By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s remark that the five American senators were “misinformed” when they called on the Duterte administration to release her was absurd.
De Lima maintained that she was illegally detained over politically-motivated charges for speaking out against the government’s twisted policies.
“Secretary Guevarra might have been hiding under a rock for a good part in the early months of this administration to be unaware of the daily character assassination, slut-shaming, and trial by publicity that Duterte and his officials subjected me to, but definitely the US Senators were not,” de Lima said in her latest statement.
The detained lawmaker said she is confident that this latest set of US lawmakers calling for her immediate release are better informed than the DOJ secretary about her cases.
She also said the US senators were also apparently “neither pushovers nor lacking in intelligence or discernment.”
“These Senators know, while Guevarra apparently did not, that the whole government machinery, first and foremost the House of Representatives and the DOJ, was mobilized by his boss to malign my reputation and fabricate criminal charges against me on the basis of the statements of convicted criminals and other perjured witnesses,” said de Lima, herself a former DoJ Secretary.
Guevarra recently claimed that the five US senators who filed a bipartisan resolution, logged as Senate Resolution 142, calling for, among others, the immediate release of De Lima from unjust detention, were “fed with wrong information.”
The said resolution was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio and Edward J. Markey and supported by Senators Richard Durbin, Marsha Blackburn, and Chris Coons.
De Lima also criticized Guevarra for continuing the legal persecution against his predecessor, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, had started. Aguirre, she said, illegally used 13 convicted felons as state witnesses in the drug trade cases against her.
“No self-respecting DOJ Secretary would allow criminal convicts to be under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program as state witnesses,” de Lima said.
“ The fact that Guevarra did means that he either has not familiarized himself with my cases, or that he himself has chosen to take part in my persecution by continuing the trial of my cases despite the clear violation of the WPP Law on the use of disqualified criminal convicts as state witnesses,” she said.
“That the DOJ has railroaded the cases against me from day one of the preliminary investigation up to the trial with the utilization of disqualified criminal convicts as state witnesses, instead of filing cases against them as the admitted drug lords in the Bilibid drug trade, and the filing of a patently defective Information (both the original and the amended), are palpable proofs of the targeted legal persecution of dissenters under the Duterte Administration,” she added.
Last year, De Lima filed with the Office of the Ombudsman administrative and criminal complaints against Aguirre and Guevarra for illegally admitting and continuing the unlawful admission, respectively, of 13 convicted felons as state witnesses against her.
De Lima charged Guevarra with gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct for continuing the failure of the DOJ to prosecute the convicts despite their public admission of their links in the illegal drug trading inside the New Bilibid Prison.
“It is high time Guevarra comes out of the rock he is hiding under, lest he becomes just another one of the maggots of a rotting administration, a legacy he certainly would not wish upon himself,” said the senator.
She pointed out that under Section 10 (f) of RA 6981, criminal convicts previously convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude — such as murder and illegal drug trading — are disqualified from becoming state witnesses.
Earlier, de Lima expressed her disappointment over the refusal by some of her Senate colleagues to recognize the global consensus about her unjust detention and political persecution she is subjected to under the current regime.
De Lima also chided Senate President Vicente Sotto III for falsely comparing her case to that of former senators and detainees who were all charged of pocketing pork barrel funds, notably, Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada.
“I’m disappointed that SP Sotto doesn’t seem to get the point,” she also said in a separate dispatch.
“Those US lawmakers, just like the many other parliamentarians [w]ho earlier issued separate statements expressing concern about my continued detention and called for my release, only choose or dare to act in solidarity with, and fight for the causes, of those they regard as true victims of injustice and political persecution,” she said.
De Lima said Sotto, and her other colleagues in the Senate, must remember that her case was way different from that of the three senators.