Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has welcomed initiatives from the diplomatic community in the Philippines to send their representatives to monitor her legal proceedings on trumped-up drug cases filed against her.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, made the statement after the courts handling her cases allowed the embassies of The Netherlands, USA, Germany, European Union (EU) and UK to attend her hearings via videoconferencing.
“I appreciate their keen interest to closely monitor the court proceedings to ensure that I receive a fair trial. This is another proof that the world is indeed watching and that the international community cares for rule of law in our country,” she said.
The embassies of The Netherlands, US, Germany and EU have already managed to attend select hearings of the cases of Senator De Lima before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branches 205 and 256, through videoconferencing.
In an OCA Circular No. 166-2020 dated Oct. 9, 2020, it was stated that all videoconferencing hearings conducted by the first and second level courts may be accessible to the public considering that they are already allowed to conduct videoconferencing hearings in all matters pending before them.
Notably, any individual who wishes to attend a videoconferencing hearing is only required to email the concerned court at least three days before the scheduled hearing through its official Philippine Judiciary Office 365 email address.
It may be recalled that Australian lawyer Mark Trowell, a trial observer for the the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), attended the resumption of the trial of the detained Senator’s case based on trumped-up drug charge before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 last Jan. 24, 2020.
It was not the first time that Trowell flew to the Philippines to “assess whether the Senator is obtaining a fair and honest trial.”
Trowell was also present before the Muntinlupa RTC, Branch 205 last Nov. 8, 2019 when the court deferred the hearing on the alleged conspiracy to trade illegal drug charge against De Lima. He first attempted to attend De Lima’s trial, which was called off on short notice, last May 3 2019.