The prey is now the predator
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

Few days ago, Senator Leila de Lima, obtained a reported 48-hour leave from the court to visit her ailing mother in Iriga City. As we all know, she has been in jail for such a long time that my senior citizen’s short memory has somewhat forgotten her already. It must have been a forlorn trip for the feisty senator, not only because she was to visit an old and sickly mother but because she was directed to gag her mouth during her brief sojourn.

A TV channel that covered De Lima’s unusual homecoming featured a background story on her incarceration. It was quite instructive. A motley of video footages apparently kept in the TV channel’s library proved to be a credible documentary of de Lima situation. I was somehow persuaded. Years back, when she headed the government’s justice department, she spearheaded an investigation into human rights violations in Davao City. A killing rampage was reportedly taking place there and the alleged culprit was a group that spelled specter in its name --Davao Death Squad. Some reported circumstantial evidence linking the DDS to unspeakable acts of violence was uncovered. It seemed to me there were serious efforts to link the criminal activities of the DDS to the sitting mayor, now the incumbent president.

At the center of the reported investigation, if I were to interpret the TV news summary, was a De Lima swagger. She was perceived to be acting more of a determined prosecutor than an impartial investigator. Her prey was a city mayor and their roles were indelibly cast.

The documentary continued, footage of an infuriated President Rodrigo Duterte in the early days of his administration was shown.

His words, like in other times when he was joking, didn’t appear verily presidential. But in that video clip what he said jolted me. I do not know if I got him correctly but did Duterte say “You De Lima, I’ll destroy you publicly”? To confess, it was my first time to see that video and to me it said a lot.

The accusation that she is a protector of the illegal drug trade unfurled in a Senate investigation supposedly in aid of legislation. Convicted criminals spoke. While in prison they somehow lived the incredible life, doing illegal business not even free men can indulge. And their testimonies somehow carried tremendous weight! The lawyer in me found it ridiculous to lend the slightest credence to their utterances. On their supposed oath, De Lima was their protector.

Fast forward to the present. Aided by hindsight unraveled by the documentary, I now begin to understand her sad predicament. In attempting to bring to justice a city mayor, she stepped on the toes of the man who would later rise to the presidency. Unfortunately, their roles have changed. The former prey is now the predator.

De Lima, notwithstanding her protestations of innocence, is publicly destroyed. Duterte’s words have come true. Even if she is proven innocent of all charges, her image is already desecrated.

Let me go beyond De Lima. What happened to her is a fair indication of the kind of perilous travails to expect for everybody (including Vice President Robredo, and bishops Bacani, David, and Villegas) who gets entangled with Duterte.

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