Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today welcomed the outpouring of support from various local and international groups and individuals who are pushing for her immediate release on her second year of unjust detention.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said she is overwhelmed by the trust she gets from her fellow rights defenders despite the ridiculous lies and incredulous accusations brought up against her by the present administration.
“Truth is indeed more powerful than any lies, and it is palpable from the unwavering support I get from individuals from different parts of the world, who, despite the outright and repeated lies thrown against me by the wicked Duterte regime, continue to believe in my innocence and fight for my right to a fair trial,” she said.
“I am beyond grateful for the overwhelming support I am receiving from them during these times when we are all reminded that truth, justice, rule of law, and democracy are under serious attack,” she added.
Various international organizations, human rights advocates, and colleagues have issued separate statements of condemnation on the continued political persecution of De Lima by the government even as they called for her immediate release.
In her recent statement before her fellow legislators in the House of Commons of Canada, Canadian Parliamentarian Anita Vandenbeld urged her colleagues to join her in pressing the Philippine government to release De Lima.
“Today, I am speaking out about the arbitrary detention of Senator Leila de Lima of the Philippines who was jailed two years ago, Mr. Speaker, I ask members to join me in calling for the immediate release of Senator De Lima,” Vandenbeld said.
Prior to Vandenbeld’s call, the Australian Parliament approved the motion of influential member of the Australian Parliament Chris Hayes pressing its government to use all diplomatic means to urge the Duterte administration to release De Lima.
Likewise, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Parliamentarians for Global Action, International Union of Socialist Youth World Council, and FORUM-ASIA issued a joint statement urging the Duterte administration to drop the politically-motivated charges against De Lima whom they labelled as “a prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s abusive ‘war on drugs.'”
The organizations maintained that De Lima’s arbitrary detention is representative of the worsening situation for all human rights defenders in the country.
Aside from calling for an end to all the politically-motivated charges against De Lima, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights welcomed De Lima as its newest member, saying that her “continued imprisonment undermines both democracy and the rule of law in the Philippines.”
Crossing partylines, 18 members of the European Parliament have also urged the European Commission’s Vice President Federica Mogherini to issue an official statement calling for De Lima’s immediate release.
“We therefore urge you and the EEAS to issue a statement for her release, since a fair trial in today’s Philippines is impossible, and to reinforce pressure on the Philippine authorities,” wrote Mogherini, who is also the High Representative for the Union Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in their letter dated last Feb. 24.
In separate statements, Representatives from the Women’s Caucus of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, notably, Emily Lau of the Democratic Party of Hongkong and Jayanthi Devi Balaguru of the International Network of Liberal Women, called on the international community to speak out for De Lima and urge Mr. Duterte to free her.
Lau considered it as an “utter disgrace that a courageous and formidable politician had been locked up for two years on trumped-up charges” while Balaguru said that every day that the Senator spends in jail “is a travesty of justice.”
Liberal International Vice President Kiat Sittheeamorn, meanwhile, said that De Lima should be released from detention so she could fulfil her quest for justice and help more victims of extrajudicial killings and their families.
Other groups and personalities who expressed their solidarity to De Lima include Amnesty Australia, Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division Deputy Director Phelim Kine, Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Liberal Party President and Senator Francis Pangilinan, Sen. Bam Aquino, former Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, senatorial candidates Jose Manuel Diokno, Florin Hilbay, Samira Gutoc and Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano, among others. De Lima, the staunchest critic of the administration’s war on drugs, was illegally detained last Feb. 24, 2017 based on bizarre charges that were all based primarily on perjured testimonies of convicted criminals and manufactured evidence.