduct a physical hearing, call the witnesses, and ask probing questions.” These precautions were compelling because “[a]fter all, even Justices of th[e] Court were left bewildered by what was charged, leaving th[e] Court divided between Direct Bribery, Illegal Trading, or even Illegal Trafficking. The Solicitor General himself proposed that it was Conspiracy to Commit Illegal Trading which was being charged.” 18


16 17 18 19


In the case at bar, Petitioner has been effectively deprived of her

J. Leonen’s Dissenting Opinion, p. 1, second paragraph Ibid., p. 4, first full paragraph. Ibid., p. 44, second paragraph. Ibid., third paragraph.



liberty because of the hasty and baseless issuance by respondent judge of the warrant of arrest, despite all the warning signs. The effect of this malicious use of judicial process has been the continued pre-trial detention of Petitioner for a crime that even the Members of the Honorable Court cannot agree on. 37. Justice Jardeleza notes: “the respondent judge violated Petitioner’s constitutional right to due process and to speedy disposition of cases when she issued a warrant of arrest without resolving the issue of jurisdiction over the offense charged. She ought to have known that, under the Rules, she could not have proceeded with Petitioner’s arraignment if she did not have jurisdiction over the offense charged. Respondent judge’s error is aggravated by the fact that the lack of jurisdiction is patent on the face of the information.” 20

38. Just as glaring as the unconstitutional haste perpetrated by the respondent judge in this case—the “arrest now, worry later” plan—is the bogus character of the allegations as reflected in the Information, which has now found safe haven in the Honorable Court’s decision. Petitioner cautions the Honorable Members of the Court to pause and consider the grave implications of sustaining an Information that does not allege any corpus delicti. 39. As was pointed out by Justice Carpio, “the Information in Criminal Case No. 17-165, as filed against Petitioner, clearly and egregiously does not specify any of the essential elements necessary to prosecute the crime of illegal sale of drugs under Section 5, or of illegal trade of drugs under Section 5 in relation to Section 3(jj). Indisputably, the Information does not identify the buyer, the seller, the object, or the consideration of the illegal sale or trade. The Information also does not make any allegation of delivery of the drugs illegally sold or traded nor of their payment. The Information does not state the kind and quantity of the drugs subject of the illegal sale or trade.” 21

40. Justice Carpio’s warning that “the actual sale or trade of dangerous drugs can never be established” given such defective Information carries a dangerous practical consequence: it is a virtual license for law enforcement agencies acting through prosecutors and judges to concoct more fake charges based on falsified affidavits. Citizens ought to shudder at the thought of this new weapon of misconduct that can be used to harass and mulct the innocent. 22

41. The “failure to allege any of the essential elements of the offense invariably means that probable cause cannot be determined on the basis of the J. Leonen’s Dissenting Opinion, p. 1, second paragraph Ibid., p. 4, first full paragraph. 22 Ibid., 4th paragraph. 20 21



Information, both as to the commission of the offense and as to the issuance of the warrant of arrest.” 23

42. Thus, not only should the respondent judge not have issued a warrant of arrest, she also should have known that the defect in the Information means that under no circumstances can Petitioner be held guilty of a crime for which the most important element does not exist. 43. In view of these dangers, Petitioner worries, not just for herself, but for everyone else who becomes a target of an administration that has shown no qualms about running roughshod over constitutional guarantees to obtain the result it desires. With its decision, the Honorable Court may have effectively brought forth the era of “Tanim Kaso.” Petitioner hopes the Honorable Court remedies this grave error. III. THE SANDIGANBAYAN, NOT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, HAS JURISDICTION OVER PETITIONER’S CASE. 44. The Sandiganbayan is the tribunal that has jurisdiction over the charges against the Petitioner based on the allegations in the Information and the governing law on the matter. This notwithstanding, a majority of the Members of the Honorable Court declared that “[t]he pertinent special law governing drugrelated cases is RA 9165, which updated the rules provided in RA 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. A plain reading of RA 9165, as of RA 6425, will reveal that the jurisdiction over drug-related cases is exclusively vested with the Regional Trial Court and no other.” 24

45. This so-called plain reading flies in the face of settled jurisprudence and the current language of the statute, as pointed out by the dissenting justices. 46. Justice Perlas-Bernabe conducted a survey of the relevant jurisprudence, which indicates the basic test to determine whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over a case: Does the Information allege a close or intimate connection between the offense charged and the accused’s public office? 25

47. She declares: “[t]he Information against petitioner clearly passes this test. For, indeed, it cannot be denied that petitioner could not have committed Ibid., p. 16, 2nd full paragraph. dated 10 October 2017, p. 29, 3rd paragraph. 25 J. Perlas-Bernabe’s Separate Concurring and Dissenting Opinion, pp. 8 to 11. 23

24 Decision



the offense of Illegal Drug Trading as charged without her holding her office as DOJ Secretary. Her alleged complicity in the entire drug conspiracy hinges on no other than her supposed authority to provide high-profile inmates in the NBP protection and/or special concessions which enabled them to carry out illegal drug trading inside the national penitentiary.” 26

48. Chief Justice Sereno analyzed in depth the Information and the affidavits against Petitioner and concluded that “petitioner is not charged with having committed any other act in a private, non-official capacity to further the trade in drugs. It is, therefore, indubitable that she is being charged in her former capacity as a public official and for having committed violations of RA 9165 by using her office as a means of committing the crime of illegal trading in dangerous drugs under Section 5 in relation to Section 3(jj), Section 26(b), and Section 28.” 27

49. The Chief Justice also extensively analyzed the legislative history of the Sandiganbayan statutes and found that it was “the intention of Congress to focus on the expertise of the Sandiganbayan not only on high-ranking public officials, but also on high-profile crimes committed in relation to public office. At the outset, the fact that the crime was committed by a high-ranking public official as defined by the Sandigabayan law makes it a high-profile crime in itself. However, the most succinct display of the legislative intention is the recent passage of R.A. 10660, which transfers so-called minor cases to the regional trial courts.” 28

50. Justice Carpio complains: “[i]n insisting on the jurisdiction of the RTC, the ponencia sets aside R.A. No. 10660 as if this law does not exist at all.” He states that “the Sandiganbayan has exclusive original jurisdiction in ‘all cases’ of bribery where the accused is a public official with a Salary Grade 27 or higher and the amount involved exceeds P1,000,000. Furthermore, the Sandiganbayan also exercises exclusive original jurisdiction in ‘all cases’ involving other offenses or felonies committed in relation to their office by the officials and employees enumerated under Section 4 a, a situation applicable to petitioner Senator De Lima.”



51. Justice Leonen states that “[t]he legislative grant of jurisdiction to the Sandiganbayan can be no clearer than how it is phrased on Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1606 as amended by Republic Act No. 8429” and concludes that “[j]urisdiction over crimes committed by a Secretary of Justice in relation to his or her office is explicit, unambiguous and specifically granted to the 31

Ibid., p. 16, 2nd full paragraph. Sereno’s Dissenting Opinion, p. 19, last paragraph. 28 Ibid., p. 41, first paragraph. 29 J. Carpio’s Dissenting Opinion, p. 21, last paragraph. 30 Ibid., p. 26, first paragraph. 31 J. Leonen’s Dissenting Opinion, p. 2, first full paragraph. 26

27 CJ.



Sandiganbayan by law.”


52. Justice Leonen also complains that “the majority relies upon ambiguous inferences from provisions which do not categorically grant jurisdiction over crimes committed by public officers in relation to their office.” 33

53. Even Justice Peralta’s Separate Opinion exposed as obviously unfounded the ponencia’s contention that the Sandiganbayan is simply an anti-graft court, when he took judicial notice of the Sandiganbayan Statistics on Cases Filed, Pending and Disposed of from February 1979 to May 31, 2017, which shows that said special court tries “non-graft cases”, such as Murder, Homicide, Robbery, Theft, and even Adultery and Concubinage. 34

54. What, therefore, bothers Petitioner is the apparent lengths to which the majority of the Members of the Honorable Court have gone to justify the conferment of jurisdiction over the respondent judge who, by the way, has shown an evident intent to ensure her pre-trial detention. 55. While the text of the various Sandiganbayan statutes, their legislative history, and the jurisprudence surrounding jurisdictional line-drawing between the regular courts and the Sandiganbayan clearly provide multiple justifications for holding that the respondent judge had no jurisdiction over this case, the majority of the Members of the Honorable Court nonetheless managed to evade text, history, and structure to justify the actions of respondent judge in assuming jurisdiction. IV. THE HONORABLE COURT’S PROCEDURAL OBJECTIONS TO THE PETITION ARE NULLIFIED BY ITS OWN DECISION ON THE MERITS. 56. The majority of the Members of the Honorable Court objects to the Petition being decided on the merits on various grounds: violation of the doctrine of hierarchy, prematurity, forum shopping, and apparent defect in the verification. 57. With due respect, the gravity of the majority’s procedural objections is disputed by its extended resolve to decide the case on the merits. The screaming attestation to this fact is the dispositive portion of the decision— Ibid., second full paragraph. third full paragraph. 34 Separate Opinon J. Peralta Pages 11-12. 32

33 Ibid.,



WHEREFORE, the instant petition for prohibition and certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa City, Branch 204 is ordered to proceed with dispatch with Criminal Case No. 17-165. 35

58. Violations of the doctrine of hierarchy, prematurity, rule on forum shopping, and defects in the verification warrant immediate dismissal of a petition as these defects either go into the jurisdiction of a court or the validity of the pleading itself.

59. It follows, therefore, that the Honorable Court’s decision to proceed extensively with all the merit-based aspects of the Petition contradicts the apparent insistence to nitpick on the procedural aspects of this case. To be sure, the dispositive of the decision did not even mention the alleged procedural infirmities of the Petition. 60. Petitioner, thus, notes with amusement the majority’s fixation with procedural standards and simultaneous regard for deciding the merits of this case. While the majority regards the apparent procedural violations as grounds for “immediate dismissal,” it nonetheless has shown focused attention on the substantive issues raised by the Petitioner. With due respect, this internal inconsistency betrays the majority’s lack of intellectual investment in the alleged procedural defects in the Petition. 61. Indeed, the majority’s interest in insisting on procedural discipline contrasts with the general attitude of the Honorable Court in the past two decades, with its repeated invocations of its authority to decide cases on the basis of its expanded jurisdiction under the grave abuse of discretion clause of the Constitution, and its permissive attitude in deciding cases that are of “transcendental importance.” 62. In fact, Justice Peralta, who ostensibly voted with the majority, expressly and unequivocally admitted “the novelty and the transcendental importance of the jurisdictional issue raised by petitioner” in this case. 36

63. Petitioner, therefore, does not wish to belabor the point considering that the Honorable Court itself proceeded with the merits of the Petition. She merely wishes to state her objections to the alleged defects in the Petition, objections that are extensively discussed in the dissents of the other Members of the Honorable Court. 37

Decision, p. 49. Peralta’s Separate Opinion, p. 1, second paragraph 37 See respective Dissenting Opinions of CJ. Sereno, J. Carpio, J. Leonen, J. Jardeleza, and J. Caguioa, and the Separate Concurring and Dissenting Opinion of J. Perlas-Bernabe. 35

36 J.



64. Indeed, if the defects in the Petition were clear and unmistakable, one would expect some measure of unanimity among the Members of the Honorable Court, not vigorous and polar disagreement. Thus, regardless of anyone’s attitude towards these procedural safeguards—liberal or strict—open-minded observers will have to agree that there exists an honest disagreement over these supposed defects. For Petitioner, that is more than enough justification for proceeding on the merits of her claims, which all the Members of the Honorable Court proceeded to do anyway.

SUMMARY 65. There is no better way to describe the gravity of the injustice that has been committed against Petitioner than in the very own words of the Honorable Supreme Court in the case of Allado v. Diokno : 38

The facts of this case are fatefully distressing as they showcase the seeming immensity of government power which when unchecked becomes tyrannical and oppressive. Hence the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, defines the limits beyond which lie unsanctioned state actions. But on occasion, for one reason or another, the State transcends this parameter. In consequence, individual liberty unnecessarily suffers. The case before us, if uncurbed, can be illustrative of a dismal trend. Needless injury of the sort inflicted by government agents is not reflective of responsible government. Judges and law enforcers are not, by reason of their high and prestigious office, relieved of the common obligation to avoid deliberately inflicting unnecessary injury. The sovereign power has the inherent right to protect itself and its people from vicious acts which endanger the proper administration of justice; hence, the State has every right to prosecute and punish violators of the law. This is essential for its self-preservation, nay, its very existence. But this does not confer a license for pointless assaults on its citizens. The right of the State to prosecute is not a carte blanche for government agents to defy and disregard the rights of its citizens under the Constitution. Confinement, regardless of duration, is too high a price to pay for reckless and impulsive prosecution. Hence, even if we apply in this case the “multifactor balancing test” which requires the officer to weigh the manner and intensity of the interference on the 38

301 Phil. 213 (1994).



right of the people, the gravity of the crime committed and the circumstances attending the incident, still we cannot see probable cause to order the detention of petitioners. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the people against arbitrary and discriminatory use of political power. This bundle of rights guarantees the preservation of our natural rights which include personal liberty and security against invasion by the government or any of its branches or instrumentalities. Certainly, in the hierarchy of rights, the Bill of Rights takes precedence over the right of the State to prosecute, and when weighed against each other, the scales of justice tilt towards the former. Thus, relief may be availed of to stop the purported enforcement of criminal law where it is necessary to provide for an orderly administration of justice, to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive and vindictive manner, and to afford adequate protection to constitutional rights. Perhaps, this case would not have reached this Court if petitioners were ordinary people submissive to the dictates of government. They would have been illegally arrested and detained without bail. Then we would not have the opportunity to rectify the injustice. Fortunately, the victims of injustice are lawyers who are vigilant of their rights, who fight for their liberty and freedom not otherwise available to those who cower in fear and subjection. Let this then be a constant reminder to judges, prosecutors and other government agents tasked with the enforcement of the law that in the performance of their duties they must act with circumspection, lest their thoughtless ways, methods and practices cause a disservice to their office and maim their countrymen they are sworn to serve and protect. We thus caution government agents, particularly the law enforcers, to be more prudent in the prosecution of cases and not to be oblivious of human rights protected by the fundamental law. While we greatly applaud their determined efforts to weed society of felons, let not their impetuous eagerness violate constitutional precepts which circumscribe the structure of a civilized community. (Citations omitted; Emphasis supplied) 66. Indeed, “[c]onfinement, regardless of duration, is too high a price to pay for reckless and impulsive prosecution.� Petitioner has been suffering the consequences of this reckless and impulsive prosecution for 253 days now.



67. And, indeed, it is fortunate that Petitioner is a lawyer, a lawmaker and a human rights defender “who [is] vigilant of her rights, who fight[s] for [her] liberty and freedom not otherwise available to those who cower in fear and subjection.” 68. Otherwise, “the opportunity to rectify the injustice” might have never even arisen. And it may yet still be lost, and the failure to remedy this injustice will go down in history as a tragically novel case where the Supreme Court – the last bastion of the Rule of Law – stood aside and willingly allowed a citizen, a human rights lawyer, and a dissenter to be incarcerated under charges that are demonstrably false based on the opinions of the members of the Honorable Court.


1. The ponente, Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, should inhibit and desist from continuously ruling on the case at bar due to his evident partiality. 2. On 05 October 2017, a Motion to Inhibit has been filed against Justice Velasco, highlighting his partiality towards German Agojo y Luna, the drug lord that he moved to be acquitted in the case of People of the Philippines vs German Agojo y Luna. 39

German Agojo, who is an integral witness in the case a quo and is also a Complainant against herein Petitioner under several criminal and administrative cases. 3. Despite the significance and detrimental consequence of his participation in the case at bar, Justice Velasco chose to improperly respond by issuing a press release regarding the Motion. 4. Such partiality, nevertheless, became even more pronounced in the manner by which Justice Velasco ruled on the case at bar. Revelatory in his own ponencia is a clear case of flip-flopping on his part as shown by the dissenting opinion of Justice Carpio.


G.R. No. 181318, 16 April 2009.



5. Justice Velasco ruled in a long line of cases, namely in People v. Guiara, People v. Ara, People v. Pagkalinawan, People v. Politico, People v. Manlangit, People v. Aure, People v. Quiamanlon, People v. Pambid, People v. Roble, People v. De la Cruz, People v. Pascua, People v. Musa, and People v. Adrid, that the essential elements that have to be established for the crime of illegal sale of drugs under Section 5 of RA 9165 include: 1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale and the consideration; and 2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment. 40













All these rulings had been conveniently ignored by Justice Velasco in the case at bar. 6. Since Justice Velasco has demonstrably failed to show the cold neutrality of an impartial judge, his continued failure to inhibit violates Petitioner’s right to due process of law. PRAYER WHEREFORE, premises considered, Petitioner respectfully prays for the following reliefs: 1. The immediate release of Petitioner from detention considering that there are not enough votes to sustain the validity of the Information in Criminal Case No. 17-165; 2.

To dismiss the case; and


The inhibition of Justice Velasco.

Petitioner likewise prays for other just and equitable reliefs.

616 Phil. 290, 302 (2009). 623 Phil. 939, 955 (2009). 42 628 Phil. 101, 114 (2010). 43 647 Phil. 728, 738 (2010). 44 654 Phil. 427, 436 (2011). 45 654 Phil. 541, 553 (2011 ). 46 655 Phil. 695, 705 (2011).
 47 655 Phil. 719, 732(2011). 48 663 Phil. 147, 157 (2011). 49 666 Phil. 593, 605-606(2011). 50 672 Phil. 276, 283-284 (2011). 51 698 Phil. 204, 215 (2012). 52 705 Phil. 654, 670 (2013). 40 41



RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED Quezon City for the City of Manila. 03 November 2017. By: FLORIN T. HILBAY Counsel for Petitioner JOSE MANUEL I. DIOKNO Counsel for Petitioner TEDDY ESTEBAN F. RIGOROSO Counsel for Petitioner ALEXANDER A. PADILLA Counsel for Petitioner WIGBERTO E. TAÑADA Counsel for Petitioner R.A.V. SAGUISAG Counsel for Petitioner CHRISTIAN S. MONSOD Counsel for Petitioner

Copy furnished: SOLICITOR GENERAL Counsel for the People of the Philippines



A Timeline of Political Persecution and Injustice Early on, I became a consistent target of fake news and troll messages, ranging from drug and corruption allegations to attacks on my personhood and security. My family was not spared. My sister and son, for instance, were the subject of separate fake news reports claiming that they were arrested in an airport outside the country for carrying illegal drugs with them. To spare her from suffering, my mother, to this day, has no idea about my unjust incarceration. She thinks I’m on a study leave abroad.

De Lima arrives at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court, her first public appearance since she was detained. (EPA, March 2017)

A number of foreign dignitaries who came to the Philippines in their hopes of meeting me were denied a visit inside my detention despite the observance of the prescribed period and other requirements to secure clearances from custodial authorities. In detention, documents are brought in by my staff which are routinely inspected and sometimes confiscated for restrictive reasons, claiming they are “propaganda materials” or “signs of protest”. I remain without access to cell phone, laptop, computer, internet, television, radio, and other electronic gadgets.



Even from behind bars, I continue to speak out on major issues and against the injustices and abuses of the Duterte regime, issuing 367 handwritten dispatches so far (as of August 20, 2018). I chronicled here the factual backdrop of the unprecedented level of persecution I have been subjected to using the full might of the State’s propaganda machinery and instrumentalities. 2009 As then Chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), I investigated the extrajudicial killings being carried out by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) which has reported links to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. This is how I began to earn the ire of the man who would later become President in 2016. December 15, 2014 As Justice Secretary, I led the first decisive raid inside the New Bilibid Prison to stop illegal activities, including drug trading, inside the state penitentiary. With an axe to grind against me—if not threatened or coerced—some of the incarcerated drug lords eventually lied against me in a congressional hearing in 2016, painting me as a “Bilibid drug queen”. July 11, 2016 Solicitor General Jose Calida alleged that the drug problem worsened when I was the Justice Secretary. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel also claimed that I was out to discredit Duterte’s war on drugs. July 13, 2016 I filed a Senate resolution calling for an investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country which began as soon as Duterte, who promised to eliminate drug criminals, became President. Three weeks later, I delivered a privilege speech calling for an end to the EJKs. July 21, 2016 Solicitor General Calida showed to reporters a photo of mine with



high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian in the background. He alleged it was taken inside Sebastian’s kubol or luxury prison cell. The photo, in fact, was taken during an event covered by the media during activities that are part of the reformatory program inside Bilibid. August 11, 2016 “I will have to destroy her in public”, Duterte said, referring to a female government official, who, as it turned out, was none other than me. Duterte and his officials began to demonize me and hasn’t stopped since with their incessant tirades and misogynistic attacks. Orchestrated and blatant lies against me were further propagated by shady characters who were eventually rewarded with plum posts in government. August 17, 2016 Duterte castigated me for my past relationship with my former driver/ security aide, calling me an “immoral, dirty woman”. August 24, 2016 Duterte cussed at me, telling me “you are finished” and that it’s enough for him to know that I’m “undergoing a nightmare”. Announcing the name of my alleged new boyfriend, he said that my so-called immorality and “sex escapades led [me] to commit serious violations of the law.” August 25, 2016 Duterte released a so-called “drug matrix” purportedly proving that I was at the center of drug trade operations inside Bilibid. August 29, 2016 Duterte said that I was being shamed as a woman and should resign. He said: “If I were De Lima, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll hang myself. Your life has been, (not just your life, but) the innermost of your core as a female is being serialized everyday.”



August 31, 2016 Duterte referred to me as his “number one critic”, admitting that I have made enemies in my public duty of upholding human rights as he referred once again to my so-called sex video. This much-touted sex video spread through fake news sites that are patently supportive of Duterte. September 1, 2016 Then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II alleged that two of my former employees at the Department of Justice (DOJ) have millions in their bank accounts that they supposedly held for me. The two have denied Aguirre’s claim and the bank slips presented as so-called evidence turned out to be fake. September 19, 2016 After leading just three Senate hearings on the drug-related killings, I was ousted as Senate Justice Committee Chair through the efforts of my colleagues allied with Duterte. September 22, 2016 Duterte in his continued attacks against me, referred to my alleged “propensity for sex”, saying: “She was not only screwing her driver, she was screwing the nation.” He added that if I was his mother, he would have me shot. September 26, 2016 Duterte expressed confidence that I will be facing prison time for allegedly being involved in narco-politics which supposedly financed my senatorial bid. He also grew more explicit in publicly shaming me, saying I can have as many lovers in prison. He said I should be ashamed of myself as he likened me to actors from X-rated movies who emerge from their film shoot smiling. “Any other woman would have slashed her throat,” he added. Duterte said he would interrogate me over my so-called sex video by asking me: “Is this you pumping?”



I have repeatedly and vehemently denied that I have a sex video. September 28, 2016 A stabbing incident inside the New Bilibid Prison left a convicted Chinese drug lord dead and three others, namely, Peter Co, Vicente Sy and Jaybee Sebastian, seriously injured. The three eventually testified against me in the House hearing on the Bilibid drug trade. September-November 2016 In the course of the televised hearings on the Bilibid drug trade, and with consent from members of the House of Representatives, my cell phone number and home address were revealed to the public, exposing me to harassment and a deluge of hate messages. Lawmakers also pried unnecessarily into my personal affairs, threatening to show my alleged “sex video”, asking unwarranted and insulting questions, and crudely resorting to slut-shaming tactics. Most of the so-called witnesses presented were convicted criminals who tagged me as an alleged protector of drug syndicates. October 19, 2016 Giving credence to the testimonies of inmates-turned-witnesses, Duterte accused me of having “odious character” and “raising the view of womanhood to take away the heat”, as he proclaimed: “She will rot in jail.” November 7, 2016 I filed a petition for writ of habeas data before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to stop Duterte—who admitted to be listening in on my private conversations “with the help of another country”—from securing private details about my personal life and using them to degrade my dignity as a human being, a woman and a senator. To this day, the SC has yet to deliberate on this landmark petition which challenges presidential immunity from suit. December 9, 2016 A confidential memo from the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor)



legal office said that Justice Secretary Aguirre allowed the eight highprofile inmates who testified against me during the House inquiry to live in luxury while detained in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Custodial Center. The special privileges reportedly granted by Aguirre to the inmates include access to electronic gadgets, air-conditioning units, cell phones, smart television sets, and Internet. December 2016 After a successful and sinister demolition of my public image, three criminal complaints for illegal drug trading were filed against me with the Department of Justice (DOJ), led by Aguirre’s cohorts using the same so-called evidence presented in the congressional hearings. February 17, 2017 The DOJ filed three criminal complaints against me before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) for my alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. February 23, 2017 Judge Juanita Guerrero of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 issued a warrant of arrest against me. February 24, 2017 After spending the night at the Senate, I presented myself to arresting authorities in the morning. I was eventually taken to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City where I remain detained to this day. The three separate drug charges filed against me were in addition to the other slew of harassment cases I have been facing—from electoral protest, charges of financing terrorism, disobedience to summons case, disbarment and ethics complaints. While more arrest warrants were issued against me, judges one after the other inhibited themselves from handling my cases. May 29, 2017 The Senate Minority filed Resolution No. 391, expressing support for my request to vote on major legislations.



It remains pending at the Senate Committee on Rules. July 22, 2017 Despite complying with the administrative processes of the custodial center, Liberal International (LI) President Juli Minoves was barred from visiting me in detention. September 18, 2017 Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 rejected my request to participate in the Senate hearings on the drug war. September 19, 2017 Tian Chua and Charles Santiago, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) officers from the Malaysian Parliament, along with fellow APHR members Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr. and Rep. Tom Villarin were barred from visiting me despite having complied with the 10-day prior notice of the police custodial center. The Senate Minority also filed Resolution No. 505, requesting that I be allowed to participate in sessions and other Senate functions. It remains pending at the Senate Committee on Rules. October 10, 2017 About eight months into my detention, my plea for freedom, in a 9-6 vote, was denied by the Supreme Court (SC). October 20, 2017 The Department of Justice (DOJ) Panel of Prosecutors asked the court to have their original charge of illegal drug trading against me be “amended” to mere conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading. DOJ’s confusion as to what exactly is it their charging me is further proof of the fakery of the cases it filed against me. Aside from relying solely on the conflicting testimonies of unqualified witnesses, they used no material evidence whatsoever—no drugs confiscated, no money trail—to serve as proof. November 3, 2018 In response to the Supreme Court’s (SC) dismissal of my petition to



nullify my arrest, my legal team filed my Motion for Reconsideration (MR). November 11, 2017 Enrique Guerrero Salom, Norbert Hans Neuser, Paolo Alberti—from the Global Progressive Forum (GPF)—were prevented from visiting me in my detention cell at the police headquarters. December 10, 2017 Phillippa Erica Dargan of Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) based in Sydney, Australia and Rosslyn Joy Noonan of NZ Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy & Practice, Faculty of Law Auckland University, New Zealand were denied visit to me despite complying with the requirements for prison visit. April 17, 2018 The Supreme Court (SC), 9-5, denied with finality my Motion for Reconsideration (MR), saying that no new substantial issues were raised. On the contrary, my legal team raised new substantial issues, in particular and most especially, was this argument: Since a majority of the members of the Court itself cannot agree on the nature of the criminal charges, it can only mean that there is no valid Information to sustain my arrest and detention. Out of the nine (9) SC justices who voted against me, five (5) said the charges were drug trading, three (3) said the charges were conspiracy to commit drug trading, while the other one (1) was ambivalent on what the actual charges were. As such, it is very unfair for me to remain in pre-trial detention when even the majority of the justices could not agree among themselves what I am being accused of. May 25, 2018 Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 denied my furlough request to attend my son’s graduation in law school. As a mother who wanted to be with my son for this milestone, the denial has brought me to tears. All that I asked for was “to be accorded with the same humanitarian consideration that was shown to other high-profile



detainees.” Previously, former senators detained on plunder charges were allowed to attend their children’s graduation and their father’s birthday celebration, etc. July 11, 2018 The request of Senate President Vicente Sotto III—who visited me earlier in detention—to allow me to conduct hearings inside Camp Crame as Chair of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, was denied by Police Director General Oscar Albayalde. Albayalde said they could not grant Sotto’s request considering my status as “detention prisoner” whose rights to exercise profession and hold public office were restricted. July 28, 2018 Kiat Sittheeamorn and Rachada Dhnadirek from the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) were denied their request to visit me in detention. August 7, 2018 The Supreme Court (SC) denied my plea to appear and orally argue for my petition against the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).



The World is Watching (Below is a list of international organizations or personalities who have expressed support for me and have called for my release. Some have also recognized me with awards and citation for my efforts as a human rights defender.)

• European Parliament (EP) • Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) • ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) • Liberal International (LI) • Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) • Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) • Progressive Alliance • Amnesty International (AI) • Human Rights Watch (HRW) • International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) • Global Commission on Drug Policy • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) • International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) • Socialdemokraterna (Sweden’s Social Democratic Party) • International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) • Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD) • Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS • International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) • Asia Catalyst • US Senator Edward J. Markey • Global Progressive Forum (GPF) • Foreign Policy • TIME Magazine • Asian Correspondent • The Diplomat • Fortune Magazine



Ultimately, the Members of the Honorable Court must realize that this case goes beyond the freedom of a single citizen who has been singled out by the President of the Republic whose attacks against her and what she stands for continue unabated. It is about the quality of our democracy, the value of the Bill of Rights, and the stability of our institutions.

-Leila de Lima

As local and international groups rally for her immediate and unconditional release, Senator Leila M. de Lima was awarded the Prize for Freedom in 2018, becoming the second Filipino—after President Corazon Aquino in 1987—to receive this distinct honor from the Liberal International. Despite being jailed since February 24, 2017 for false drug charges and without any material evidence, the “Prisoner of Conscience” remains a vocal critic of the Duterte administration’s anti-democratic and anti-poor policies, especially in its murderous war on drugs. The political persecution being endured by De Lima has only made her stronger, gaining support and recognition even from behind bars. Amnesty International gave the Senator the “Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender” award in 2018. De Lima was also named one of the “50 Greatest Leaders” in the world in 2018 by Fortune magazine. She was also in TIME’s list of “100 Most Influential People” in 2017 “for speaking truth to power”. Foreign Policy, meanwhile, included the Senator among its “Leading Global Thinkers” for two years in a row beginning in 2016 “for standing up to an extremist leader”. Calling De Lima “the flagbearer of human rights in the Philippines and beyond”, Asian Correspondent recognized the Senator as among the “Power Women” in Southeast Asia. She is also one of the “Women to Watch” in the region according to The Diplomat. Before becoming Senator on her first electoral run, De Lima served as Justice Secretary and Commission on Human Rights Chair. Her decade-long public service is marked by her advocacy to uphold social justice, democracy, accountability, human rights and human dignity

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