“Drop charges against de Lima” says HRW but why?

The Philippines “should immediately drop politically motivated charges” against de Lima, said the Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its news release published on 18 February 2017.

Sen. Leila de Lima has kept on warning the public in the past days of her impending arrest following the drug-related charges. In her statement to the press, de Lima disparaged the charges pressed on her as politically maneuvered due to her being a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, especially on the issue of extrajudicial killing (EJK), attempting to silence her.

The news release of HRW bleeds profusely as to barely say the utter destruction of credibility HRW has been maintaining over the years. The call is sheer embarrassing. It politicizes the legitimate issue and the freaking call for justice not only for Sen. Leila de Lima but also for the Filipino people.

What happened to you, Sir Phelim Kine? What made you think to look at the allegation as synonymous with political vindictiveness?

De Lima as “drug lords’ protector”

"Drop charges against de Lima"—Human Rights Watch
Sen. Leila de Lima, the staunch critic of President Duterte. (Photo Credit: Senate of the Philippines)

De Lima, a former Philippine Human Rights Commission chairman, had been the vocal critic of then Davao Mayor Duterte. Now that Duterte became president, de Lima unsurprisingly continued her advocacy on condemning EJK, which was allegedly committed by President Duterte as his alleged involvement with the Davao Death Squad—allegedly “butchering” people, innocents, and those considered enemies alike with impunity.

Bold and daring, President Duterte overwhelmingly wants to end narco-politics in the country through his war on drugs campaign. Months later, Congress started a house inquiry in aid of legislation the involvement of the sitting senator Leila de Lima. De Lima was accused of drug trafficking in Bilibid and as drug lords’ protector.

During the inquiry, witnesses’ statements have identified de Lima as drug lords’ protector when she was the secretary of Justice in the Aquino administration.

Meanwhile, moved by Sen. Pacquiao the Senate expelled de Lima from her chairmanship of the committee that conducted an inquiry into EJK.

“Facing the music”

After months of “building the case,” President Duterte said de Lima is nearing “to face the music” as she will be arrested anytime soon.

The drug charges against de Lima are founded on witnesses’ testimonies and other complaints filed against her with the same drug charges that would find a probable cause.

Despite the long battle against EJK allegedly involving President Duterte, the drug charges against de Lima appear to be a legitimate issue of demeanor and commission of the crime so fitting to be pursued by the government. That is, to also convince the world that the Duterte administration is so serious with its war on drugs campaign. On the other hand, this may likely put de Lima on the pedestal of the human rights abuses campaign.


Whether the world may see the charges against de Lima as politically motivated, both ends gain publicity. The de Lima issue as a vocal critic of Duterte does not hold water or even convincing enough for the HRW to claim as if a victim of the state’s abuse of power to silence those critical entities. Nor does it make Duterte and his government clear of political vindictiveness.

To claim Sen. de Lima as a political prisoner is an outright insult to the Philippine criminal justice system. And to call for dropping the drug charges against de Lima is an utter misconception of human rights and perversion of the very concept of justice. HRW should have been exercising restraint other than sweeping remarks. Until the charges against de Lima are not yet proven, she remains innocent of the accusations even if the warrant of arrest is served. Who knows it is in this beauty of her career in Philippine politics that her political gemstones will be tested and polished to shine even more. ▲


Leave a Reply