Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today thanked the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) for continuously fighting for her right to a fair trial as it reiterated its call for the Philippine government for her immediate release from illegal detention.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said she is also grateful for the IPU’s unwavering effort in urging the legislative chamber to take a firm stand to allow her fulfill her electoral mandate as a sitting senator.
“I humbly thank the IPU, particularly its Governing Council, not only for expressing their serious concern about my continued pre-trial detention but also for putting to task the Senate leadership to ensure that I can continue fulfilling my duty as sitting Senator of the Republic of the Philippines,” she said.
At the closing of its 138th Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland last March 28, the IPU adopted a resolution reiterating its deep concern over the continued pre-trial detention of De Lima more than a year since she presented herself to the authorities over trumped-up drug charges.
The Geneva-based international group noted the mission report of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians which clearly showed that the steps taken against De Lima were in response to her vocal opposition to President Duterte’s war on drugs, and that there is no serious evidence to justify the criminal cases against her.
The IPU further put to task the Senate leadership to ensure that De Lima is allowed to participate in Senate deliberations in fulfillment of her duty as a duly-elected legislator as it urged the relevant authorities to grant her access to Internet, TV and radio to facilitate her parliamentary work.
De Lima said she hopes the IPU’s advice could serve as a “wake-up call” for her Senate colleagues and Duterte’s supporters to stop turning a blind eye on the injustices she is experiencing under the hands of the President.
“The supporters of President Duterte, including Senator Koko Pimentel, should stop avoiding the issue about my continued unjust detention by invoking legalisms and technicalities in relation to the recommendation of the IPU,” she said.
“The IPU is merely appealing to the sense of fairness and justice of the court to get an unbiased view of the trumped-up cases of illegal drug trade filed against me,” she added.
Based on reports, Pimentel claimed that the IPU does not understand the Philippine Constitution by recommending, among others, to release De Lima from unjust detention, “unless serious evidence is rapidly forthcoming.”
“If they insist that we observe their rules, then they are insulting us and not respecting our sovereignty to determine our own rules. Our basic rules can be found in our Constitution,” he said.
In response, the Senator from Bicol said she hopes Pimentel would “start speaking in behalf of the Senate and his colleagues and not in behalf of Duterte.”
The IPU is just one of the growing number of multilateral organizations and human rights advocates who have expressed serious concern over the illegal arrest and unjust detention of De Lima over trumped-up charges of illegal drug trafficking.