Who cries for de Lima?

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

Senator Leila de Lima has only herself to blame for the sudden collapse of her world, a collapse that nobody mourns. For hers was a world marked by the misuse of power that was not even hers to begin with. The power vested in her would have been so admirable in a woman imbued with a singular unwavering purpose - to wield it in the name of justice. If only the targets were not pre-selected. If only they did not happen to be all political enemies of her boss.

De Lima was not being forthright in the extrajudicial killings inquiry she started at the Senate. It was clear from what she left out and what she looked into that she never intended to find out what she can about extrajudicial killings per se, only about extrajudicial killings that might be attributed to President Duterte. An inquiry that proceeds from an infirmity never gains strength as it goes. It can only grow weaker as it gets exposed for what it truly is.

De Lima did not come to the table with clean hands. If she had been true to the stated nature of her inquiry, as what its own name suggested, she would have started right where the supposed extrajudicial killings began - in the dying months of the previous regime. De Lima could not have missed the fact that the killings started right on the day after the May 9 elections. That is, unless she deliberately chose to ignore it.

And de Lima had plenty of reasons to want to ignore it. For if the extrajudicial killings started on May 10, that can only mean her boss, then president Noynoy Aquino would have to answer for nearly two months of them. It was not until June 30 that he stepped down from office, remember? Now, not that Noynoy had anything to do with the killings, but if de Lima had an iota of fairness in her, she was bound as a matter of obligation to summon Noynoy to the hearings.

But it was something she could not do. So she started way off from where any honest-to-goodness inquiry would have taken it first. Instead of trying to clear a straight path ahead, she made a sudden left turn. But as things turned out, it was not really as abrupt as it appeared. It was really where she wanted to go in the first place – to Davao City, to a time when Duterte was still mayor, a time she once also investigated in a different capacity, to no significant effect.

This was all unfinished business for de Lima, only this time there could be unseen hands impelling her forward than just some residual human rights momentum from back in the day when probably she still had her priorities straight. The fixation on Duterte, just mounted on the presidency with lots of political capital, is really surprising. A new presidency is simply too much for any one person to take on, unless that person is assured of a failsafe fallback, or has simply no choice.

Whether acting on her own or at the behest of others, de Lima clearly and miserably misappreciated the environment into which she chose to play out whatever agenda that was before her. It was not as if she was going to church to pray in silence. She knew perfectly that she was walking into a virtual den of lions. And you just do not barge in on lions and start slapping them around.

Moreover, the lions belong to a large family of big cats. And while they often cannot tolerate one another, they share a common viciousness and ferocity. You make so much noise, you awaken the instinctive need to prey. For a woman as intelligent as de Lima, it is strange how could she have completely ignored the House of Representatives as if it did not exist? How could she not have seen that almost the entire House already jumped ship and are now with Duterte and thus her enemies?

Did de Lima ever think that just because they used to enjoy the good times together under Noynoy that the congressmen would remember? For whatever reason that she did not see what was coming, now de Lima knows that the good times do not last forever. More importantly, now she knows that it is never good to abuse power because it just might run out on you one day. And indeed it did. De Lima is now spinning in the wind, at nobody's mercy but the fates she tempted.

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