HRW: Leila epitomizes risks of criticizing Duterte

Oct. 11, 2017

Photo from Leila de Lima’s official Facebook page

DAVAO DEL NORTE, Philippines — The decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to upholding the arrest and detention of Senator Leima De Lima is a warning to all the critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, a New York-based human rights said on Wednesday, October 11.

Carlos Conde, researcher of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said that with the present “abusive protection” under the Duterte administration, “demanding accountability for victims may spark vicious official reprisals.”

“Concerned governments should press for an end to the deadly anti-drug campaign, publicly express their outrage at de Lima’s prosecution, and support a UN-led international investigation,” said Conde in a statement.

On October 10, the SC en banc voted 9-6, junking the petition of De Lima, a staunch critic of the President’s war on illegal drugs. Critics say the war has resulted to the deaths of more than 12,000 individuals over the past 15 months.

De Lima filed a petition to nullify the search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Juanita Guerrero.

Part of her petition was to ask the SC to rule if the Department of Justice and the RTC have jurisdiction over her cases.

The SC ruled that Muntinlupa RTC has the jurisdiction over De Lima’s case and not the Sandiganbayan, saying that the anti-graft court “is limited to violations of the anti-graft laws and do not extend to violations of the drugs law.”

Conde said that De Lima’s arrest followed a relentless government campaign of “harassment and intimidation” against De Lima in response to her outspoken criticism of Duterte’s “war on drugs.”

“Duterte and his government have systematically sought to vilify, harass, and intimidate those who have pursued accountability for drug war crimes domestically and internationally. The targets of the harassment campaign include human rights organizations and activists, lawyers, United Nations officials, and journalists,” he said. (

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