I have stood against the slut-shaming of Senator Leila De Lima, against bringing in her personal life, judging her for her romantic relationship(s), making jokes out of it, in relation to the war on drugs and her alleged complicity in the drug business.
I do think President Duterte need not stoop so low to the point that we put her down for her being a woman – because that’s what slut-shaming is. If there is enough information to prove her guilt, then there is enough to talk about without involving her personal romantic relations, plain and simple. As it is, including those kinds of personal attacks just makes it seem like there isn’t enough to pin her down in relation to this case.
Yet listening to the proceedings in Congress, and especially to Police Director Benjamin Magalong of the CIDG speaking about his professional engagement with then Secretary of Justice De Lima, tells me there is in fact enough. If anything, there is enough of a story here to put Senator De Lima on the defensive, if not on an all-out war against President Duterte.
Which is why I don’t understand how people can say this is not about De Lima VS Duterte. Of course it is. And this was started by De Lima herself.
The Justice secretary
De Lima started the all-out war against then Mayor Duterte of Davao a year before the May 2016 elections when she called out the mayor’s admission of being the Davao Death Squad. That admission is on YouTube. It is well-documented, and as then Justice Secretary, De Lima asserted her moral high ground as she needed to, and as expected. In May 2015, she was on a rampage.
From Interaksyon.com: “I find those statements annoying and disturbing. Here we have a public figure boldly making those kinds of statements. I really find Mayor Duterte’s approach reprehensible.”
From GMANetwork.com: “Ano bang klaseng mga statements iyan? A public servant, one who is very popular right now like Mayor Duterte and idolized by many, and yet, he makes those statements! Iyong iba sa atin, natutuwa pa, lalong ina-idolize si Mayor Duterte. But, is that right? Hindi po tama iyon.”
This last bit was telling: the idolatry was something people feared about Mayor Duterte running for president – I think we all knew it could win him the presidency. To have the Justice secretary scolding the public about who they were idolizing may have been the wrong call, seeing as it became obvious that this was not going to go through “due process” but was really about making sure that the mayor’s presidential bid would be ruined before it even started.
Of course De Lima can say there was due process, as there was in fact an NBI investigation into the DDS at that time.
“I really don’t know <if Duterte will end up being charged>. I’m not saying this because there is an election… because he’s a possible presidentiable. I’m just being consistent, as a former Human Rights Commissioner. This is simply unacceptable.” (GMANetwork.com, May 2015)
That uncertainty about the DDS investigation, coupled with her articulations against Duterte, just made it seem like she was not merely speaking as justice secretary but also as a member of the Liberal Party – afraid of Duterte running for president. She was not speaking objectively and clearly about the NBI investigation, and instead would re-focus her attention on the public that was pushing the mayor to run for president.
De Lima herself was hitting on the personal.
And Mayor Duterte knew it. In fact, he was also working with the bigger picture of the 2016 elections in mind, the role De Lima would play in it, and what this word war would lead to.
In May 2015, the Mayor said: “‘Yang si De Lima nagpapaek-ek lang ‘yan, e gustong tumakbo ‘yan ng senador, then I said you file a case against me. You started it when you were the human rights chairman. You file the case, make yourself as the complainant and I will place you in the witness stand as I will also answer everything, but I want you there to ask you about your professional and personal dealings.” (Philstar.com)
That same month, the-mayor-who-would-be-president also put into question the credibility of the-Justice-secretary-who-would-be-senator.
“You accuse me of extrajudicial killing, which is criminal, but look at your own backyard, especially Muntinlupa. By culpable neglect, many were able to sneak in, you did not do anything. You raided only now, you built Hilton Hotel right in Muntinlupa, you allowed it, look at your own backyard. A more serious crime is committed every day. Prisoners going in and out of prison, doing kidnapping and hold-ups outside. Women, drugs, being allowed inside, and you have the gall to accuse me of extrajudicial killings of criminals?
“You fatten them. Your penal colony guard selling shabu with prisoners outside, what’s happening to the country? I’m the only local official talking against drugs and you have the gall to say I’m killing the criminals, while you fatten them in and out of prison. What are you doing to the criminals in this country? Answer me.” (Inquirer.net, 28 May 2015)
This was long before the decision was made for Mayor Duterte to run for president. That it resonates in the present is telling, isn’t it?
It is said that this is not about De Lima versus Duterte, but about justice.
But justice – across the board – will only be had if we find out the truth, across all these witnesses given the Senate inquiry and the Congress investigation.
Certainly the current extrajudicial killings must be discussed, and the perpetrators brought to justice, whoever they are. President Duterte must push for this as much as he has pushed this drug war. It is a by-product of this war, and it is this government’s responsibility to look into these killings.
But in that light, it makes no sense that Senator De Lima brought Matobato into the picture at this point in time, speaking as he does solely and only about the DDS in Davao, and not at all telling us anything about the current landscape of killings. That disconnect is part of the senator’s undoing, and it is all her fault.
That Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is doing his job and actually working on proving President Duterte’s assertions in May 2015 about then Justice Secretary De Lima, was the logical next step in this she-said-he-said episode that started a year before the May 2016 elections.
That this was started by De Lima herself, that the tenor of the discussion was dictated by her, and that now she feels that she is being singled out and victimized – well, that’s how the ball has rolled.
The fact is her tone was just as arrogant, her arguments just as flawed, and she was also hitting below the belt against Mayor Duterte, throughout much of the campaign. She spoke with confidence against this man, questioned his credibility, ruined him for all that he said and all that he had purportedly done. She was a woman on a roll.
She was a woman confident that her president, Mar Roxas, would win.
In May 2015, Mayor Duterte had said of De Lima’s criticism against him: “It’s because of her political ambition. Well, run and the Filipino people will get to know you more as the barking dog of the Aquino administration.” (ManilaTimes.net)
Now that bark has lost all its bite.