Press Release
July 23, 2019

Sedition cases meant to silence opposition from supporting UN probe - De Lima

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has insisted that the complaints filed against the opposition is a familiar tactic employed by the government in running away from the impending United Nations-led probe into the rampant human rights abuses in the country.

De Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte administration's war on drugs, said the cases filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) was meant to divert the public's attention away from the unabated spate of killings and other excesses of the government.

"Ito po ang sagot nila sa UNHRC resolution--ang pag-initan na naman ang oposisyon gamit ang basurang akusasyon. Ang tugon nila sa paggiit sa katotohanan at katarungan ay ang usigin at patahimikin ang mga kritiko at naninindigan," she said.

The PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed cases of inciting to sedition, cyber libel, libel and obstruction of justice against Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators De Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and former Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino.

Also charged were Otso Diretso senatorial candidates Chel Diokno, Florin Hilbay, former Reps. Gary Alejano and Erin Tañada, Romulo Macalintal, and Samira Gutoc for their alleged involvement in the series of videos exposing Duterte's links with illegal drugs.

De Lima, the most distinguished human rights defender under threat, pointed out that the Duterte administration is desperately trying to muddle the national discourse away from the resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

"Busy ang gobyernong ito para ibahin ang balita at ilihis ang usapan sa libo-libong pinatay, sa mga batang nadamay, sa pag-etsapuwera sa mangingisda, sa lumalalang ilegal na droga, at sa kapos pa ring pagkain sa hapag ng maraming Pilipino," she said.

Last July 11, the UNHRC has adopted a resolution mandating what it called a "comprehensive" international review of the Philippine government's all-out war on drugs that resulted in the death of thousands of suspected drug offenders.

The Duterte administration, however, has rejected the UNHRC's call for an independent investigation into the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines, maintaining that it was an unnecessary interference by foreign entities.

The lady Senator from Bicol underscored that those behind the thousands of killings in connection with the government's sham war on drugs, and not members of the opposition, should be charged and be brought to justice for their sins.

She also slammed the government's claim that it has no knowledge about the string of cases filed against the opposition even as she criticized the CIDG for using a known criminal to boost their cases, which she earlier described as "pure hogwash."

"Sobrang obvious na ganito ang style ng gobyerno ngayon: mas pinapaniwalaan nila ang mga kriminal at hindi yung matitinong tao," said De Lima, referring to Joemel Advincula (aka "Bikoy") whose affidavit was used as basis by the CIDG in filing the cases despite his proven record of lying and deceiving people.

The former justice secretary said this was not the first time that the Duterte administration has connived with persons with known criminal background, such as Advincula, to malign and file dubious charges against the opposition.

In her situation, De Lima said the Duterte administration has conspired with convicted criminals in filing fabricated charges against her to prevent her from speaking against the extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses under this regime.

Considered by the international community as the most prominent political prisoner in the country today, De Lima has repeatedly maintained her innocence from the sham charges filed by the Duterte regime, confident that the truth will come out in due time.

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