Leila de Lima

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Leila de lima explaining.jpg

Leila de Lima is the current secretary of the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ).

De Lima is a mother of two boys, Israel and Vincent Joshua, and grandmother of two, Brandon and Hannah.


Early Life

De Lima was born on 27 August 1959 in Iriga, Camarines Sur. She is the eldest daughter of former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Vicente B. de Lima and Norma E. Magistrad.


De Lima graduated from La Consolacion Academy in Iriga. She then went to the De La Salle University, graduating with a degree in political science in 1980. She placed 8th in the 1985 bar exam after completing her law degree in San Beda College that year.


Commission on Human Rights

Prior to being appointed secretary of the DOJ, de Lima was the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from 2008 to June 2010. During her term, de Lima was active in addressing the growing number of cases of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture during the Arroyo administration. With her reputation as a human rights defender, GMA Network recognized her as the nation’s “Public Servant of the Year” in 2009.

Despite her accolades, party-list group Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) accused de Lima of being biased in favor of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) because of her relation to Julieta de Lima, wife of CPP founder Jose Maria Sison.

Department of Justice

De Lima (middle) as depicted by cartoonist Zeus Agustin,

On 30 June 2010, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III appointed de Lima to head the DOJ. As secretary of the department, she initiated the review of the case of the Maguindanao Massacre. During an investigation of the said case, de Lima exposed an alleged bribe offered by an “emissary” of the Ampatuan clan to a witness. She also ordered the review of the Morong 43 case and the arrest of senator Panfilo Lacson in connection with the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

In October 2011, de Lima ordered the Bureau of Immigration to place Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) and former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in its watchlist on charges of plunder and electoral sabotage. Prior to that, the secretary placed the former first couples' son Juan Miguel Arroyo of the Ang Galing Pinoy party-list and his wife Angel on watchlist on cases of tax evasion.

Arroyo earlier planned to go abroad to seek medication for her alleged spine problem. The former president likewise insisted that the watchlist order is unconstitutional because the cases filed against her are still pending in the DOJ and are not yet filed in the Sandiganbayan (Anti-Graft Court of the Philippines). However, upon the recommendation the of Department of Health, de Lima reaffirmed the watchlist order and cited "national interest" as the premise of the order. Arroyo's camp then filed a petition for temporary restraining order (TRO) against the immigration watchlist order in the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC), which was granted by the court en banc via an 8-5 vote.

Nonetheless, de Lima stood firm on her order, even requesting the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines through the Department of Transportation and Communications to bar the Arroyos from leaving the country. This led to a dramatic commotion in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on 15 November 2011, when Arroyo and her husband failed to board a flight booked for Singapore due to de Lima's insistence on the watchlist order.

As such, de Lima was accused by the Arroyo camp for disrespecting the ruling of the Supreme Court and the basic human rights of the Arroyo couple. De Lima, however, contradicted the Supreme Court decision, saying that there were no oral arguments before the issuance of the said TRO.

Supreme Court of the Philippines Chief Justice nomination

De Lima got six nominations and three opposition letters to her nomination for Chief Justice. Among the reasons cited in these opposition letters were:

  • As the President's alter ego, she cannot be impartial and independent
  • She did not follow SC's TRO allowing GMA to leave the country in 2010
  • She has a pending disbarment case which involved statements she made against then Chief Justice Renato Corona
  • She has three pending graft cases which had to be dismissed before the Judicial and Bar Council votes on the Chief Justice shortlist

Other positions held

  • Professor of Law (Election Law, Business Organizations, Persons and Family Relations, Transportation Law, Statutory Construction), San Beda College of Law, 1986 – 1994, 2006 – 2007
  • Partner, De Lima Law Firm, 1998 – 2008
  • Junior Partner, Roco, Buñag, Kapunan and Migallos, 1995 – June 1998
  • Junior Associate, Jardeleza Law Offices, 1991 – 1992
  • Junior Associate, Jardeleza Sobreviñas Diaz Hayudini and Bodegon Law Offices, 1989 – 1991
  • Confidential Attorney, Supreme Court Associate Justice Isagani A. Cruz, 1986 – 1989

Awards and recognition

Leila de lima man of the year.JPG
  • "Man of the Year" for 2010, Philippines Graphic magazine
  • Gawad Lingkod Masa Awardee, 2010
  • 2010 Metrobank Foundation Professorial Chair for Public Service and Governance
  • Excellent Public Servant Award, Defender of People’s Rights, “Agent of Change” Awardee, 2010
  • GMANews TV’s Public Servant of the Year, 2009
  • Philippine Quality Service Award of Excellence, 2009
  • Sumagang Award for Outstanding Achievements in Government Service, 2009
  • 3rd Bayi Citation, 2009
  • Raul S. Roco Award for Public Service Excellence, 2009
  • Urban Poor Person of the Year Award, 2008


External links



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