Palace dismisses De Lima’s suit vs Duterte: Just diversionary tactic

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  • Presidential spokesperson dismissed senator’s habeas data against president
  • He said it was her tactic to deflect accusations against her
  • He also accused De Lima of playing the victim card, using her gender to shield herself

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella dismissed the habeas data suit filed by Sen. Leila de Lima against President Rodrigo Duterte, saying it was nothing more than a diversionary tactic to take the heat off her amid accusations of her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

“Senator De Lima’s filing of a petition before the Supreme Court is calculated to generate media noise to drown out the accusations against her,” GMA News quoted him as saying.

Abella also accused the senator of playing the victim and using her gender to shield herself from her liabilities.

“Senator Leila de Lima is apparently playing the gender card as a shield against mounting evidence of her ties with high-profile drug lords and the proliferation of drug trade in the Bilibid,” he said.

De Lima earlier filed the suit to test the waters of presidential immunity, saying that her private life was being incessantly attacked by the president and the administration.

The writ of habeas data is described as “a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.”

The senator’s counsel, De La Salle College of Law founding dean Jose Manuel Diokno, said Duterte’s remarks against De Lima cannot be shielded by presidential immunity as it is not of his official functions.

“We expect that the government will say that President Duterte is immune from suit, that is probably the main defense that they will raise but in our view when the president acts in this manner that is no longer part of his official duties and responsibilities,” he said.