27 members of the UK Parliament have written a letter to Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio M. Lagdameo expressing concern over the plight of Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima who recently entered her 5th year of unjust detention.
In a letter dated March 1, the UK Parliamentarians added their voices to the growing list of international groups, leaders and personalities who reiterated their call for the release of De Lima, who marked her fourth year in unjust detention last Feb. 24.
“As Senator De Lima enters the fifth year of her incarceration, we add to calls made by many others for her immediate release and an end to the continuing erosion of democratic freedoms in the Philippines,” they wrote.
The signatories in the letter include Rt Hon Dame Diana Johnson, MP (Chair, All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group), Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Harriett Baldwin MP, Paul Blomfield MP, Tracy Brabin MP, Lyn Brown MP, Dawn Butler MP, to name a few.
They said that De Lima’s incarceration is a way for the Duterte regime to show the extent of action they are willing to do to anyone who dares to oppose their policies.
“On February 24, 2017, shortly after initiating a Senate investigation into extra-judicial killings in the Philippines, Senator Leila de Lima was suddenly arrested and jailed on unbailable charges for supposed links to drugs gangs. Four years later she is still being held in Camp Crame detention centre,” they said.
“Senator De Lima’s prosecution appears to have set the pattern for silencing of President Duterte’s opponents, in which either trumped up criminal charges or false accusations of involvement in terrorism are brought against them,” they added.
In the letter, the UK Parliamentarians also condemned the human rights abuses happening under the Duterte regime, including extrajudicial killings.
“President Duterte’s self-styled ‘war on drugs’ has seen an estimated 30,000 extra-judicial killings – along with increased targeting of journalists and human rights defenders, and the undermining of judicial independence,” they said It may be recalled that 78 members of the Parliament of Maldives, political leaders, personalities and various groups from the United States, Europe, Africa, Canada and Australia are among the signatories of the Statement of Indignation which called for the immediate release of De Lima and the dropping of all trumped-up drug charges filed against her. The Statement was released on Feb. 24. (30)