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DISPATCH FROM CAMP CRAME: Sen. De Lima argues on case of Duterte’s withdrawal from ICC

A CITIZEN and sitting Senator is accused of conspiring to engage in the trade of an unspecified amount or type of drug, purely on the say-so of convicted felons. No corpus delicti has been produced or even alleged. She is presumed innocent. She has no violent history. Neither has she tried to evade justice. In fact, even when she was already under severe political attacks and experiencing real threats to her personal security, she promptly came back, with no delays whatsoever, after traveling abroad. Yet, whenever she asks for furloughs – primarily to discharge her mandate as a Senator – they are always denied. Because she’s a security threat, a “high” flight risk. Meanwhile, there is a man who is accused of participating in the planning and execution of the massacre of 58 people. 58 dead bodies thrown into a pit as if their lives were but garbage being disposed in a landfill. It is a crime as violent as any our country has seen. All so that a political opponent cannot contest the accused’s clan in the then upcoming elections. Bail has been denied because the evidence of guilt is strong. Yet, when he asks to go on furloughs to attend personal events in posh hotels, the request is granted. It is obvious, given the facts, that there is a double-standard, even injustice at play here. It is obvious that the denial of my request to argue on my own behalf, as petitioner before the Supreme Court, to question the validity of Duterte’s unilateral withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, has no basis in fact or in law. The denial is purely political. I simply cannot understand how attending a wedding can trump appearance in an important case with grave constitutional and political implications in the court’s hierarchy of considerations in granting furlough to detention prisoners. As disheartened and disappointed as I am, I know that neither I nor my fellow petitioners carry any blame. We exhausted all possible remedies. We even suggested to the Supreme Court to allow the use of existing technology in order to negate any fears that I may escape. As if! All our reasonable requests were denied. Discretion exercised without any basis in fact or law. They simply do not want me to, again, speak the truth about Duterte’s attempts to evade accountability for his blood-soaked regime. Because that is what the ICC withdrawal is all about. He unilaterally withdrew NOT because it was in the national interest. Duterte withdrew because remaining under the ICC jurisdiction is not in his personal, selfish interest. He fears that his time to pay for his crimes has come. And yet I am the flight risk? I have killed no one. I have smuggled and sold no drugs. I have not profited from the national coffers. That is why they want me silenced, away from the spotlight. Only evil fears the light. Only Duterte and his minions fear the ICC. (Signed) LILIA DE LIMA

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