Home Top News NUPL chief: De Lima case exposes Philippine justice system failures

NUPL chief: De Lima case exposes Philippine justice system failures

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NATIONAL Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) President  Ephraim B. Cortez said the case of former Senator Leila M. de Lima is proof that the Philippine justice system is not working.

“She (Ms. De Lima) was persistently prosecuted by the Department of Justice (DoJ), which by the way is under the Office of the President, despite the ludicrousness of the evidence,” Mr. Cortez said in a Viber message on Saturday.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. previously said Ms. De Lima’s acquittal showed the country’s judiciary and investigative services were effective.

“We still stay with our position that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction in the Philippines because we have a working police force, we have a working Judiciary, and do not require any assistance in that regard,” he said during the National Employment Summit on Thursday last week.

Mr. Cortez countered by saying that ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs proved the judiciary’s failure, with few investigations and convictions.

“There were only a handful who were investigated and prosecuted, and only an insignificant number were convicted,” he said.

He added that despite a change in administration, there has been no thorough investigation into the drug war killings. 

“Marcos cannot claim that the Philippine legal system is working absent any investigation into the commission of crimes against humanity in relation to the drug war, and the investigation of Duterte and his minions for their culpability for such crime,” he said.

A Caloocan court last month convicted four policemen of homicide in a 2016 drug operation, marking only the fourth known conviction related to the drug war.

Ms. De Lima was cleared of her third and last drug charge on June 24, following the dismissal of the first two charges.

The former Human Rights Commission chairperson said Mr. Duterte fabricated the charges after she investigated human rights violations in his drug war.

Mr. Duterte had vowed to destroy Ms. De Lima, accusing her of colluding with drug syndicates while she was Justice Secretary.

She was imprisoned for over six years but was granted bail in November 2023.

The ICC is probing the ex-president, but Mr. Marcos insists the government will not cooperate.

The Philippines withdrew from the ICC in 2019 and took effect a year later.

BusinessWorld reached out to DoJ Spokesman Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV for comments but received no response as of press time. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana

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