De Lima decries ‘judicial miracles of impunity’ under Duterte gov’t, cites cases of Reyes, GMA, JPE, Jinggoy, Napoles

January 10, 2018 - 9:31 PM
Sen. Leila M. de Lima is escorted by members of the PNP in Nov. 16, 2017 hearing at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court-Branch 204. FILE PHOTO FROM SEN. DE LIMA'S OFFICE

MANILA, Philippines — Detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima again assailed the Duterte administration over what she called the “impunity virus” allegedly plaguing the government, particularly the judiciary.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the former Department of Justice chief “lamented” the alleged “spate of miracles performed” by the judiciary on high-profile cases that “exonerated the powerful, influential, and well-connected, either even before trial or after conviction by the trial court.”

De Lima said the “judicial miracles of impunity” did not only happen in the case of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, who was recently absolved by the Court of Appeals in the 2011 murder of environmentalist and journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega.

The lawmaker cited the cases of former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, former President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles and her daughter Jeane Napoles, and former senator Jinggoy Estrada, among others.

De Lima said the “judicial miracles” started with Enrile being granted bail by the Supreme Court in his plunder case, which the high tribunal upheld in July 2016.

This, De Lima said, was quickly followed by the complete exoneration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by the high court without the trial of her plunder case before the Sandiganbayan.

The senator also mentioned the reversal by the Court of Appeals of Napoles’s conviction for serious illegal detention or kidnapping, “upon the instance of the solicitor general himself.”

De Lima cited as among the latest alleged “miracles” the release of Estrada on bail despite previous rulings that the evidence of guilt against him for plunder was strong, and the dismissal of tax evasion charges against Napoles’ high society-living daughter, Jeane.

She also noted other “miracles,” such as the virtual historic exoneration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was allowed a hero’s burial by the high court, despite the tribunal’s own past decisions that adjudged Marcos to have acquired ill-gotten wealth throughout his reign as dictator.

“To the powerful, influential, and well-connected who have stolen millions of public funds or murdered hundreds of citizens, these might seem to be heaven-sent miracles. But to the public that is already disgusted with the plethora of acquittals and pre-trial exonerations performed by the judiciary, this is already judicial impunity at its worst in the history of the country,” De Lima said.

“To the powerful, influential, and well-connected who have stolen millions of public funds or murdered hundreds of citizens, these might seem to be heaven-sent miracles. But to the public that is already disgusted with the plethora of acquittals and pre-trial exonerations performed by the judiciary, this is already judicial impunity at its worst in the history of the country,” De Lima said.

Also, De Lima warned about Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s eventual replacement “with a minion of Malacañang.”

“If that happens, we can all expect these judicial ‘miracles’ of impunity to become the new normal, in line with the unprecedented impunity promoted and perpetrated by the strongman and dictator-in-waiting Duterte,” she said.