The real score in the De Lima-Trillanes show

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Ricardo Saludo

AS Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV tell it, President Rodrigo Duterte is out to silence the former with trumped-up charges, and evade accusations of illicit wealth by denying the latter access to his and his family’s bank accounts.

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For his part, President Duterte asserts that Senator De Lima is evading justice for her involvement in drug trafficking at the New Bilibid Prisons, under her oversight as justice secretary. And Senator Trillanes is rehashing baseless claims of sleazy bank funds.

The good news is there are long-established ways to impartially verify what’s true and what’s false.

Senator Trillanes can file charges at the Office of the Ombudsman, backed by his alleged bank records. He can also use the findings of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, which the President has instructed to probe his accounts.

Now, it remains to be seen if he can get banks to set aside secrecy and validate his claimed documents. Any institution affirming the papers would face questions, if not sanctions, over the leaking of its depositors’ records.

For fairness, Trillanes can petition Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to recuse herself, being aunt to Duterte’s son-in-law. The OMB may decide, however, that charges against the President are not a priority, since he is immune from prosecution until he steps down in mid-2022.

As for investigations in aid of impeachment, Trillanes’s charges don’t qualify, since an official cannot be impeached for alleged offenses before he took office.

Which may be one reason the senator is going to media. The other reason, critics contend, is his real wish for grandstanding, to erode support for the administration and project himself as graftbuster.

Whatever his motives, impartial media and informed Filipinos might not indulge Senator Trillanes. Indeed, many wonder why President Duterte bothers to publicly joust with him, gifting him the publicity he craves. But then, Digong isn’t one to back down from a fight, especially one over not just his integrity, but his family honor.

The wheels of justice and injustice
For her part, De Lima has stirred public and media anticipation for her arrest, calling herself Duterte’s first political prisoner. But it is a judge whom Senator De Lima must win over in three drug-trafficking charges filed at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court by the Department of Justice she once headed.

Her supporters complain that she cannot obtain justice under this administration. And she has constantly portrayed herself as an innocent victim of political persecution for denouncing killings in Duterte’s anti-drug war.

The cases may take years, when she may be incarcerated, since the charges are non-bailable if evidence is strong. Fortunately for her, the Muntinlupa court, not the DOJ, will decide if the prosecution’s material warrants trial, first of all, and whether there is strong evidence of guilt, for which bail may be denied.

Jail sans bail may cramp De Lima’s advocacy, but that is no big loss for the campaign against EJKs. There are more influential entities taking up this righteous cause, like the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, foreign business chambers, and the United Nations. These entities are not seen as partisan or in cahoots with narco-syndicates.

Now, if the CBCP, global business, and the UN can’t budge the government on the killings, neither can De Lima. So, allowing the wheels of justice to turn for or against her won’t derail anti-EJK protests. But letting her off the hook just to keep her talking against killings would be unjust, unlawful, and immoral.

De Lima fears what Arroyo suffered
What about the courts? Won’t judges buckle under presidential pressure and rush to convict her?

De Lima also fears she may be killed in detention, just like accused drug trafficker and murdered Albuera, Leyte, mayor Rolando Espinosa.

Those fears are real, judging from what happened in the past regime.

In November 2011, days after then-Secretary De Lima disobeyed a Supreme Court order allowing former President Gloria Arroyo to go abroad for treatment, a Pasay judge issued within hours of receiving reams of charge documents, an arrest warrant and a hold-departure order against the hospitalized congresswoman.

That was after the Commission on Elections itself, under then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s former poll lawyer Sixto Brilliantes Jr., took just two days to order election sabotage charges against Arroyo, even if it had nil documents demonstrating electoral fraud in the 2007 senatorial race.

That absent documentation eventually led the judge to grant Arroyo bail. So did the dubious testimony of the lone witness in the case, who was promised immunity from prosecution for claiming he overheard Arroyo order vote cheating.

After Arroyo got bail in July 2012, Ombudsman Morales filed a plunder case over alleged misspending of intelligence funds at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office—even if OMB lawyers advised against the charge, since none of the accused got PCSO money. Plunder requires that offenders amass at least P50 million in illicit gains.

The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court denied bail, purportedly after Aquino called the judges. It ordered the trial to proceed, arguing that there could be plunder even if no one got state funds illegally. That ruling contravened the plunder law itself. The court also detained Arroyo even after exonerating or granting bail to nearly all her co-accused.

No wonder the UN declared that her rights had been violated, and the Supreme Court ordered the case dismissed. She walked free last July.

Arroyo also faced the peril of death in detention. A misaligned titanium implant in her neck could cause food to be caught in her throat, stopping breathing.

Yet the Sandiganbayan refused to let her get corrective treatment abroad, as she rightly wanted after three unsuccessful operations by topnotch doctors at St. Luke’s Global Medical Center, one of the country’s leading hospitals.

So, judging from what happened to Representative Arroyo, Sen. De Lima could indeed suffer injustice in court and danger to her life in detention. But she won’t, because the President is Duterte, not Aquino.

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28 Comments

  1. Any institution affirming the papers would face questions, if not sanctions, over the leaking of its depositors’ records.
    —————————————-

    Since when ?

    As i understand it the Ombudsman got access to former Supreme court chief judge Corona’s account which was misrepresented by Ombudsman Morales to aid former president Aquino’s quest for a larger buyout of hacienda luisita.

    • Thank you for your comment, FYI.
      Just a point of fact: The Ombudsman’s access to the late Chief Justice Corona’s bank records was based on a stipulation in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth submitted by every public servant, giving the govt access to any information about him or her held by a govt agency, including the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
      That SALN provision does not cover private banks, which would be liable if they divulge depositor information and accounts without the client’s permission. Thank you.

  2. jose b. taganahan on

    I too believe that the three (3) RTC Judges will at least allow sex maniac Sen. de Lima to be freed on bail while the case is on going since the evidence is weak. It is even possible that one or two of the RTC Judges will quash the criminal case against de Lima for insufficiency of evidence as explained by Atty. Alex Padillia of FLAG in one of his interviews with ANC.

  3. “There are more influential entities taking up this righteous cause, like Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, foreign business chambers, and the United Nations. These entities are not seen as partisan or in cahoots with narco-syndicates.”

    CBCP and the UN non-partisan? You’re kidding, right? And you call it a righteous cause? ROFL!!!!

    • Thank you for your comment, Grace. You may wish to reread the portion you refer to.
      It did not say that the CBCP and the UN are non-partisan. It said: “These entities are not seen as partisan …” There’s a significant difference between being non-partisan and not be seen as partisan. Thank you again.

  4. AC-DC has never rested.

    Attack and Collect.
    Defend and Collect.

    AC-DC is everywhere. You read him, you hear him.

  5. I think the 3 judges will will not issue a warrant of arrest. Aguirre could not possibly prove that De Lima induced the convicts, who incidentally might go free if Aguirre succeeds in jailing De Lima, into committing their crimes since they were already doing good in the drug business inside the NBP while De Lima was still the no-nonsense human rights crusader as CHR Chief. Is that hard to understand?

    • Where were you when the lower house investigated the Bilibid drug trade? In the 3 sessions that took place,practically all the witnesses,even De Lima’s drivers and bodyguards all pointed to her as the lone coddler who benefited in the illegal drug trade that was going on inside and outside of the prisons.The senate also asked her driver/bodyguard/lover into the veracity of what he had said in the house of representatives pointing to De Lima.And he did confirm into the truthfulness of what he had stated.So who is not understanding what and who???…

    • Delima a no-nonsense head of CHR? Go back to grade school! Read the writing on the wall!

      She used her position, even as SOJ, to ignore the Supreme Court!

      Her track record as a woman is littered with the warm bodies of whoever took her fancy, married or unmarried. She sees herself as a Mata Hari, and uses her affected ‘accent’ and legalese to bully the less knowledgable in law.

      Abuse is her middle name and moral turpitude is the name of her game!

  6. Kumander Dondie on

    Its time to jail DELIMAW and TRILLANES! DELIMAW for being a drug protector which is non-bailable. Trillanes for Treason. That Sundalong Kanin has to go back to prison dahil duon siya nababagay hindi sa senado.

  7. If even the best of their doctors can’t effect a corrective surgery, then we all know that we have to avoid St. Luke Hospital. Hence, people shouls stop patronizing a hospital whose best doctors can not perform a corrective surgery.

  8. Trillanes & De Lima are partners from the yellows.. definitely there are more than these two (still unknown).

    Eventually De Lima’s kubol is waiting. Now she is worried about EJK.
    Why?….because she knows from the bottom of her mind she is culpable of all this wrong doings, starting when she was a CHR till become a fake SENATOR.

    100% she knows she will be killed also inside the prison. ( killed by own clan? ) become EJK.

    She is not stupid. If she knows how to drive, therefore she knows also her vehicle can not be drove anymore.

  9. I think, because of our culture when somebody cries, we will cry to as well even though we are just watching teleserye and we know very well that there is a director and scriptwriter. Second, some Filipinos are just mind boggling innate stupid and its embedded with them, Example, if somebody stole millions or billions, they just go to church, pray in public kissed the priest hands (no, they are not donating millions to the cura paroko, believed me, by the way, what is that famous line by Cardinal SIN? about the devil donating millions? that he does not care if that money comes from the Devil as long as the church gets it), we assumed that they (the Politicians) are innocent. Yet when somebody stole canned goods or rob a bus because his wife is in the Hospital giving birth to a baby and they dont have money because they did not used condom because it is a mortal sin, then that guy will surely go to Prison. You see the problem in the Philippines is this: Corruption of Politics and the joy deprived prelates who are in the dogma of middle ages and their hormones are whack and confused because the church that they served are in turmoil and their prolific habit of interfering with the Political system so that others will see them as relevant to the society, and that is what it the Philippines politics convulated and inept. Can someone prove me wrong please? May the Filipino People realized that they can live without false belief and they thrive when they accept that truth it will set them free, Mabuhay ka Pilipinas. Amen.

    • Don’t ever give that challenge Mr. Robert James, if you are in fact, wrong!! Who would act as judge, yourself?

  10. Leodegardo M. Pruna on

    She doesn’t need to wait for the count of 10 for at the count of five (lima) she’s out. Karma is the name of the game. God bless the Philippines.

  11. leila is asking for fairness that she did not give to GMA, and to other victims of injustice during her term. poetic justice, in motion… what goes around, comes around!

  12. The Great Defiant on

    can I be Delima cup bearer?
    don’t worry I will not poison her..
    I just want to give her a dose of her own medicine….

  13. Now things are getting clearer. Information that were not available during the Aquino administration are starting to surface. Hopefully, the truth will indeed set us free from ignorance.

  14. Ergo, is it luck for her cum woe to the 92% Filipinos who registered their support for Duterte as shown by SWS and Pulse Asia a couple of weeks after the 2016 election OR otherwise ?

  15. Sa aking palagay , mahi-hirapan ang mga taong gustong patalsikin si Pres. RR Duterte sa kanyang puwesto , dahil mas marami ang mga taong bayan na gusto ang kanyang pamamalakad … gagastos man ang mga katulad nina Ginang Leila at Ginoong Antonio ng ‘Limang Trillones na pesos” para iharap ang mga taong magti-testigo kontra kay Pres. RR Duterte (katulad nina Lascanas at Matobato) , sila ay siguradong mabibigo … VOX POPULI VOX DEI sabi nga sa Latin .

    • Actually a journalist that tell it the way it is… unlike Inquirer, ABSCBN News, GMA news, Rappler.

      And if you really understood the Article then you know that it is not promoting if Duterte is right or wrong he is just meerly stating the facts of injustices between the two Administration and the differences in the way such cases was handled and will be handled…

      Pull your head out of Aquino’s ass so you would understand it properly.

  16. Politics at its best the Filipino way. Although “fake news” might have something with the whole barbing at each other. Less we forget that all parties were all born with “a silver spoon at their mouth”.