Published February 20, 2017 3:40pm
By ROSE-AN JESSICA DIOQUINO, GMA News
The seeming “political persecution” of Sen. Leila de Lima may have a “chilling effect” on those who oppose the policies of the administration, Vice President Leni Robredo said Monday.
Robredo made the comment amid the possibility that De Lima will be arrested over three drug cases filed by the Department of Justice against her, in connection with her alleged participation in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.
The cases were raffled off to three judges at Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court on Monday morning.
Robredo reiterated her concerns that such move would scare off those who are critical of the administration’s policies.
“Nakakabahala kasi lumalabas na parang political persecution siya. Kung ganito kasi, para na nating isinasantabi ang rule of law,” the Vice President said in an interview in Cagayan de Oro City.
“Baka magkaroon ito ng chilling effect sa mga taong ‘di sang-ayon sa polisiya ng gobyerno. Sana kung mayroong accusations laban sa kaniya, iyong due process i-afford sa kaniya,” she added.
Robredo—the current interim chairman of the Liberal Party where De Lima is a member—reiterated that the senator should face the accusations over her alleged involvement in the drug trade.
She maintained, however, that such must be done at a proper forum.
“Ang sa atin naman kung nagkasala, imbestigahan pero siguruhin na ang tamang proseso pagdaanan,” she said. “Pero kung wala pang kaso may judgment na, ano iyong assurance natin na she will be afforded the due process of law?”
A vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and the spate of killings brought about by his war against illegal drugs, De Lima has repeatedly denied involvement in the illegal drug trade, and dismissed accusations that drug money was used to fund her senatorial bid.
De Lima’s Senate colleagues from LP have come to her defense, saying the filing of charges against her were “illegal” since the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over alleged wrongdoing during her time as Justice secretary.
Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao echoed this in a separate statement, saying the charges were politically motivated.
Bag-ao called on the DOJ to respect the Constitution and not turn into the “Department of Political Retribution.”
“Sa simula pa lang ay malinaw na na pulitikal ang motibo sa pagdidiin kay Senador Leila de Lima—mula pa lang sa pinagsampahan ng kaso, isang regional trial court, hanggang sa paggamit ng mga testigong hindi bakas ang integridad upang magsabi ng katotohanan,” she said.
“Kung sinsero ang pakay nila para sa katarungan, dapat sa tamang korte sila sumangguni—ang Sandiganbayan. Kung talagang totoo sila sa paghahanap ng hustisya, maghanap sila ng mga mas paniniwalaan bilang saksi, hindi iyong mga kriminal na nagpapakasarap pa rin sa buhay sa loob ng kulungan. Nakita na rin naman natin noon kung gaano kakulang ang kanilang talento sa pagbabasa ng script sa mga pagdinig ng Kongreso,” she added. — RSJ, GMA News
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