Watching another one of Philippine Senator Leila De Lima’s press conferences where she goes hysterical and spews conspiracy theories about President Rodrigo Duterte made me realise that freedom of speech is being abused by a lot of Filipinos. Those who enjoy the privilege of venting their frustration against the President like De Lima are the same people who keep insinuating that Philippine democracy is under attack. The irony of what they are saying and doing escapes them.
Indeed, there is a lot of talking in the Philippines but not enough thinking. People like De Lima certainly don’t think before talking. If they did, they wouldn’t be saying half or most of the things that comes out of their mouth. Granted, one can say that Duterte is guilty of talking too much as well, but you can’t deny that he manages to work even when he goes on a tirade against the people who annoy him. One cannot say the same about his critics, like De Lima. The senator complains about not being able to do her job as a senator anymore due to what she thinks is incessant attack against her by the Duterte government. She blames other people for her inability to prioritise her work. She spends a lot of her time talking to the media and going on speaking engagements at forums organised by schools and the Catholic Church instead of working.
Frankly, mainstream media should already do a media blackout on De Lima. Her presence in the news is already starting to make some people sick. She seems to be all over the place. She has become the most photographed woman in the Philippines. Media photographers follow her every move. She seems to be enjoying the attention despite the predicament she is in. I don’t really understand why media organisations keep giving her the opportunity to talk about her “innocence”. She doesn’t even address the allegations directly. It’s hard to understand her point because she is shouting all the time. She appeals to Duterte to stop attacking her even though Duterte hasn’t spoken about her to the media for weeks. De Lima is the one who is attacking Duterte relentlessly.
Hopefully, once the cases against her are already in court, she will be compelled to stop talking to avoid jeopardising them. Unless of course she is really that stubborn that she is willing to ignore one of the most basic rules in winning court cases.
De Lima seems to have found an ally in the Catholic Church. They recently invited her to speak after a mass at the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) headquarters. After living what seems like a hedonistic lifestyle, De Lima has become a daughter of the Catholic Church. It must be a miracle. We can believe it if De Lima shows more humility in the coming days. But we shouldn’t hold our breaths. The Catholic Church and De Lima’s alliance seems to have been born out of both being butthurt over Duterte’s tirade against them. Duterte has spoken out against the Church a few times in the past for their hypocrisy. Now the priests have decided to make De Lima their advocate of “human rights”.
De Lima is the last person who should talk about human rights because of her track record of disregarding the rights of others. She says she is a defender of the Constitution forgetting the fact that she denied former President Gloria Arroyo’s right to travel overseas and right to presumption of innocence. After that, she also ignored the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court allowing Arroyo to travel. I don’t know how she was not disbarred after that, I am guessing it was due to patronage politics, but just because she got away with breaking the law with impunity doesn’t mean the people have forgotten about it.
Speaking of human rights, in her new bill the “Anti-Extrajudicial Killing of 2016” she is proposing requiring the police to issue a warning before arresting a suspect by announcing the same through a megaphone. Some are saying that her proposal just proves that she is more concerned about criminals getting away and less concerned about the safety of the police officers who could get harmed once the suspects get the chance to get armed or prepare to retaliate.
De Lima’s new bill that seems to be favourable to the criminals could explain why the crime rate was high during her stint as Department of Justice Secretary. The figures show it too:
》CRIME RATE up by 350% (2010 to 2014):
¤ 2010 : 324,083
¤ 2014 : 1,160,000
De Lima should be careful about the way she attacks Duterte. She could be starting to incite sedition. She warns that Duterte wants to set up a revolutionary government that would do away with Congress. She is getting paranoid and reckless with her words. She doesn’t realise that she could scare investors and promote discord in Philippine society. With senators like her, the public may even be happy for Duterte to get rid of them. She is proving to be useless as a senator. She has accomplished nothing but promote disunity and fear in Philippine society since she became a senator. If she’s not guilty of the allegations she played a role in the illegal drug trade inside the nation’s penitentiary, the New Bilibid Prison, then she is guilty of destabilising the country. That should definitely be punishable by imprisonment.
[Photo courtesy GMA News Online.]