Leila also in Time mag’s 2017 list; Palace protests
MALACAÑANG on Friday questioned the inclusion of arrested Senator Leila de Lima in TIME Magazine’s list of 100 influential people, saying that the publication did not indicate that she was imprisoned over drug-related charges.
Joining President Rodrigo Duterte, who joined the list under the “leaders” list, De Lima’s profile was written by former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and described her imprisonment as a “disturbing testament to the current solidarity among strongmen and the global surge in impunity.”
“In the case of Senator De Lima, TIME conveniently failed to clarify that she was jailed not for her criticisms against the administration but because an independent court found probable cause in support of the criminal charges against her for alleged violation of the law on illegal drugs,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
De Lima’s profile was placed under the “icons” list.
Duterte’s profile was written by former Colombian President César Gaviria, who earlier offered some unsolicited advice to Duterte on his war on drugs.
“His ironfisted strategy alarms governments, human-rights organizations and faith-based groups while winning high approval ratings at home,” Gaviria said.
“Duterte could start by treating drugs as a health, human rights and development issue. He could prosecute the most violent criminals and provide treatment for users rather than condemn them to prison, or worse,” the article said.
“There will always be drugs in the Philippines, whether the President likes it or not. The tragedy is that many more people are likely going to die as he learns this lesson.”
Abella, however, said Duterte still enjoys the trust and confidence of the Filipinos.
“The fact remains that President Duterte is supported by majority of the Filipinos in his campaign against illegal hard drugs, crime and corruption,” he said.
TIME said De Lima was included in the list for “standing up against the murderous war on illegal drugs in the Philippines.”
It added that she was detained on trumped up drug charges.
Before her ouster as chairman of the Senate justice committee, De Lima presented self-confessed Davao Death Squad assassin Edgar Matobato, who claimed that Duterte, when he was still mayor of Davao City, formed the group to execute suspected criminals, personal enemies and political opponents.
“Since last June, when Duterte took office, some 7,000 people have been killed in his merciless anti-drug campaign. Most opposition politicians have kept their heads down, knowing Duterte is both terrifyingly brutal and massively popular,” the citation for De Lima read.
“But Senator De Lima has become Duterte’s most vocal critic―a role her friends call suicidal. Last August, De Lima convened a hearing on Duterte’s drug war killings, featuring devastating testimony from a former hit man,” it added, recalling Matobato’s revelations.
The TIME citation also noted how De Lima refuses to be silenced despite detention, with the Senator continuously criticizing the governance style of the President.
“And yet, even from prison, she continues to speak out against her President: ‘It’s not OK with me that we have a murderous psychopath occupying the highest post in the land’,” the citation said, quoting one of the senator’s letters to supporters.