De Lima: SC allowed Duterte to ‘hide like a coward’ with junking of case
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima said she is disappointed with the Supreme Court (SC) decision that junked her case against President Rodrigo Duterte, saying that the high tribunal allowed the Chief Executive to “hide like a coward.”
De Lima said in a statement on Thursday that SC’s move to recognize Duterte’s immunity from suits as President would only embolden the latter to launch more attacks against women.
“I am, of course, disappointed by the Supreme Court’s junking of my Petition for Habeas Data, filed way back on Nov. 7, 2016,” the senator noted. “While I respect the Resolution, I cannot help but think that the Supreme Court has allowed Mr. Duterte to hide, like a coward, behind the protection of the ‘Office of the President’ for his personal and despicable words and deeds.”
“I cannot help but think that the Supreme Court’s decision has the effect of emboldening attacks against women by undermining the acts of two branches of government that passed a law protecting women, and stripping Filipino women of the protection that the judiciary is mandated to afford them,” she added.
SC decided on Wednesday to dismiss De Lima’s habeas data petition against Duterte, urging the court to stop the President from making verbal attacks against her.
According to SC, it was not depriving the opposition senator of availing legal remedies but reminded her that she can only do so after Duterte steps down from office.
The lady senator was the subject of Duterte’s verbal attacks — ranging from her womanhood and private life — after she criticized the government’s bloody war against drugs.
De Lima claimed that the presidential immunity is only reserved for the office, and not for Duterte who allegedly abuses the office’s power.
“I’ve always believed that the presidential immunity from suit is meant for the Office, not the man who abuses its powers and destroys its dignity. And the acts of the occupant of that Office attacking a woman, contrary to the explicit protections under the Magna Carta of Women—a law validly passed by two branches of Congress, including the Office of the President—may not fall within the ambit of that legal shield,” she explained.
“Politics is not an excuse or a get-out-of-jail-free card for abusing women. No one is above the law. Not even if your surname is Duterte. Because Duterte the man, who harassed a woman for daring to exercise her right to participate in public discourse, is not Duterte the President,” she added.
De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police’s custodial center in Camp Crame for drug-related charges when she was still justice secretary, but she claimed it was only a form of political vendetta, as she also investigated alleged extra-judicial killings when Duterte was still Davao mayor.
However, administration officials said that De Lima is not a political prisoner, with Duterte even saying that she is a prisoner of lust.
Just recently, United States (US) senators proposed to ban the entry of people responsible for De Lima’s imprisonment, where they also called for the release of the senator. The ban was solidified after US president Donald Trump signed the 2020 budget.
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