Was Sen. De Lima’s arrest politically motivated?

    MANILA, Philippines - Hours after Senator Leila de Lima presented herself to authorities on Friday morning, several organizations have questioned whether she is being subjected to political persecution.

    Sen. Leila de Lima's mugshot in violation of RA 9165 (Illegal drug trading).
    Sen. Leila de Lima's mugshot in violation of RA 9165 (Illegal drug trading).
    On Thursday, February 23, a Muntinlupa court issued a warrant of arrest for the lady Senator, her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan as well as former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos for illegal drug trafficking.

    Human Rights Watch accused President Rodrigo Duterte of using the government to carry out a personal vendetta against his staunchest critic.

    Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement:

    “By arresting Senator Leila de Lima on politically motivated drug charges, President Duterte has effectively expanded his 'drug war' from the urban poor to the legislative branch of the government.”

    Unchristian to Rejoice

    Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Socrates Villegas said he is hoping that De Lima and her co-accused would be given a fair trial. He also warned political opponents of De Lima that it is “unchristian” to rejoice over the sufferings of others.

    "It is unchristian to find secret pleasure in the sufferings of others. May we recognize in ourselves the awful power of sin and our need for God’s help! We need the Lord even more now!” Villegas said in a statement.

    Not Politically Motivated

    Despite issues surrounding the arrest of De Lima, Malacañang reiterated that De Lima was arrested because a criminal and not a political case was filed against her.

    Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained that De Lima’s arrest is “a fulfilment” of Duterte’s war on drugs. On the other hand, Speaker Pantaleon Alavarez said it was proof that the justice system is working.

    “She will have the opportunity to defend herself and prove her innocence. The court has established probable cause therefore, let us keep our faith in the judicial system. The moral arc is long but it always bends towards justice,” Abella said.

    --Mini, The Summit Express

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