Palace hails Rody’s in­clu­sion in Time 100, but…

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By ALEXIS ROMERO

Mala­cañang yes­ter­day hailed Pres­i­dent Duterte’s in­clu­sion in Time mag­a­zine’s “100 most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple,” but de­cried the mag­a­zine’s fail­ure to men­tion the drug-re­lated charges against his critic Sen. Leila de Lima.

Duterte and De Lima were in­cluded in the list, which also had ac­tors, mu­si­cians, busi­ness lead­ers, ac­tivists and sci­en­tists.

The Pres­i­dent was among the “lead­ers” while the se­na­tor was in­cluded in the “icons” cat­e­gory.

Duterte had topped the online poll that pre­ceded the mag­a­zine’s se­lec­tion of the TIME 100, best­ing Pope Fran­cis, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Mi­crosoft co-founder Bill Gates.

“The fact re­mains that Pres­i­dent Duterte is sup­ported by a ma­jor­ity of Filipinos in his cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs, crime and cor­rup­tion,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a state­ment.

“In the case of Se­na­tor De Lima, Time con­ve­niently failed to clar­ify that she was jailed not for her crit­i­cisms against the ad­min­is­tra­tion but be­cause an in­de­pen­dent

court found prob­a­ble cause in support of the crim­i­nal charges against her for al­leged vi­o­la­tion of the law on il­le­gal drugs,” he added.

De Lima, who started a Se­nate in­quiry on the killings linked to Duterte’s clam­p­down on il­le­gal drugs, was ar­rested and jailed last Fe­bru­ary on charges that she took bribes from con­victed drug lords. She has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and claimed that the charges against her were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

While the write-up on Duterte was mostly a re­buke of his bru­tal war on il­le­gal drugs, De Lima was por­trayed as a fig­ure of re­sis­tance against “strong­man” rule.

The TIME write-up was penned by Ce­sar Gaviria, the for­mer Colom­bian pres­i­dent who chased no­to­ri­ous drug lord Pablo Es­co­bar. In a New York Times com­men­tary, he wrote that Duterte was re­peat­ing his mis­takes as “throw­ing more sol­diers and po­lice at drug users is not just a waste of money but also can ac­tu­ally make the prob­lem worse.”

Gaviria’s com­ments did not sit well with Duterte, who called the for­mer Colom­bian leader an “id­iot.”

In his ar­ti­cle, he said the Philip­pine leader’s ap­proach on nar­cotics was “as ill-con­sid­ered as his grasp of history,” not­ing that the war has alarmed gov­ern­ments, hu­man-rights or­ga­ni­za­tions and faith-based groups even when Duterte was “win­ning high ap­proval rat­ings at home.”

“After spend­ing bil­lions, I dis­cov­ered that the war was un­winnable and the hu­man costs were dev­as­tat­ing. The cure was in­fin­itely worse than the dis­ease,” Gaviria de­scribed his own cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs as he pre­dicted many more will die as Duterte learns his les­son.

In con­trast, Sa­man­tha Power, a for­mer UN am­bas­sador,

From Page 1 por­trayed De Lima as a brave op­po­si­tion fig­ure: “Most op­po­si­tion politi­cians have kept their heads down, know­ing Duterte is both ter­ri­fy­ingly bru­tal and mas­sively pop­u­lar. But Se­na­tor De Lima has be­come Duterte’s most vo­cal critic – a role her friends call sui­ci­dal.”

Power said De Lima’s im­pris­on­ment was a “dis­turb­ing tes­ta­ment to the cur­rent sol­i­dar­ity among strong­men and the global surge in im­punity that De Lima’s cause has not been more em­braced.

De Lima said she is deeply hum­bled and en­cour­aged by her in­clu­sion in Time’s 100 Most In­flu­en­tial Peo­ple for 2017.

In a state­ment is­sued from the Philip­pine National Po­lice Cus­to­dial Cen­ter where she is de­tained on drug charges, she vowed to con­tinue op­pos­ing Duterte’s bru­tal war on drugs.

“For many of our coun­try­men, it is more con­ve­nient to huddle up close to Mala­cañang and reap the ben­e­fits of be­ing a syco­phant, rather than take the road less trav­elled but be the vic­tim of po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion by a venge­ful strong­man,” the se­na­tor said.

“I could have cho­sen to stay silent and dance with the regime’s mu­sic, but that would have been a be­trayal of the coun­try, the op­pressed, the marginal­ized, and the fight for jus­tice,” she said. “I can­not for once con­tem­plate ca­pit­u­lat­ing to the dark side that this regime now em­bod­ies in ex­change for a com­fort­able but op­por­tunist life.”

De Lima said she would also be be­tray­ing her fa­ther, sons, and her fam­ily if she re­mained silent to the hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions of the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The se­na­tor re­newed her call for in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion and action on the ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings as lo­cal hu­man rights ad­vo­cates need the world to keep watch.

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