Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has refused to take what she branded as Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s bait when he publicly asked her why she has not availed of court bail from trumped-up illegal drug charges hurled against her.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under Duterte administration, said she would not telegraph her legal strategy and give any hint on how she and her lawyers would defend herself and proceed in the drug cases the government filed against her.
“Secretary Guevarra claims that the probable reason why I haven’t applied thus far for bail in my drug cases is because the evidence for the prosecution is strong. That is pure hogwash!” she said.
“[H]ow can a fake charge, a pure invention, have strong evidence? Lies orchestrated from criminal convicts and other so-called “prosecution witnesses” with dubious reputation, are never strong evidence,” she added.
According to the lady Senator from Bicol, Guevarra’s public statement is nothing but an attempt to taunt her into divulging her camp’s legal strategies to the public.
“[I] and my lawyers cannot further comment on the matter of bail, lest we telegraph our legal moves to the prosecution – which is likely the reason for SOJ Guevarra’s public baiting statement,” she stressed.
De Lima pointed out that Guevarra should be more candid in the real nature of the politically motivated and trumped-up cases filed against her and not to downgrade it to a mere question whether the evidence against her is strong or weak.
“When the Strong Arm of the State is being used to rewrite the rules, twist the law, and present ever-evolving testimony from perjured witnesses, while at the same time withholding other evidence, the real question that needs to be asked: what Law or what Constitution are you applying and defending?” she said.
De Lima also compared Guevarra’s efforts to the continued railroading of her persecution and unjust detention while doing almost nothing in pursuit of real drug lords, lessen if not completely eradicates, his credibility as Justice Secretary.
“If only Secretary Guevarra pursued real drug lords with the same vigor as he does the cases against me – lining up no less than 15 prosecutors to handle my cases, as opposed to the dismal handling of the cases of Peter Lim and other real big-time drug lords – perhaps he would not only have some credibility as an SOJ,” she said.
Last October, the Department of Justice deployed an “army of prosecutors” under the direct supervision of the Prosecutor General to solely focus on the cases filed against De Lima at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.
“As it is, the stark and obvious contrast only betrays [Guevarra’s] real marching orders from his principal – not to put an end to the drug problem, but to use the strong arm of the criminal justice system to maliciously discredit vocal critics of the President like myself so no one is left to stand up for the Filipino people and for the truth,” she added.
De Lima, who has been recognized as a prisoner of conscience here and abroad, has repeatedly proclaimed that her illegal arrest and unjust detention is not a case of prosecution but of persecution borne out by Mr. Duterte’s vindictiveness.