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De Lima’s bizarre award confirms: US media on an all-out campaign to take out Duterte

IF you didn’t notice, even the Liberal Party and other Yellow leaders didn’t profusely congratulate the jailed Sen. Leila de Lima for her inclusion by Fortune magazine in its 2018 list of “50 World’s Greatest Leaders.”

I guess even they felt that the award was so bizarre, so over the top in the magazine’s attempt to paint her as the Philippine version of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, that it was embarrassing.

I don’t think even Yellow leaders Benigno Aquino and Mar Roxas would say that De Lima ranks with such personalities in the 2018 list as Bill and Melinda Gates (the biggest philanthropists of all time), French President Emmanuel Macron, and tennis champion Serena Williams. Why, De Lima at the 39th slot even outranks SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell (42nd) and Ana Botin (46th), the first female to head a world-class bank. If you still don’t realize how perplexing de Lima’s inclusion in the list is, past members of this super-elite list (started in 2014) were Pope Francis (for two years), Germany’s Angela Merkel, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is assuming the stature of the titan Mao Zedong.

C’mon, I don’t think there’s anybody who would even objectively put De Lima in a list of 100,000 greatest leaders of the world. She couldn’t even influence her lover, her driver Ronnie Dayan, not to testify against her. Who is she leading?

Fortune’s explanation on why De Lima landed in its list is so grossly inaccurate it boggles the mind:

“President Rodrigo Duterte’s hardline policies against drug dealers are polarizing globally, but in the Philippines they’ve faced little dissent. De Lima, who headed a committee investigating hundreds of extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s leadership, has been a noble exception. Last February she was arrested and jailed for as-yet-untried crimes, but imprisonment hasn’t stopped the firebrand from continuing to speak out publicly.”

Huge lies
How can a purportedly world-class media outfit print such huge lies?

If the committee it mentioned was the Commission on Human Rights that De Lima headed during President Arroyo’s administration, it did investigate the alleged “death squads” of Davao City. Its report though was inconclusive, and didn’t accuse Duterte of anything. It merely asked the justice department to further investigate the allegations.

If the committee was the Senate committee on justice that De Lima had headed, it was her colleagues in the 2016 senatorial elections, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, and Joel Villanueva, Senator Grace Poe who ran against Duterte in that election, and nearly all of its members, who voted to remove her as its chairman. Gatchalian very aptly explained why: She was making the committee “a hollow vehicle for the fulfillment of personal political vendettas.”

That committee when it was co-chaired by the independent senators Richard Gordon and Panfilo Lacson concluded after six hearings that “there is no sufficient evidence to prove Duterte’s administration is sponsoring summary killings” in the country.

“Arrested and jailed for as yet-untried-crimes”?
It was De lima who delayed the trial against her by filing a case at the Supreme Court that she should be tried not by the regular courts but by the Sandiganbayan. That was a preposterous claim, intended to delay a trial. Any college student would know that since the charges against her were for her involvement in the illegal drug trade, it is a regular court that will try her. The Sandiganbayan is a special court that tries cases of government corruption.

Eight months after De Lima filed the case at the Supreme Court, it threw it out October last year. But she filed another petition asking to change its decision. The Court, after a thorough review, upheld its decision last week. Yet Fortune claims that De Lima is in jail without trial?

Fortune doesn’t even mention that De Lima is in jail on horrendous illegal-drug charges. One of these would be shocking to Westerners: The Bilibid prison, purportedly the country’s high-security prison where the most terrible criminals are jailed, had been transformed when it was under De Lima’s supervision as justice secretary, into a command and even distribution center of drug lords who had been serving time there.

Bilibid Hilton
And the charges against her aren’t just for command responsibility for this. Witnesses, which included her lover Dayan and the former head of the prison, testified that she was getting huge amounts of bribes so she would allow the national penitentiary to be a command center of drug lords. These criminals were even allowed to construct hotel-like facilities where they lived, that the prison had been dubbed the Bilibid Hilton.

The shocking details of De Lima’s involvement were even televised in the hearings by the House of Representatives justice committee which heard hour upon hour of testimony from more than 30 witnesses, which even included the former head of the prison and the drug lords themselves.

I am belaboring the point: Not by any stretch of the imagination is there an iota of truth in Fortune’s portrayal of De Lima as a “prisoner of conscience,” much less as among the world’s greatest leaders for 2018. Even her colleagues at the Liberal Party have started to ignore her that no leader of the opposition has even visited her in the past several months.

But there is reason for Fortune’s madness in including her in its list of world leaders. The bizarre award, just like the Pulitzer Prize recently given to Reuters’ extremely biased series on “Duterte’s War,” is part of the US media’s heightened campaign—helped by the Yellow Cultists and especially by a New York-based Filipino-American tycoon—to bring down this President, by portraying him to the world as a mass murderer.

Over-used narrative
It is an old, over-used narrative that the American media has often deployed that it is so transparent: A persecuted woman who boldly defies a strongman, as in the case of Cory Aquino or Aung San Suu Kyi, both of whom ironically turned out to be worse in terms of adherence to human rights than the dictators they brought down.

Why would US media do that? Partly because of its mindset that it is the world’s champion of human rights, and after Duterte was tagged as violator, it ignores whatever proof presented that he is not. Media as anywhere in the world delights in fighting a perceived evil-doer, and they believe US journalists are infallible.

There is though a more important reason: Duterte is the first ever Philippine president to defy the US which has been the country’s master for decades. He is bringing the country closer to the emerging superpower, China, which the US perceives as its biggest competitor, and even enemy in the coming decades. He is moving in his own way to weaken US hegemony in the world, and to usher in a multi-polar world.

The US’ Deep State just cannot allow that, especially as other nations may just follow Duterte’s precedent.


Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
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