In a University of the Philippines (UP) forum entitled “Modernizing Criminal Law by Updating Our Approach to Criminal Behavior: Taking the Path of Transformative Justice”, outgoing Senator and political prisoner Leila de Lima expressed dismay and criticized the criminal justice system for “lacking a soul” and being broken “in body and spirit.”
“Our criminal justice system is broken not just in the ‘how’ but also as to ‘why.’ If it were a person, the criminal justice system is not only broken in body, it is broken in spirit. I would go so far as to say that it is lacking a soul,” she said through her deputy Chief of Staff Catherine Sy on Friday (June 10).
De Lima mentioned that she was “utterly disappointed with the lack of progress in the efforts to modernize our criminal law system is to understate the problem”
She added, “It moves, but never toward anything productive. It moves just for the sake of being able to say that it moves. A zombie in the legal world.”
The senator shared how her extensive detention gave a unique perspective to the criminal justice system of the Philippines. De Lima has been detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City for the past five years for “falsified drug-related charges.”
“Being shown how the wheel of justice operates from all possible sides, I can say that we have to approach criminal laws from a more inquisitive perspective, i.e., one that searches for the anatomy of crimes beyond looking at the motive, the instrumentality and the opportunity of each particular incident,” the senator said.
Calls for the immediate release for De Lima amplified as star witnesses Kerwin Espinosa and Winston Ragos retracted their statements against her.
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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