How staged!

It is a testament to Leila de Lima’s unpopularity and lack of credibility that a huge chunk of the internet population waxed cynical about the escape try in Crame last 10 October where, according to reports, she was briefly taken hostage by an inmate, who was subsequently killed.

De Lima, notwithstanding all the advantages of incumbency — placed 23rd in a re-election bid where only the top 12 would be proclaimed winners. Accepting defeat, she then shifted all her public relations efforts into magnifying recantations of a few witnesses, segueing into her allies’ calls for her to be freed and for the new administration’s Justice Department to initiate the process therefor.

It is in the wake of being rebuffed by both Justice Secretary Remulla and the President himself, that the hostage-taking happened. To many, it was just part of the ongoing moro-moro (no pun intended although the concerned prisoners were Muslims) to generate sympathy for De Lima.

While many say that the hostage incident was too complicated to be staged, many others have put forward many questions which remain unanswered: Why would the surviving prisoner rush to De Lima’s cell, of all detainees? Why was her prison cell open and not locked? Why did pictures of her cell show it to be as well-furnished as a middle-class suburban house? Of course, these queries would be best answered by an ongoing investigation.

Simulated or not, De Lima’s political patrons lost no time in exploiting the drama to propound it as another ground for her immediate release. Never mind that countless other inmates in the country’s largely substandard prison facilities face the same dangers daily, if not from rival gang members or bullies, then from disease. It also defies logic for her supporters to insinuate that her being taken hostage has somehow weakened the evidence of drug trafficking against her.

It is unfortunate that visits by high-ranking politicians have somehow lent a color of validity to demands for her release, or at least house arrest. The fact that the President himself has shown concern for her situation, and that Senator Imee has suggested a “home furlough,” has emboldened Leila to assume that the tide of sympathy has shifted in her favor, and she shame-facedly demanded that the President fire some prosecutors whom she alleged to be making life difficult for her defense team. The absurdity of the situation is that having been Justice Secretary herself, she should know that these prosecutors are just doing their job, and only too well. Indeed, she may have forgotten that, during her time, she went exceedingly overboard in defying a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court allowing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to travel abroad for medical treatment.

It is also a testament to dilawan hypocrisy that, after firmly refusing a transfer to “safer” facilities, as proposed by the President, De Lima suddenly made a volte-face and accepted relocation to the former quarters of Senator Bong Revilla, perhaps after having been apprised that it had better accommodations and furnishings.

Such is the characteristic duplicity of the opposition that while they were quick to call for Secretary Remulla’s resignation in the wake of his son’s involvement in illegal drugs — even including in their resignation calls Gov. Janvic Remulla and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Director Gilbert Remulla – no such imposition was made on De Lima, who herself was arrested and imprisoned for drug dealing while senator.

It would thus come as no surprise that the general public takes the whole hostage thing as part of another conspiracy to get De Lima off the hook for a heinous crime. After all, the public has long been inured to the opposition lying, cheating, and double-speaking to advance its “selfish” interests. So much so that when reports came of the hostage-taking, a lot of people could only roll their eyes up and exclaim, “HOW STAGED!”

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