Dose of her own medicine
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - August 22, 2016 - 12:00am

Life, as former president Joseph Estrada put it, is just "weather-weather lang." And if senator Leila de Lima now considers herself persecuted, her nights sleepless, her moments consumed by mental anguish, she can always console herself with the thought that she is not alone. A name she might consider as fitting company is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a victim of her own persecution.

"Weather-weather" simply means that sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. It means further that it is never good to feel so high and mighty because you never know when, in the changing fortunes of time, it is your turn to be so down and trodden. It is the Golden Rule said another way, now applied on de Lima in all its golden majesty.

What is truly amazing is not that the Golden Rule could apply to de Lima so quickly, or that it applied to her at all, because it always does. What is amazing in her case is her ability to feign surprise, as if she really did not know what hit her, and then act like a victim, as if she did not truly deserve it. But she knows because God always makes sure of that.

There was a time when, as Noynoy Aquino's justice secretary, de Lima knew almost no limits to her authority and power. Remember when, with absolutely no legal basis, she denied Arroyo her right to travel and seek medical attention abroad for what was potentially a life-threatening neck and spinal condition? Remember what her reason was for stopping Arroyo? Why, it was nothing more substantial than that she suspected Arroyo might not return. Her suspicions prevailed over Arroyo's rights.

Arroyo was free to go. At the time de Lima stopped her at the airport, no legal impediment was pending before Arroyo in any court in the land. No charges for anything were pending anywhere. But so mesmerized was de Lima with the reflected arrogance and power of Noynoy that she even had the gall to defy a Supreme Court TRO that effectively allowed Arroyo to leave anytime and for anywhere she wished.

It was only after Arroyo was prevented from leaving and subsequently detained that a judge was quickly found to legitimize the assault on Arroyo's rights. An arrest warrant was hastily issued just hours after charges were speedily filed. The judge was later quickly and quietly promoted. But for four years the case against Arroyo did not move, until the Supreme Court finally ordered her freed for insufficiency of evidence.

Now it is the turn of de Lima to twist in the wind. But unlike Arroyo who bore her suffering and torment with quiet dignity, de Lima is all over the media to demand the same respect and fair play that she once famously denied Arroyo. Good for her that her enemy then had been a sick former president. Now her enemy is neither sick nor erstwhile, but a tough and uncompromising sitting president.

Oh how de Lima cries foul now and complains of abuse of power, things that never meant anything to her when it was she who carried out the vindictive wishes of her boss blindly and uncompromisingly, to the eternal discredit of the justice she was supposed to dispense and guard as head of the justice department. But while de Lima suddenly gets afflicted with persecution complex and plays victim to the hilt, she avoids the gauntlet Duterte has thrown at her.

I never liked de Lima since the bus hostage crisis at the Luneta. Noynoy asked de Lima to investigate and file a report. When her report found his buddies liable for the fiasco, Noynoy threw the report away. More honorable and self-respecting officials would have promptly resigned. De Lima did not. She clung to her post and regained Noynoy's trust by her unquestioning usefulness in going after his enemies.

But while I do not like de Lima and have very little respect for her, I still would not do what Duterte just did to her — calling her out as someone who took her married driver as a lover and used him to allegedly collect money from drug lords in Bilibid prison during the election campaign. I think that was a bad thing to do. But I am just me. I am not Duterte. And myself aside, it is about time de Lima got her come-uppance. She finally got a dose of her own medicine.

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