One news that completed the work week is the second acquittal of Leila de Lima by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 on her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. The first one was in 2021 when one of the three drug cases filed against her was dismissed by the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 205. But what are the implications of her second victory on former President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs?
Senator Leila de Lima’s acquittal have a number of implications.
Politically, her release or acquittal could affect the power dynamics in the Philippines and could impact the political careers of those involved. It could also be a sign of the country’s commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law. Unfortunately, this also subtly means “Goodbye, Duterte!” for Bongbong Marcos.
Mr. Marcos wants to show the world that his family is back and wanted legitimacy as well global acceptance. His family had been in isolation for decades and will therefore sacrifice some things for a bigger gain. That could include Mr. Duterte’s interests. Second, Mr. Marcos, who made a 180-degrees turn on the Roman Statute, wanted to prove that the rule of law is working in the Philippines. Allowing de Lima to taste justice is a way of proving that the rule of law exists.
De Lima’s acquittal, however, is a blow to the Duterte administration. Her acquittal will just increase scrutiny and criticism of Duterte’s approach to the War on Drugs, which has been heavily criticized by human rights organizations for its alleged extra-judicial killings and abuse of power. With De Lima acquitted, the idea that the War on Drugs is being used as a tool to silence critics and punish political opponents, rather than as a genuine effort to curb drug crime and drug abuse in the country, will just be reinforced.
Lastly, de Lima’s victory is also expected to set a precedent for future cases related to political persecution and human rights violations. It is not just a win for de Lima but also for vocal critics and opposition in the future.