Sedition case vs Robredo, opposition figures part of Duterte's 'authoritarian experiment' – De Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained senator Leila de Lima said on Sunday, August 25, that the sedition case filed against fellow opposition figures that include Vice President Leni Robredo is part of a “bigger authoritarian experiment” of President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies.

De Lima said this along with her acknowledgement of the joint resolution of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), that called for her release and the dropping of “politically motivated” charges against Robredo and other opposition leaders. (READ: ASEAN lawmakers: Free De Lima, drop charges vs opposition)

 “In the Philippines, there have been efforts to undermine and sideline the opposition as evidenced by the filing of trumped-up charges, arrests, and detention, as in my case, on account of our legitimate exercise of duties as elected representatives of the people in the legislature,” De Lima said.

“There are also downright threats and vilification against me and my colleagues in the minority. We view this trend, along with other forms of harassment such as the filing of the sedition case against opposition leaders, including Vice President Robredo, as nothing but a cog in their game plan to silence and decimate the democratic opposition. We view this project as being part of a bigger authoritarian experiment of Duterte and his allies,” the senator added.

De Lima, a fierce critic of the President, has been detained on allegations of drug trafficking since February 2017. She has denied the charges against her.

The senator welcomed the joint resolution of the APHR and CALD, issued in time for the 40th general assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in Bangkok from August 25 to 30. In her statement, de Lima emphasized that “a well-functioning parliament – one that promotes and protects the role of the opposition – is vital to democracy.”

“No government can truly claim that it is for, of, and by the people unless there is a guarantee that the voice of the minority is also heard and that their work is valued in the lawmaking bodies of the land,” de Lima said.

De Lima added that the joint statement of the APHR and CALD was timely and relevant as it draws attention to the “fast declining state of the region’s democracy, punctuated by the persecution, harassment and other forms of attack against the political opposition in parliament.”

The joint statement highlighted not only de Lima’s detention and the sedition case against the Philippine opposition leader but also the plight of opposition movement in Cambodia.

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha is detained for charges of treason and espionage in 2017 over an alleged conspiracy with unnamed foreigners. Sokha said these were trumped up charges by strongman premier Hun Sen.–