De Lima thanks Amnesty International for calling anew for her immediate and unconditional release


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima expressed her gratitude to Amnesty International (AI) after the international human rights group once more urged Philippine authorities to withdraw all charges against her and to release her from unjust detention.

De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said that AI’s statement is another proof that the world continues to observe the dwindling human rights situation in the Philippines which alarmingly worsened during the Duterte Administration.

“Let me express my most profound gratitude for your continuing support and concern on my plight as a prisoner of conscience, and for your renewed call for my immediate and unconditional release.

“Indeed, the world continues to watch and observe the human rights situation here in the Philippines worsened by the current vindictive regime,” De Lima said in her letter addressed to the members of AI.

“It really means a lot to always have you, a respected and well-established international organization, standing by my innocence. Thank you for using your platform to raise awareness on my situation, especially now that several witnesses have already retracted their allegations against me,” she added.

De Lima was referring to AI’s May 24, 2022 statement after several witness recanted their allegations against her, claiming that they have been threatened and coerced by state agents and key government officials who conspired to make false claims against her and implicate her to illegal drug trading.

“Three witness against prisoner conscience Senator Leila de Lima have retracted their testimonies against her. They include a former government official who remains a prosecution witness and whose testimony was cited by a court in deciding to proceed with the trial,” AI said in their press release.

“As it becomes clear that the charges against her were fabricated from the start, these charges must now be dropped, and De Lima must be released immediately and unconditionally,” it continued.

AI is referring to the recantations of self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and De Lima’s former aide Ronnie Dayan.

 All three personalities claimed that they were coerced and threatened by police authorities and key allies of President Rodrigo Duterte including former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and the late Representative Rey Umali.

De Lima’s camp believes that these recent developments greatly weaken the charges against the Senator and should be enough to dismiss the remaining two cases against her, or, at the very least, to grant her the right to post bail.

AI is one of many international bodies and organizations who has consistently supported De Lima’s claim of innocence since she was arrested in February 2017. To recall, De Lima was chosen by AI as its first recipient of the Ignite Award for “Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender” in 2018.

To contribute to accountability and justice for victims of EJKs, AI also pressed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to “establish an independent investigative mechanism mandated to conduct an in-depth investigation into human rights violations and abuses in the Philippines.”

AI also urged the International Criminal Court (ICC), through the Office of the Prosecutor, to expedite its preliminary examination of the human rights situation in the country. (30)

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