by Genalyn Kabiling and Hannah Torregoza
Malacañang isn’t exactly thrilled that President Duterte shares the same spotlight with one of his staunchest critics, Senator Leila de Lima, in TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2017.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the international magazine failed to point out De Lima has been detained pending a trial for alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
“In the case of Sen. 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,” Abella said.
De Lima, however, said she was humbled to be included in the TIME magazine’s list.
“I am deeply humbled for being recognized by Time magazine as an Icon among their 100 Most Influential People in the world,” De Lima said in a statement.
The senator has been critical of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs which was marred by allegations of extrajudicial killings.
“The struggle for human rights and the fight for justice for those who have been murdered by the Duterte regime in its drug war are not popular causes as of the moment,” De Lima said
Duterte has been named one of TIME honorees under “Leaders” but the profile written by former Colombian President Cèsar Gaviria was largely critical of his brutal war on illegal drugs.
De Lima, on the other hand, was listed under “Icons.” The senator’s strong criticisms of Duterte’s drug campaign were highlighted in the profile written by former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power.
Reacting to Duterte’s inclusion in the TIME list, Abella said: “The fact remains that President Duterte is supported by majority of the Filipinos in his campaign against illegal hard drugs, crime and corruption.”
In the TIME profile of Duterte, Gaviria wrote about the 7,000 drug killings since the Philippine leader came to power and how “iron-fisted strategy” has alarmed governments, human rights and religious groups.
Gaviria also shared his experience that taking a tough stance against drugs did not work when he was leader of Colombia. He instead suggested Duterte to treat drugs as a health and human rights and development issue.
“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,” he said.
Duterte previously called Gaviria an “idiot” for lecturing him on a more comprehensive approach to fighting drugs.
De Lima, currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, is facing drug charges filed against her by the present administration.
She has since denied having any involvement in illegal drugs, especially during her time as secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III.
She said she could have chosen to stay silent and dance with the regime’s music, but decided against it saying it would have been “a betrayal of the country, the oppressed, the marginalized, and the fight for justice.”
“It would have been a betrayal of my father, my sons, and my family. I cannot for once contemplate capitulating to the dark side that this regime now embodies in exchange for a comfortable but opportunist life,” she said.”
“This is why international recognition of what we fight for is important, because even as darkness surrounds us now, the world keeps watch and shines a light on us, until the time comes when we can finally bear our own torch once again and chase away the monster that enslaves us in evil,” she stressed.
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