Free Leila: Robredo, et al seek De Lima's release after 1,000th day in detention

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2019 07:40 AM | Updated as of Nov 21 2019 06:48 AM

MANILA (UPDATE)—Leaders, activists and organizations from around the world have urged the Philippine government to free Sen. Leila de Lima, who is spending her 1,000th day in jail over what they called trumped-up and politically-motivated illegal drug charges.

In a full-page ad published Wednesday on national broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer, a group called Committee for the Freedom of Leila M. De Lima released a statement on the "unjust and indefinite detention" of the Philippine lawmaker, who was allegedly prosecuted with the use of dubious testimonies.

"Given the dubiousness of the charges against Senator Leila M. de Lima and the indubitable violations of her rights, we urge the Government of the Philippines to immediately free Senator Leila de Lima, and to drop the charges against her," it read.

"Remedying Senator de Lima’s situation without delay is a demonstration to the Filipino people and the international community that the Philippines can still stand with the rest of the world in defense of freedom and human rights."

Among the more than 300 signatories are:

Vice President Leni Robredo, former Philippine president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairman Chito Gascon, Lawyer Rene Saguisag, Solita Collas Monsod, Ruben Carranza, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, Asian legislators, members of European parliament and Brazilian Sen. José "Bebeto" Roberto.

The signatories also denounced the "unabated public vilification" suffered by De Lima from President Rodrigo Duterte and his supporters. 

The senator, they said, has been "an object of verbal assault, sexist tirade, false information and hate speech" in media and social media.

De Lima, a fierce critic of Duterte's centerpiece policy against illegal drugs, has been detained since February 2017 for allegedly pocketing drug payoffs from convicted crime lords at the National Bilibid Prison when she was still justice secretary. She had denied wrongdoing.

She also launched a Senate probe on the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country linked to the administration's war on drugs.

De Lima, in a statement, thanked her supporters and said her detention is "a platform to tell the story of thousands of others" who were victims in the administration's drug war.

"What is 1,000 days of detention to the eternal agony of a mother who lost her beloved child in a sham war against drugs?" she said, referring to herself as the "proudest detainee" of the PNP Custodial Center.

"When I surrendered to the arresting officers on February 24, 2017, I said that it is my honor to be jailed for my convictions. Today, 1,000 days since my arrest, I say it again: Karangalan ko po na makulong dahil sa mga ipinaglalaban ko. Palagian po nating tandaan: hindi laging maghahari ang dilim. Our truth will defeat their lies."