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Duterte’s chief legal counsel says IPU is ignorant of PHL justice system

The International Parliamentary Union is ignorant of the Philippine justice system for repeatedly raising concerns about the detention of Senate Leila de Lima, President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief lawyer said on Thursday.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the IPU should first educate itself before making such statements.

“The IPU’s resolution reiterating its concern to the continued trial and detention of Sen. De Lima  exposes its ignorance on the workings of the justice system in the Philippines. IPU must educate itself before displaying its total lack of understanding of De Lima’s case,” he said in a statement.

He noted that the senator was accorded due process, saying that a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction issued a warrant for De Lima’s arrest after a judicious determination of the existence of a probable cause for a drug related case filed against her.

“No one is above the law. Her being a senator cannot shield her from the majesty of the law,” said Panelo.   

He further said IPU’s putting to task the Senate to ensure the participation of De Lima in the Senate deliberations “is an outright and outrageous intrusion into the internal affairs of the state as well as an affront to our sovereignty.”

“The members of the IPU should instead focus on the problems of their countries in the matter of violation of human rights as well on the drug menace instead of poking  their fingers on a subject they know nothing about,” he said.

At the closing of its 138th Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland on March 28, the IPU adopted a resolution reiterating its deep concern about of De Lima’s detention.

It said the Senate has a special responsibility to help ensure its colleagues participate in its deliberations and to speak out when they face reprisals for their work

“(IPU) regrets therefore that the Senate has not been able to take a firm stance in favor of De Lima’s direct participation in the Senate’s most important work (and) sincerely hopes that the Senate, under leadership of its President, will finally be able to act in solidarity with its colleague,” it said.

It reiterated its call for De Lima’s immediate release and to abandon the legal proceedings against her unless serious evidence is rapidly forthcoming. —Amita Legaspi/VDS, GMA News