It is precisely due process that has brought Senator Leila De Lima to this point of her arrest. In an extra-judicial scenario, she could have been picked up and jailed the very instant when allegations of her involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons first surfaced.
Due process enabled her to remain free for a long time, and to defend herself in Congress and in the court of public opinion. Along the way, she was also free to hurl accusations of her own (and she did) against the President, the Justice Secretary, and the witnesses called to testify against her in the Legislative hearings.
De Lima herself had, on many occasions, welcomed the filing of charges against her in a court of law so that she can prove her innocence in the appropriate venue. That time has come.
It was the judicial — not the executive or legislative — branch of government that issued her warrant of arrest based on the required ‘sufficient evidence’ and ‘probable cause’ to start the due process.
De Lima will have all the avenues available to her under the rule of law to contest the charges, including her arrest. Those processes have, as a matter of fact, already begun, through the senator’s legal team.
Vice President Leni Robredo, who is also critical of some of Duterte’s policies including the rampant drug killings and the restoration of the death penalty, said if the accusations against De Lima were indeed true, due process should still be afforded to her.
“Kung nagkasala, imbestigahan pero siguruhin na ang tamang proseso pagdaanan. Pero kung wala pang kaso may judgment na, ano iyong assurance natin na (If she has committed a sin, she should be investigated but she must undergo due process. But if a case has not yet been filed, yet there is already the judgment, what is our assurance that) she will be afforded the due process of law?” Robredo said. The VP now has the answer to her question.
Palace officials said the warrant of arrest issued against the senator gives her the opportunity to clear her name. We agree.
De Lima will finally have her day in court. She, VP Robredo, as well as all those who support or have been critical of the senator should all welcome this development.
It’s been a long time coming. But oftentimes, that is what due process entails.