Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima welcomed the Resolution published by the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) reiterating its call for her release and the dropping of all politically-motivated drug charges against her.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said she is grateful for the mounting calls for her release, especially after several witnesses recanted their testimonies against her.
“The recent CALD Resolution, along with the continued support from local and international organizations, is a proof that the world continues to watch and observe the developments in the trumped-up drug charges against me, and will never turn a blind eye to injustices and political persecution,” she said.
“I thank the members of CALD for demanding for my freedom and insisting to hold accountable all those responsible for my unjust detention,” she added.
In CALD Resolution No. 1, S. 2022 released last May 18, the member-parties of the Council noted that De Lima has been in detention for more than five years now on multiple drug cases which are widely perceived as fabricated and politically motivated.
“The case of Senator de Lima proved that the Philippine legal system can be used against government critics, and that the charges against her are nothing but a product of a long-standing conspiracy involving high government officials from the legislative and executive branches to silence and intimidate her,” the Resolution read.
The said Resolution calls for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman “to launch an independent, impartial investigation and bring to justice those responsible for the frame-up of Senator de Lima.”
CALD, whose current Chairperson is Philippine Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, likewise implored the DOJ “to drop all remaining charges against Senator de Lima, given that the recent recantations of prosecution witnesses show that the lawmaker is just a victim of the Duterte administration’s vindictiveness”
The Resolution cited the recantation of self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, former Bureau of Corrections officer in-charge Rafael Ragos and De Lima’s former aide and co-accused Ronnie Dayan who all stated that they were coerced to testify against the Senator.
Through the Resolution, CALD also appealed to the international community “to continue to put pressure on the Philippine government, including the incoming administration, to release Senator de Lima.”
Finally, CALD underscored the need to “uphold and defend the rule of law and democratic values, especially in the face of intensifying threats to freedom in the Philippines and in other parts of Asia.”
As one of the many international organizations that have consistently expressed their belief in De Lima’s innocence, CALD has issued a number of resolutions and statements calling for the dismissal of the trumped-up charges against the Senator and her immediate and unconditional release.
In a joint Resolution adopted on Aug. 23 2019, CALD and the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) urged the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) to “raise the issue of the worsening state of democracy and human rights in Southeast Asia, especially in relation to the attacks faced by the political opposition in Cambodia and the Philippines.”
De Lima has consistently and firmly asserted her innocence in the cases filed against her. Due to lack of evidence, one of the three trumped-up drug charges against her has already been dismissed, which she called a “moral victory.” The two other cases are still pending. (30)