For one who thinks highly of herself being a lawyer, a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights, a former Justice Secretary and now a senator, Leila de Lima is talking, acting and proceeding attendant to the criminal charges filed against her as if she has what it takes to absolve herself from it.
But, does she have really by showing her defiant and fighting mood or is she just being pictured now as grasping at straws?
After the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), former NBI deputy directors Raul Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda, and high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian each filed their complaints against de Lima allegedly conspiring to perpetuate the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and receiving her share of payola from the same, now comes the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), no less, accusing de Lima also for bribery and proliferation of illegal drugs in the NBP.
The NBI specifically charged de Lima for violating Sections 5 and 26 (b) of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act in relation to qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code, Section 27 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Presidential Decree 46 and Section 7 (d) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees.
These violations pertain to qualified bribery; sale and distribution of illegal drugs, conspiracy to do so and the failure of a public official to account for seized illegal drugs and paraphernalia; giving unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of a public official’s function; solicitation or acceptance of gifts or benefits as public officials.
Obviously de Lima labeled all these as trumped-up charges, which she strongly blames President Rodrigo Duterte for, as the latter wants to silence her, she being the most vocal critic of the president.
Thus, on de Lima’s part, she is also doing everything to debunk all the allegations hurled at her and looking at ways, based on her knowledge of the law, to put Duterte on the spot, either to humiliate him or silence him, by calling for the UN to investigate the extra-judicial killings allegedly happening in the country in Duterte’s war against drug and pushing for an immediate Senate investigation into the investment projects worth of billions of dollars, including business-to-business and public financing agreements, signed Duterte’s state visit to China last October, among others.
Lately, de Lima sought the Supreme Court’s help through a petition for habeas data to stop Duterte and his men from gathering information on her private life.
De Lima urged the high court to order the destruction of the obtained pieces of personal information.
In her petition, de Lima said the verbal attacks on her womanhood and threats are not covered by presidential immunity from suit.
De Lima said Duterte’s discriminate remarks against her “constitute psychological violence prohibited by Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.” She added that the personal attacks against her also violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
It remains to be seen how far de Lima’s mind will take her, but reality and constitutionally, immunity from suit is accorded a sitting President to ensure that he or she can exercise his duties and functions of running the country’s affairs free from any hindrance or distraction.
As Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said, presidential immunity from lawsuit is already an established doctrine and it is absolute.
What de Lima should be more worried about now is the revelation of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, before he was killed, that she was also on the take from the dead drug lord’s illegal drug business.
One can’t help wondering what the late drug lord’s son, Kerwin, a much more powerful drug lord in his own right, has to say about de Lima when he is flown back from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Certainly, grasping at straws de Lima is.