IN addition to being on the frying pan for imminent arrest, Senator Leila de Lima has so many ambitious political projects, I think I could be accused of partisanship if I do not take note of her crusade. So here goes.
The senator’s latest undertakings are intriguing, even epic in scope.
First, she has asked the Cabinet of President Duterte to declare him unfit to serve as President, and exercise an obscure provision in the Constitution to replace him.
Second, she is calling on the Filipino people to oust DU30 as President through people power, a mass action made fresh by the fact that the country will be marking the 31st anniversary of the revolt at EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) that brought down the government of President Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986.
Third, De Lima is selling herself as a victim, the first political prisoner of the Duterte government. She warns of her becoming a victim of extra-judicial killing once she is jailed.
Knowing our recent history and the dysfunctions of our public life, I can see how some people and groups might find these projects worthy of study or even support.
But with De Lima as proponent, what chances do they have of ever getting off the ground?
Alas, the chances are zilch. De Lima will more likely dissuade, rather than inspire, people to undertake these projects.
Her brand is scandal
No matter how many adjectives she loads on her Duterte brief (“sociopath serial killer,” “mentally unfit,” etc.) and her credentials (“she is not alone”), the projects will flounder from the sheer weight of her orotund and shaky reputation.
De Lima is an unusual politician who makes Filipinos squirm, because of the way she has packed into her career scandal, controversy, corruption, and abuse of power.
People remember her for a litany of headline-grabbing transgressions: 1) her adulterous affairs with subordinates and aides while serving as justice secretary, which were exposed in a congressional inquiry; 2) her alleged coddling of the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary and her alleged acceptance of bribes from drug lords, in order to finance her Senate campaign; 3) her implementation of a policy of selective justice against political opponents of former President Benigno Aquino III; and 4)her abuse of the powers of the justice secretary to enforce the detention of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the bidding of Aquino.
Few people in public office have attracted scandal so relentlessly as De Lima has. It is as if her brand is scandal. not public service.
Trillanes as partner in notoriety
De Lima is lucky that Senator Antonio Trillanes is serving in the Senate at the same time that she does. Otherwise, she will be attracting all the negativity all by herself. The former coup-plotter turned senator is a magnet for brickbats.
While De lima hurls the political bombs against DU30, Trillanes moves behind the scenes to recruit officers and soldiers who will join the planned coup.
Last Sunday, at a gathering of relatives and friends, our conversation drifted to the subject of Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes. One of us asked the group: who will get your vote, if you have to choose between them? Who is more wicked and embarrassing? Everyone thought it is cruel and barbarous to be made to choose between them.
To my surprise, many of the women do not like Leila one bit; they have no sympathy for her ordeal; they feel she should suffer what former President Arroyo endured in detention.
With respect to Trillanes, and his demand that President Duterte disclose his bank account, everyone is repelled by him. The consensus feeling is that people will remember “sundalong kanin” (rice soldier) more than they will remember DU30’s alleged P2-billion deposits.
The entire group felt that the Senate would be better off without the two senators. The public will be happiest, if they are both thrown in jail, starting with De Lima, who is facing charges in court.
What about their joint effort to get Edgar Matobato and Arthur Lascañas to testify about the Davao Death Squad (DDS) and against Duterte in the Senate? Is this not public service?
Most in the gathering believe that the Lascañas’ retraction was timed to forestall De Lima’s imminent arrest and incarceration. She is desperate. How much did De Lima and Trillanes bribe the police officer to retract his earlier testimony in the Senate?
Many believe this is all part of the Yellow fantasy/conspiracy to organize the public and the military to stage a people power revolt on February 25 to topple Duterte.
The Yellows are indignant that the EDSA commemoration has gone indoors to Camp Aguinaldo.
The idea of calling on the cabinet to force Duterte out of office is based on a constitutional provision that empowers a majority of the Cabinet to force the President to step down by ruling that he is mentally incapacitated.
The Yellows tried this scheme during the administration of President Arroyo. The so-called Hyatt 10 tried to stage a “constitutional coup” by demanding Arroyo’s resignation and tendering their resignation. This was squarely blunted. Arroyo fired them all.
People power in parody?
Leaders, it has been said, are lucky or unlucky depending on the kind of enemies and opponents they generate during their time of rule.
I cannot judge yet whether DU30 is fortunate to have the kind of opponents he has today. Sometimes, I think he is lucky to have the Liberals and the Aquinos as the principal force opposing him. Their confusion almost looks like support.
With De Lima and Trillanes as the top strategists of destabilization, DU30 might laugh.
The Catholic laity may be something else. Having the Catholic bishops and the parishes arrayed against the President can hardly be a blessing.
The Yellow movement made a strategic mistake in adopting De Lima as its spearhead and moving force. Did anyone hear her call for the people to revolt? Did the Duterte Cabinet even notice their opportunity?
Methinks EDSA will be recalled in parody instead of recreated on Saturday.