Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Monday blasted Communications Secretary Martin Andanar for calling the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) a bully following its decision to send a trial observer to monitor her cases.
She said the IPU earned the ire of “Andanar and his minions” who characterized the move as bullying and meddling in the country’s judicial and democratic processes.
“This conclusion once again reveals Andanar’s utter ignorance and sheer arrogance,” said De Lima, who has been detained at the PNP Custodian Center in Camp Crame over drug charges.
De Lima said the IPU was not a bully but a neutral third party that wants to make sure the that the legal proceedings in the trumped-up cases against her are safe from the “machinations of Duterte and his minions, the real bullies.”
She added that the designation of a trial observer forms part and parcel of the accused and the public’s right to speedy, impartial and public trial.
She said that a trial observation can be a crucial tool in efforts to defend human rights and the primacy of the rule of law.
“The right to observe stems from the general right to promote and secure the protection and realization of human rights. A trial observer is therefore part of our democratic and judicial processes.”
She said that a “bully” is a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker, adding that in the balance of power relations and of control over the state apparatus of terror and violence, it is Duterte and his cohorts who have the monopoly.
She argued that with the Duterte administration’s consistent and persistent pronouncements and public demeanor that enable a climate of disorientation, despotism and death, the bully is definitely not the IPU, not the democratic opposition, not the media, and not the growing numbers of Filipinos and various local and international groups clamoring for the restoration of decency in government, democracy in society, and dignity of the Filipino.
She said the deaths had been translated into more than 13,000 EJKs, persecution and vilification of dissenters, narrowing of democratic spaces, and widespread fake news),
“And, if we may further engage Andanar in his “IPU as bully” line, we can add that the decision of that global organization of 176 parliaments to send a trial observer was arrived at after a painstaking and thorough gathering of evidence and a fact-finding mission to the Philippines.”
Before adjourning in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation last Oct. 18, the IPU General Assembly, which was attended by Philippine senators led by Senate President Aquilino “Koko”Pimentel III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, adopted the Human Rights Committee’s report and recommendation for IPU to send a trial observer to monitor the case of detained Senator Leila de Lima.
In its 16-page report last July 27, the IPU also expressed grave concern over the trumped-up charges hurled against De Lima which it said were based on dubious evidence and overreliance on testimonies of convicted drug inmates.
“In each of the three cases, there are serious questions and doubts about the evidence. There are general concerns about the overreliance on testimonies by convicted drug lords, not only because they are proven criminals but because these individuals have an axe to grind with Senator de Lima,” the report said.
It also called on Pimentel to take up the cudgels for Sen. De Lima to ensure that her rights are not violated as she faces trumped-up charges levelled against her.
“The Senate has a special responsibility to help ensure that concerns about due process regarding one of its members are effectively addressed. The delegation therefore calls on the Senate, through its President, to do everything possible in this regard and thus help ensure that Senator de Lima can participate again in its work as soon as possible,” it added.
De Lima was accused of receiving drug money from convicted drug lords detained at the New Bilibid Prisons (NPB) in Camp Crame to bankroll her senatorial campaign for the May 2016 elections.
The IPU representatives were tasked to monitor De Lima’s legal proceedings as it reiterated its call to release the senator from detention.