Palace: US Senators 'misled' on De Lima's case

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2019 03:54 PM | Updated as of Dec 13 2019 06:23 PM

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo and Senator Leila de Lima. File

MANILA (UPDATE) - US senators who passed a resolution calling for the release of Senator Leila de Lima were "misled" by critics of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, Malacañang said Friday.

US Senate Resolution 142 claimed that De Lima is "a prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression." The same resolution also supported embattled Rappler chief Maria Ressa.
But Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo insisted that De Lima was afforded due process, as he criticized members of the US Senate committee that passed the resolution.

"Apparently they have been misled by the reports coming from the opposition, as well as media outlets who had been biased against the administration," Panelo said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar meanwhile said it was "highly impudent" for the US Senate committee to pass such a resolution.

"To try to strong-arm the government into freeing Senator De Lima and dropping charges against Maria Ressa is infringing on our country's legal process and system, to which they have no say whatsoever," Andanar said in a statement.

De Lima, one of President Duterte’s fiercest critics, was accused of accepting payoffs from convicted drug lords during her time as justice chief and has been detained in Camp Crame since February 2017.

She has repeatedly dismissed the allegations against her as “political persecution.”

Panelo said US senators backing her should study the Philippines' legal system to avoid making wrong comments.

"Eh siguro dapat mag-aral sila, pag-aralan nila kung ano ang prosesong dinadaanan natin, para hindi sila nagkakamali at hindi sila dapat nakikinig sa mga sabi-sabi, iyong mga nababasa nila sa diyaryo, iyong mga natatanggap nilang mga liham kung saan-saan galing at nagsasabing si Senator De Lima ay pini-persecute – hindi totoo iyon.

(They should study our legal processes so they won't make mistakes. They shouldn't listen to hearsay, and shouldn't easily believe letters claiming that Senator De Lima is being persecuted. That's not true.)

De Lima was indicted based on testimonies of high-profile convicts who claimed she was involved in the drug trade at the national penitentiary during her time as justice chief. 

She has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying they were politically charged.