Detained Senator Leila de Lima, is precisely getting a “fair public trial, as due process requires”, Malacañang said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this comment in response to US Senator Patrick Leahy’s call to accord de Lima a fair public trial to allow her to defend herself.
Panelo called Leahy “ignorant” anew for relying on reports from the critics of President Rodrigo Duterte who claim that drug charges against De Lima were fabricated.
“US Senator Patrick Leahy simply does not get it. The good senator from Vermont, through his spokesperson David Carle, is showing more ignorance and uttering amusing nonsense on a subject matter based on bogus narratives coming from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s vocal and noisy critics and detractors,” Panelo said in a statement.
He insisted that de Lima’s case followed due process since the investigating prosecutor and the judge have found probable cause to pursue charges and issue the warrant of arrest against her.
“For the sound legal education of Senator Leahy, this representation did not say that the government, or the administration for that matter, has strong evidence. That is for the court to decide,” Panelo said.
“This Senator Leahy’s retort only validates his sheer ignorance on our country’s substantive and procedural rules,” he added.
Panelo stressed that it was Leahy who has placed de Lima’s case “outside legal process” through filing an amendment to the 2020 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) appropriations bill to include a ban on the entry to the US of Philippine government officials involved in her imprisonment.
This amendment was approved by the US Senate appropriations committee.
“It is Senator Leahy who has been undertaking measures to place the case of Senator de Lima outside our legal process and place it in a hostile environment stacked against the Philippine officials. His actions smack of interference with due process, particularly that of the People of the Philippines, he claims to promote,” Panelo said.
The Palace official, meanwhile, urged Leahy to address his country’s issues rather than meddling into another country’s affairs.
“Mr. Leahy cannot be more popish than the Pope. It may be best for him to address the issues his country is facing rather than looking for other concerns which belong to a separate and independent state,” Panelo said.
Panelo, meanwhile, criticized Leahy for quoting the US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018: Philippines 2018 Human Rights Report as a basis of the human rights situation in the Philippines without reading it entirely.
“It is unfortunate that he chose to dwell on the negative commentaries of the report and failed to look at the entire 44 pages,” Panelo said.
Citing the same report on the illegal drug campaign, Panelo said its assessment is respectful of the government’s deeper challenges, e.g. deaths of many law enforcement officers during operations, even as the accountability of those from the same ranks is guaranteed through investigations of “any actions taken outside the rule of law.”
Panelo said the report also underscored that government civilian control over its law enforcers is exercised, citing a statement from the President that while the anti-drug campaign is “far from over” with its “relentless and chilling” effect, all police who are corrupt are hunted down and jailed.
The report also recognized the sentencing of three police officials involved in the Kian de los Santos killing, even as it noted that 1,274,148 individuals have surrendered for drug rehabilitation and clearance while the government’s unprecedented war against illegal drugs and criminality has resulted in more detainees.
Panelo admitted that there may be isolated accounts of abuse on the part of its law enforcers, but assured that the government continues to address them and hold the transgressors accountable.
Meanwhile, Panelo insisted that the “most reliable source of information on the human rights situation in the Philippines” are the Filipino people and not Duterte’s critics.
“The Filipino people, we believe, are the most reliable source of information on the human rights situation in the Philippines. Independent surveys in the country show our countrymen universally believe in the President’s drug war and approve of it as well as satisfied with the result,” Panelo said.
Eight out of 10 or 82 percent of Filipinos remained satisfied by the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey fielded from June 22 to 26 showed.
Earlier, Leahy’s camp urged the government to give de Lima a fair trial pointing out how prosecutors used a variety of legal tactics to delay her arraignment.
“Her (de Lima’s) case attracted widespread domestic and international attention with many observers denouncing the charges as politically motivated,” part of the report read.
De Lima, one of Duterte’s staunchest critics, has been in detention since February 2017 for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. However, she denied these charges. (PNA)