By Raymund Antonio
The detention of Senator Leila de Lima shows the “sad state” of the country’s justice system, said Vice President Leni Robredo, as De Lima marked her second year in jail Sunday, February 24.
Robredo, a lawyer, scored De Lima’s second year in detention for drug charges despite the “glaring absence of physical evidence, and on the mere say-so of convicted drug dealers.”
“It both captures and mirrors the frustration of thousands of Filipinos, particularly those bereft of wealth or privilege, whose lives, freedom, and meager fortunes are ground down by a justice system that turns both slowly and erratically, and whose obscure movements seem only too pliant to those with power,” she said.
It was exactly two years when De Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade, and has been detained in Camp Crame.
The Vice President said both Philippine and international legal experts regarded De Lima’s detention as “politically motivated” and “arbitrary.”
She noted the report of United Nations special rapporteur Michael Forst on the situation of woman human rights defenders in the Philippines who are under threat like De Lima.
Robredo then called for justice not only for De Lima, but to Filipinos as well.
“Both have fallen victim to a legal system that is, at times, seemingly no longer governed by firm rules and impartial magistrates, but one that appears alarmingly susceptible to political and economic influence,” she said.
“In the end, this is the bigger challenge that we must address, not just for Senator Leila, but for our people,” Robredo stressed.
A fellow Bicolano, the Vice President praised the embattled lady senator, describing her as an inspiration to Filipinos.
“Your strength and dauntless courage in the face of these personal trials are an inspiration to us all. They may do all in their power to keep you in prison, but your indomitable spirit shall ever be free,” she said.
Robredo told De Lima to “stay strong” as she believed the detained senator will be vindicated soon for sacrificing her own freedom.