De Lima thanks US, Canada for support in sanctioning Duterte gov't

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 23 2019 03:32 PM

MANILA - Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday warned the Duterte government that "accountability is coming" after the US and Canada expressed support in imposing sanctions on officials behind her arrest.

US President Donald Trump signed a 2020 appropriations bill last Friday which includes a provision that allows the US to apply the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and sanction Philippines officials involved in the "wrongful imprisonment" of De Lima since 2017.

The law authorizes the US government to sanction those who it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the US.

De Lima said Trump's signature "signifies a solid recognition by the US government that I am a clear victim of political persecution."

Malacañang, however, has repeatedly slammed US measures calling for the release of De Lima.

The detained senator said it was "only a matter of time" before other nations follow suit in sanctioning the Duterte administration.

"Systematic and widespread violation of human rights, like what we experience under the Duterte regime, is not an exercise of sovereignty or independence," she said in a statement.

"It is a crime against humanity that must be condemned and punished with sanctions by the community of nations, as it is now being punished by the US Congress."

De Lima also thanked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who, she said, directed his foreign minister to penalize rights violators by "building on the US Magnitsky Act."

“The recent move of PM Trudeau to propose hefty sanctions for perpetrators of human rights abuses globally is a step in the right direction which reminds the world that rights violations should and never be tolerated by all countries and its leaders,” she said.

De Lima, a staunch critic of the government's war on drugs, was initially charged with illegal drug trading but prosecutors spent months amending the information to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading despite the senator's objection.

De Lima was arraigned only in August 2018 or 18 months after she was arrested. Six judges have also withdrawn from handling the cases either by inhibiting from the case or by retiring.

--With reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News