The arrest of Senator Leila De Lima has drawn more than a few reactions from both supporters and critics. The hashtag #LeilaWatch has also emerged, with some fearing for the Senator’s life. More than just for her arrest, many are afraid of an unofficial execution for President Duterte’s vocal critic.
“I have no intention to hide,” Leila De Lima said on Thursday night. It was shortly after the warrant for her arrest was issued by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court. “The fight goes on… I will be back tomorrow morning and here, in the Senate, I will wait for the arresting team.”
The arrest was for drug charges. Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella claimed that the arrest demonstrates “the President’s strong resolve to fight pushers, peddlers, and their protectors”.
#LeilaWatch: Fears Of An Execution
The fear now simmering on social media, drawn by #LeilaWatch, arose due to previous deaths that occurred within police protection.
“We fear for Sen. Leila’s life and security given what’s happened to Albuera Mayor Espinosa and Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, who were both killed inside police-controlled facilities,” a statement made by Liberal Party Senators said.
— #SuperficialGazette (@SuperficialGZT) February 24, 2017
Senator Bam Aquino went on to suggest that the administration is arresting Leila De Lima, not because she is a supposed drug criminal, but because she is a critic for them to silence. De Lima had previously launched investigations of the extra-judicial killings occurring under Duterte’s administration.
“Without a paper or money trail, and with only contradicting testimonies from some of the worst criminals in our country, the administration… seeks to arrest its staunchest critic,” Aquino said, “Clearly there is something wrong with this picture.”
Vice President Leni Robredo offered her support for Leila De Lima as well.
“These efforts to smear Senator Leila De Lima are a strong indication that the charges against her arise from a political agenda and not the result of an independent, unbiased legal process,” she said. “Our history as a nation is marred by instances where government officials use the processes of criminal justice to cow, silence, and eliminate critics. We cannot, and we must not, stand by and let this happen again.”
Some voices, such as that of Manuel Quezon III, brought up reminders of De Lima’s right to a fair trial.
All sides who believe in due process can probably agree #LeilaWatch is vital. She must remain safe and free to speak her mind.
— Manuel L. Quezon III (@mlq3) February 24, 2017
If anything untoward happens to Sen. Leila de Lima under care of the PNP, we will know on whom to vent our outrage. #LeilaWatch
— Leah Navarro (@leahnavarro) February 24, 2017
— Kiko Pangilinan (@kikopangilinan) February 24, 2017
Of course, within the commotion raised by the #LeilaWatch, proper due process is second to the simple safety of the Senator. De Lima has spoken out about extra judicial killings before. Now may are also expressing fear of her becoming an EJK victim herself.