De Lima on Trillanes’ expulsion: A silencing dissent

By , on September 14, 2017

FILE: Sen. Leila de Lima. (Facebook photo)
FILE: Sen. Leila de Lima. (Facebook photo)

Detained Senator Leila De Lima lambasted plans of President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies to kick out Senator Antonio Trillanes IV out of Senate, saying it is not of a punishment but rather a “silencing dissent.”

De Lima said that there were no “objectionable actions” made by Trillanes but only expressing his observations as a member of the Senate.

“That the refusal to even summon members of the First Family, who have been implicated by the testimony of a witness, is inconsistent with the Blue Ribbon Committee’s mandate. If that is unparliamentary conduct, then I guess some people’s conception of parliamentary conduct involves deference to interests other than the truth,” she added.

“The truth is this: Sen. Trillanes’s expulsion is not about punishing so-called “unparliamentary conduct”, but about silencing dissent,” De Lima said.

“If a Senator is going to be expelled for uttering his observations as to the implications of a Senate Committee’s refusal to act – what kind of Senate are we even talking about?,” the lady senator said.

On Tuesday, Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee,  has called to expel Trillanes from the Senate for his “out of line” and “unparliamentary” conduct during a senate investigation.

“I don’t think he belongs in the Senate,” Gordon said in a television interview.

However, De Lima said, “Ironically, Sen. Gordon himself got it right. What we will have is a mob. Mob rule: where the majority can silence the voice of dissent, the voice of the minority; and, with it, can drive another nail into the coffin of our democracy.”

“The day the Senate expels a Senator for alleged acts that are not only in relation to the discharge of his duty as a member of the Senate, but whose purported gravity, in any case, comes nowhere near the gravity of other acts that have merited lesser penalty, is the day that the Senate becomes a mob,” she added.

De Lima stressed that democracy is under attack, saying that there will be a day when cases of extrajudicial killings will no longer the “biggest concern” but the “prospect of the murder of our democracy.”

“That will also be the day when thousands of cases of EJKs would no longer be our biggest concern. Imagine that: rampant, systematic cold-blooded murders being perpetrated against our own people – even victimizing our children – would no longer be the most chilling problem we now face. Because even such heinous crimes pale before the prospect of the murder of our democracy,” she said.

“The looming impeachment of the Chief Justice, the threats to impeach the Ombudsman, the allotment of P1,000 budget for the CHR by the House of Representatives, the plot to file cases against Senator Risa Hontiveros, the threat to file charges against Bishop Ambo David, the removal from Senate protective custody of witnesses who dare bring up allegations of misdeeds against the First Family, the efforts to remove elected officials, including barangay officials to be replaced by presidential appointment – are all acts by which the pillars of our democracy are being toppled over and stomped into the ground,” De Lima added.

“If thousands of people are dying today, imagine how many more will die without even the semblance of democracy? It might be Kian, Carl, “Kulot” and thousand others yesterday; but it could be any one of you, your children, and your loved ones tomorrow. Without the CHR, without an independent Ombudsman, Judiciary and Legislature – who will protect you?,” the lady senator added.