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FLAG lawyer: De Lima will be first political detainee under Duterte

Published February 23, 2017 8:01pm

Human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno said the looming arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima will make her the first political prisoner under the present administration.

Diokno is De Lima’s primary legal counsel for the petition she filed before the Supreme Court asking for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against President Rodrigo Duterte over his alleged harassment and threats against her.

Hours after an arrest warrant was issued against the senator over one of the three drug cases filed against her, Diokno told reporters he had “congratulated” De Lima on this beforehand.

“I told her that in that sense, she should be proud that she’s the first political detainee under this administration,” he said.

Diokno, one of the veteran human rights lawyers at the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), noted that the handling of De Lima’s case has been unusual.

“If you look at how the case unfolded, it is not the typical case where the police gathered evidence… You have a situation that because of the House inquiry, evidence was produced, but there’s a lot of questions about how that evidence came into being,” he said.

“Here you have as main witnesses people who are admittedly criminals, [those from the] national penitentiary. And in my experience as a lawyer, those kinds of witnesses are the least that we would want to believe,” he added.

Shocking warrant

Diokno said he was “shocked” by the news that an arrest warrant has been issued against the senator “because in my understanding, a hearing is set for tomorrow.”

“Hindi pa naman sana kailangan issue-han ng warrant because under the rules, the judge would have ten days from the filing of the information to decide whether to issue the warrant or not,” he added.

Asked for possible remedies here, Diokno said he is “sure the issuance of the warrant would be questioned,” either by motion for reconsideration or to lift the warrant of arrest.”

However, he noted: “In the meantime, while the warrant is there, she has no choice but to adhere to it.”

‘Chilling effect’

Asked about the looming arrest’s possible effect, Diokno said it may either impose fear or inspire critics of the administration.

“I’m sure it will have a chilling effect. I think that some people may be more reluctant to voice out their opinions after the arrest,” he said. “But it may also spur the people to gain courage and to start speaking up.”

“If the senator of the Republic can be arrested just like that, all of our rights are in jeopardy,” he added. —JST, GMA News

- See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/600803/news/nation/flag-lawyer-de-lima-will-be-first-political-detainee-under-duterte#sthash.VHmgL3X3.dpuf

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