Palace hails Duterte's inclusion in Time's list, decries De Lima's recognition
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Friday hailed President Rodrigo Duterte’s inclusion in the Time Magazine's list of 100 most influential people but decried the magazine’s failure to mention the drug-related charges against his critic Sen. Leila de Lima.
Duterte and De Lima were included in the prestigious list, which also had actors, musicians, politicians, business leaders, activists and scientists.
The Philippine leader was listed among “leaders” while the senator was included in the “icons” category.
While the write-up on Duterte was mostly a rebuke of his brutal war on illegal drugs, De Lima was portrayed as a figure of resistance against a “strongman” rule.
“The fact remains that President Duterte is supported by majority of the Filipinos in his campaign against illegal hard drugs, crime and corruption,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“In the case of Sen. De Lima, Time conveniently failed to clarify that she was jailed not for her criticisms against the administration but because an independent court found probable cause in support of the criminal charges against her for alleged violation of the law on illegal drugs,” he added.
De Lima, who started a Senate inquiry on the killings linked to Duterte’s clampdown on illegal drugs,was arrested and jailed last February on charges that she took bribes from convicted drug lords. She has denied the allegations and claimed that the charges against here were politically motivated.
Duterte also topped the online poll on Time's most influential people, besting Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Pope Francis, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
The Time write-up about Duterte was penned by Cesar Gaviria, the former Colombia president who chased notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.
In a New York Times commentary, Gaviria said Duterte was repeating his mistakes as “throwing more soldiers and police at drug users is not just a waste of money but also can actually make the problem worse.”
Gaviria’s comments did not sit well with Duterte, who fired back at the former Colombian leader by calling him an “idiot.”
In his article about Duterte, Gaviria said the Philippine leader’s approach on narcotics was “as ill-considered as his grasp of history”
“Since Duterte's inauguration last year, some 7,000 people have been killed. His ironfisted strategy alarms governments, human rights organizations and faith-based groups while winning high approval ratings at home,” Gaviria wrote.
“After spending billions, I discovered that the war was unwinnable and the human costs were devastating. The cure was infinitely worse than the disease.”
Gaviria said many more people in the Philippines are likely going to die as Duterte learns his lesson.
In contrast, Samantha Power, a former ambassador to the United Nations, portrayed De Lima as a brave opposition figure.
“Most opposition politicians have kept their heads down, knowing Duterte is both terrifyingly brutal and massively popular. But Senator de Lima has become Duterte's most vocal critic— a role her friends call suicidal,” Power wrote.
Power said De Lima’s imprisonment was a “disturbing testament to the current solidarity among strongmen and the global surge in impunity that De Lima's cause has not been more embraced.”