On political prisoners, De Lima arrest and the need for fundamental change
Political persecution through the filing of legal cases is nothing new, especially in a society where the scales of justice tilt against the poor who dare challenge existing norms and who struggle to change the system. Even before the jailing of one's political rivals became a practice among political factions, the most brutal forms of repression were unleashed among progressives and revolutionaries.
The 402 political prisoners, 30 among them arrested under the Duterte presidency and 283 arrested during the Aquino presidency, and many before them are testament to this - arrested in the dead of the night, no warrants of arrests, no due process rights, defective warrants, torture, tortuous trials, military backed witnesses who churn out myths and tales, wrongful convictions, inhumane treatment in jail.
De Lima is not the first political prisoner under Duterte. Romeo Loren, peasant and political prisoner at the BJMP Lupon Davao Oriental, arrested on July 28, 2016, political activist Ferdinand Castillo and development workers Rogina Quilop, Sarah Alikes and Amy Pond are among the 30 political prisoners arrested under the Duterte administration and are still detained up to present. Her supporters' claims that she is the first political prisoner deny the existence of political prisoners arrested under Duterte and the continuing people's struggle.
Despite these, it also doesn't negate the view that Sen. De Lima is facing this kind of political vendetta and harassment from the Duterte administration because she is a critic of the administration.
It also doesn't negate the view that the vicious cycle of putting one faction's political rivals in jail is an indication of the crisis among those in power. We are witnessing the wrangling of factions of the elite, who at many times played deaf to the persecution and killing of peasants, workers and struggling communities, to maintain the status quo and to support those in power.
These and more are among the reasons why radical and fundamental change is necessary, because while the actors' names and faces may have changed, thirty one years after Edsa 1, the system remains as oppressive and repressive for the majority.