Mr. Patrick Leahy of the US Senate, responding to this representation’s reaction to his proposal to bar our government officials who have something to do with Senator De Lima’s incarceration, has been quoted as saying that “when Philippine officials abuse the justice system for the purpose of political retribution, [they] have a responsibility to respond.”

Senator Leahy’s statement assumes he has sufficient knowledge of our substantive and procedural laws that constitute our country’s justice system. It further assumes that he personally examined the record folder of the case and after evaluating it concluded that there was an abuse in the judicial process De Lima underwent.

Both assumptions do not exist as the good US Senator is ignorant of our procedural rules subjecting a person charged with the commission of a crime. Neither has he set foot in the country for the sole purpose of personally examining the case of De Lima that he may have a reasonable basis to buttress his proposal.

Hence in citing abuse of Philippine officials without an iota of proof he was speaking not only of blissful ignorance but unscented abuse.

When Senator Leahy speaks of abuse he must be referring to his abuse of his freedom of expression, as he waxes a false and malicious narrative against our government officials with unparalleled arrogance and without a glint of remorse.

That such totally baseless conclusion comes from a Senator of the United States of America, a country that prides itself as a bulwark of democracy and observer of due process, is bad enough and a continuing disappointment. If the Senator Leahy is a lawyer then that makes it worse and unpardonable. – –

For the enlightenment of Senator Leahy, there would been abuse in the case of Senator De Lima if she was formally charged without the existence of a probable cause and if she was arrested without a warrant of arrest or if a warrant of arrest was issued by a judge without a finding of probable or if during the preliminary investigation she was not afforded the opportunity to submit countervailing evidence in her behalf. The constitutional requirement of due process accorded any accused has been observed. De Lima’s cry of political persecution echoed by her supporters is the convenient refuge of political chameleons who change their beliefs at will to suit their political agenda.

Senator Leahy notes that this representation has “defended the wrongful imprisonment of Senator De Lima.” For his education, there was no wrongful imprisonment. as explained earlier. What I am defending is the independence of the official actions of the institutions of this Republic. What I am defending is the sovereignty of this nation from outside interference. What I am defending is the country’s presidency which commands the occupant to serve and protect the people from the enemies of the state that are bent on destroying

the nation and the republic, which are constantly under assault by the terrorists, drug lords and pushers, communist and muslim rebels. And whose resources have been ripped off by the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians.

Giving aids or grants is not a form of sovereign interference. They are given by a state to another by reason of comity and friendship. The Philippines welcomes them. Grants or aids with attached conditions are anathema to the very purpose of such generosity and we reject them, for they cloth the donor the authority as well as the gumption to meddle into our internal affairs thereby trampling our sovereign rights.

We remind Senator Leahy that the Republic of the Philippines is not a vassal nor a colony of America. It is an independent state that is fiercely protective of its sovereignty and subservient to no other country.

Salvador S. Panelo

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel

& Presidential Spokesperson

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