6 US lawmakers call for De Lima's release

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2019 12:08 PM

Detained Senator Leila de Lima waves to her supporters as she arrives at a Metropolitan Trial Court branch in Quezon City on August 2, 2018. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Six members of the US House of Representatives have filed a resolution calling for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima from her 2-year detention. 

De Lima, a fierce critic of the administration's bloody anti-narcotics drive, has been detained since February 2017 for allegedly pocketing drug payoffs from convicted crime lords at national penitentiary when she was still justice secretary. She denied this. 

California Rep. Jackie Speier filed House Resolution 233 "condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima, calling for her immediate release, and for other purposes." 

The resolution was co-sponsored by Massachusetts Rep. James McGovern, Georgia Rep. Henry Johnson, Jr., Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, California Rep. Brad Sherman and Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett. 

It was referred to the US House foreign affairs committee. 

DRUG WAR 

The resolution also called on the US House of Representatives to condemn the Philippine government for "its role in state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings by police and other armed individuals" as part of the war on drugs.

It cited the US state department's 2017 Human Rights Report, which cited several concerns, including "cases of apparent government disregard for legal rights and due process"; political prisoners; and "official corruption and abuse of power." 

De Lima, the resolution noted, was arrested following "a history of criticizing extrajudicial killing." 

It noted that as chair of the Commission on Human Rights, De Lima in 2009 investigated the alleged involvement of President Rodrigo Duterte in the alleged killings by the Davao Death Squad when he was still a mayor of Davao City. 

De Lima, the resolution claimed, is "a prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression." 

It also urged the Philippine government to "recognize the importance of human rights defenders and their work, and allow them to operate freely without fear of reprisal."