The Philippines’ Leila De Lima and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi. Two women sharing a few traits: vocal, activist, political figure, incarceration.
Human Rights and political activists are drawing similarities between them. But nothing is farthest from the truth to say that just like Suu Kyi, De Lima is a political prisoner.
Many groups, including foreign organizations like the Swedish Social Demoratic Party have called for the release of De Lima, saying her detention “is unacceptable and can not be seen as anything other than that the government uses its powers improperly to those who oppose its policies.”
Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for a total of 15 years over a 21-year period, on numerous occasions, since she began her political career during which time she was prevented from meeting her party supporters and international visitors. The international community had, on many occasions, sought for her release which finally came in November of 2010.
Suu Kyi’s only “guilt”: she opposed the oppressive and undemocratic regime of her motherland.
No doubt, De Lima has done the same thing, being a vocal critic of the Duterte administration while hurling her own accusations about the president and his time as mayor of Davao City. She was never silenced or prevented from going public about her views and allegations.
De Lima is now in prison, but not for her politics. She faces criminal charges in connection with the alleged proliferation of the illegal trade inside the New Bilibid Prisons during the time that she was Justice Secretary.
She herself had challenged the administration to file formal charges against her in the court of law so that she can avail of the proper forum to prove her innocence. She got what she had always wanted.
For international groups and activists to demand her release is tantamount to interfering with the Philippines’ internal affairs.
To be very clear, it was not the Executive Department that put her in jail. Rather, it was the Judicial Department.
So for anyone to pressure Duterte to release De Lima is like asking him to violate the law of the country, asking him to be above the law.
De Lima is a brilliant lawyer. She knows the law and she is capable of defending herself against the accusation that put her behind bars.
Let the due process take its course. After all, “due process” has always been a battlecry for De Lima and the Opposition whenever they criticize Duterte and his administration.