Duterte debasing gov’t for ‘personal vendetta’ – Human Rights Watch

MANILA — An international human rights group on Friday said the arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima shows what President Rodrigo Duterte is capable of.

“The arrest of Senator de Lima suggests that Duterte is willing to debase Philippine governance to the level of personal vendetta,” Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch said in an e-mail to INQUIRER.net.

“By arresting Senator Leila de Lima on politically motivated drug charges, President Duterte has effectively expanded his ‘drug war’ from the urban poor to the legislative branch of the government,” Kine, the group’s deputy director for Asia, said.

“Not only Congress, but other pillars of Philippine democracy, from the press to the judiciary, should be worried about the future,” he added.

The group previously called on the government to drop the criminal charges against De Lima who is accused of being involved in the illegal drug trade.

“The Duterte administration seems intent on using the courts to punish prominent critics of its murderous ‘war on drugs’,” Kine said then.

De Lima is among Duterte’s leading critics. As chair of the Commission on Human Rights, she investigated then Mayor Duterte’s links to the Davao Death Squad.

Duterte, who became president last year, has led an aggressive campaign against illegal drugs, resulting in the deaths of thousands of suspected drug users and pushers. /atm