Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima thanked the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) for recently expressing their solidarity with her by condemning her continued political persecution and renewing its call for her release.
In a letter addressed to PGA Secretary General Dr. David Donat Cattin dated May 16, De Lima said she is grateful to the PGA for issuing a statement showing its concern not only for the democracy and rule of law in the Philippines, but also for her plight as a political prisoner unjustly detained for more than five years.
“I cannot express enough my deepest appreciation for your continued concern and solidarity. It gives me strength in my solitude and hope for the future,” she said.
“The statement will be of great help in reminding the Filipino public and their elected representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives of the need to move forward with the struggle for justice and human rights and the strengthening of democratic institutions in the Philippines.
“It also serves as a stark reminder to the incoming administration that the world is aware and continues to observe developments in the Philippines,” she added.
In a statement entitled “Democracy, Human Rights, and Accountability at Grave Stake in the Philippines” published last May 12, PGA expressed its concerns “over the retrogressive developments in the country that marked the last six years.”
“With a democratic system severely flawed, the Duterte regime paved the way for a six-year-long track record of severe human rights violations and attacks on democratic principles and institutions.
“His [Duterte] actions ranged from closing the largest broadcast media network in the country to silencing dissent, such as PGA Member Sen. Leila de Lima – languishing in jail for the last five years – to an unprecedented ‘war on drugs’ leading to torture and thousands of extrajudicial killings as a consequence of police operations,” PGA noted.
To establish the rule of law, PGA reiterated its call “for the immediate and unconditional release of Sen. Leila de Lima, recognized by the United Nations and other institutions as a political prisoner.”
Considered as the “flag-bearer for human rights in the Philippines”, De Lima said she will continue to fight for her advocacies to the utmost in her capacity as a private citizen.
With the retractions made by several witnesses who had previously made statements against her, De Lima said she is optimistic about her chances of regaining her freedom in the near future.
“I continue to hope and pray that as Duterte’s power ends, so will his lies, and that finally the truth shall set me free,” she added.
In 2018, PGA endorsed the findings and recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council—Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNHRC-WGAD), denouncing De Lima’s arbitrary detention and calling for her immediate release. (30)