De Lima finds ‘gift’ of vindication with US senators’ support

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 31 2019 10:34 PM

Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday thanked two American lawmakers for standing up for her as she remains detained.

“Instead of getting intimidated by Duterte’s retaliatory moves, US Senators (Patrick) Leahy and (Richard) Durbin have bravely stood their ground, and even called out the threat to deny PH visa to Americans,” De Lima said in a handwritten “dispatch” she sent from her detention cell at Camp Crame.

De Lima has been detained since 2017. She and her supporters said she was arrested on trumped-up drug-related charges as part of the administration’s crackdown on its critics.

“Thanks Senators Leahy, Durbin and all other US lawmakers in both Houses of the US Congress that supported the Prohibition on Entry provision and led to its successful passage,” De Lima wrote.

That provision, included in the US government budget, allows the US Secretary of State to bar Filipino government officials from entering the US if they have “credible information” on the “wrongful imprisonment” of De Lima.

Malacañang responded by banning Durbin and Leahy from entering the Philippines.

“This bipartisan support from high-ranking law-and-policymakers in the US has given me a gift I have been longing for: vindication,” De Lima said. 

“Because these veteran US public officials would not be standing with me if they had any doubt about my innocence or the fact that my persecution is an attack, not just against me personally, but against human rights and HR defenders.”