Leila de Lima

[Free to Disagree] De Lima stood firm. But some men are trash.

Sylvia Estrada Claudio

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[Free to Disagree] De Lima stood firm. But some men are trash.
While some of us are brave, some men belong in jail

On June 24, 2024 the last  of the trumped-up drug cases against former senator Leila de Lima was dismissed.

The same court that granted her bail after almost 7 years of detention, Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 206, finally allowed her to walk completely free.

I did not know much about Leila de Lima until late 2016. At that time, then-president Rodrigo Duterte had started his killing spree and it was going strong. Normally sane and decent people seemed to be happy that all these alleged drug addicts were being killed. Duterte was at the height of power and popularity and it seemed the nation had succumbed to its darker side. The idea that peace and order and national development could be achieved by a man who had taken to killing without due process had somehow taken hold. That idea is, to put it bluntly, guano crazy. But we were there.

And then De Lima drew the line. On August 2, 2016, she delivered a privileged speech on the floor of the Senate calling a stop to the extrajudicial killings committed in the course of the drug war, and calling for a Senate investigation.


After that, the misogynist bullying began. On August 11, 2016, Duterte said that he had a government official in sight, whom he would destroy in public. He said he was spying on this official with the help of a foreign power. Yes, indeed, yippee. The President confessed to spying on a government official with the help of a foreign power and all these machos who voted for him because of his toxic masculine approach to uber-nationalism, let it ride. Given a choice between national freedom and freedom to slutshame, guess which one they chose?

On August 17, 2016, Duterte named Leila de Lima and called her an “immoral, dirty woman.” He accused her further of being “hooked on drugs because of the close association” with her driver with whom she was having an affair. This President, who had bragged continuously of his own sexual escapades outside of marriage, enjoyed rape jokes featuring himself as an aspiring rapist, and talks about sexually abusing a maid, was slut-shaming a woman for having an affair. And all the machos were orgasmic in their support of the revival of the double standard for men and women. Sexual servitude of women, the key to good governance!

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Shortly thereafter, then-speaker Pantaleon Alvarez filed House Resolution No. 105, which started a House panel investigation into allegations that de Lima had a hand in the proliferation of drug syndicates at the New Bilibid Prison. Those hearings proved to all that the House of Representatives can easily be turned into a beer garden. It turned into a series of “hearings” about de Lima’s personal life. The men in the committee had even scheduled to watch a sex video of de Lima.

Let us name these men and endorse their actions to the judgment of history. Apart from former Speaker Alvarez, they are:
Rudy Fariñas of Ilocos Norte

Raneo Abu of Batangas

Michael John Duavit of Rizal

Romeo Acop of Antipolo

Karlo Nograles of Davao City

Abraham Tolentino of Cavite

Paulino Salvador Leachon of Oriental Mindoro’s 1st District

Eric Martinez of Valenzuela

Danilo Suarez of Quezon province

Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City

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And this is when some of us showed we were brave. 

Irritated by the kabastusan of these honorable men, I asked a few feminist friends to start a Twitter (now X) campaign with the following message: “I would like to testify in the HOR. It was me in the sex video. #EveryWoman.” A dozen or so of us tweeted this message at 12 noon on September 30. It took off. I would like to believe that the popularity of the tweet took the stiffness out of the nether lands of  the tawdry House committee.

Then, the drug charges came from the Department of Justice under Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II in February 2017, which resulted in her arrest and detention a week later. Promoters of this inequity included former legal counsel and spokesperson Sal Panelo and all-around Duterte cheer leader Harry Roque.

The prosecution of the charges against De Lima was when the crime of violence against women got compounded by other criminal activities like the coercion of witnesses. Duterte came to power on a law and order platform, but that obviously meant a harsh form of law and order for people they considered less important like drug addicts, women and political enemies and the order of the brothel for the President and his allies.

EveryWoman, which started as a hashtag, eventually became a coalition of women’s groups fighting against Duterte’s hatred of women. It also stood by Leila de Lima through the long years of her struggle. We visited her in prison, attended hearings and mobilized various forms of support. It took bravery because during the years when a murderous, testosterone-fueled rage took over the nation, there were times when, even among women’s groups, we stood alone in support of her.

We have documentation of those men and what they said in the slut shaming of the former senator. But we also have documentation of Duterte’s abusive and violent language in general.  What we cannot document fully is the cowardice that took over the government institutions meant to protect people from getting killed without due process or those meant to protect women from violence. Many people copped out by saying “let the courts decide.” This, when the infirmities of the case, the slut-shaming and character assassination, were so obvious. I will take particular note of our Supreme Court who denied  De Lima’s habeas corpus petition to stop Duterte’s violence against her in October 2019.

But we do have a list of men and what they said. I hope someday, in a perfect world, all of them, down to the last actor, can be held accountable. Meanwhile, gentlemen, you are pieces of ordure.

Some of us are brave

Lest anyone accuse me of being a man hater, let me tell you that some of us who were brave, were men. Men like Chel Diokno who served as de Lima’s counsel for her habeas corpus petition. Men like Justice Marvic Leonen who dissented on the habeas corpus decision calling it a double standard in the guise of presidential immunity. There were also men like Teddy Rigoroso, who served as legal counsel for De Lima in all her court cases. During the long years of her prosecution, many men were outside the courts urging for her release. Not all men are trash. It was a tragedy though that during the Duterte years, many of the men close to him, would have had me fearful for my safety even in a well-lighted cafe at noon.

In one of her speeches after her release on bail, De Lima noted that justice is not only about those who are innocent being set free, it is also about those who falsely accuse being held accountable.

I hope she files a case against Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court gets him. I hope the likes of Vitaliano Aguirre can be charged too. Perhaps her search for justice and the search of all the victims of Duterte’s evil can serve as one project for national redemption.

Because some of us are brave, but some men belong in jail. – Rappler.com

Sylvia Estrada Claudio is a doctor of medicine who also has a PhD in psychology. She is Professor Emerita of the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She currently serves as head convenor of EveryWoman.


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  1. EJ

    In our midst we really should stand up against dictators. Not only for those who brazenly wield power but also for those who are accomplices and enablers of rotten politicians who will do everything to stay in power. Worst of all they just don’t rob our money gained through our sweat and blood but also our future and the future of those who will come after us. Jail may not be enough punishments for these politicians. God forbid crush their necks.

  2. MR

    These misogynists probably go to church regularly on Sundays and pretend to be pious.

    1. EJ

      I know two. And the whole nation have seen them. 1 with neck brace and the other a serial killer.

  3. RB

    As a man, and a foreign national, I agree with you 100%. I spend my time trying to get more young girls to enter a career in government.
    I also noticed that there were only 2 women in the highest paid government positions.
    Time is overdue for a change in the government from the ground up. This change needs to include a LOT more women until there is parity.

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