The Year of Leila de Lima
Senator Leila de Lima has just been named one of Foreign Policy magazine's 100 Global Thinkers for 2016. We thought it fitting to include this piece—published in our December 2016 issue as part of our Naughty or Nice series—here on our website.
The former chair of the Commission on Human Rights and the former Secretary of Justice has had a tumultuous start to her career as a neophyte Senator: She unfortunately got in President Duterte’s considerable crosshairs when she’d dared question the rise of extrajudicial killings since the start of his term. Manifestations of his ire that someone from another branch of government dared exercise checks and balances against his branch of government ran the spectrum—but, most tellingly, what stuck among the Filipino people were his insults regarding her appearance and allegations of her starring in sex tapes with inappropriate menfolk. Because you naturally combat valid criticisms regarding the bloodshed in your fledgling administration with attacks on your critic’s personal life.
As Chair of the Senate Committee of Justice and Human Rights, she led one of the few government bodies willing to publicly probe the implications of the drug war under which these murders were being executed, and lending credence to the Davao Death Squad that’s shrouded President Duterte’s reputation as an iron fist in his home city. Before her investigation gained ground, however, she was ousted by her colleagues and duly replaced with a man who’d once announced his desire to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Because that’s what heading a committee that covers issues of justice and human rights seems to call for, according to our esteemed Senate.
Senator de Lima has admitted to her relationship with her former driver Ronnie Dayan, who President Duterte has accused, in quite a presidential fashion, of receiving drug money for the Senator.