On the 7th of November 2016, Sen. Leila De Lima through his counsel De La Salle University College of Law Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, filed a petition before the Supreme Court asking for special remedy of “Writ of Habeas Data”.
The writ of habeas data is 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 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.
Diokno said “The question we have raised before the Court is simple: Can a sitting president use the resources of his powerful office to wage a personal vendetta against a person … in violation of her right to life, liberty and security?”
This petition is a mockery of the justice system. It has nothing to do with the Presidential Immunity enjoyed by Duterte or the Office of the President. Should this remedy be granted to Leila De Lima, she becomes somehow immune from prosecution/investigation of the DoJ, NBI, PNP, CIDG, OMBUDSMAN and other investigating bodies as the Writ of Habeas Data will barred all agencies and institutions from collecting, gathering, collating, releasing of any documents, information related to or pertaining to the person named in the petition – Leila De Lima.
This petition was filed by the camp of De Lima in anticipation of the cases filed by VACC and Jaybee Sebastian before the DoJ and possible cases from DoJ itself. If SC grants this petition, DoJ will have difficulties producing or collecting evidence against De Lima. And as to the cases already filed against De Lima before the DoJ, will find it difficult to prosper since agencies such as DoJ, NBI, CIDG will be barred from gathering information, conduct surveillance, submit intelligence report and even The Anti–Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will be barred from releasing relevant bank information that may link De Lima to Drug Trafficking and other possible cases that may file against her.
This petition is in total contrast to a proposed bill under HB 3684 authored by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Congress that seeks to grant Duterte special emergency powers “…to inquire into or examine records, logbooks, and registers in cases involving illegal drugs and terrorism with any person, whether natural or juridical, without a court order…”
De Lima’s petition is a mockery to our already crippled justice system. With this petition of Writ of Habeas Data will be her protection against prosecution for her alleged involvement in illegal drug trades while she was the Secretary of Justice if granted by Supreme Court.
The Writ of Habeas Data is a special remedy to be availed only if there is no other recourse available to the petitioner to address the issue. In De Lima’s case, she has all the remedy and the chance to defend, clear her name before the Congress when the later conducted the hearing about the proliferation of illegal drugs in New Bilibid Prison.