Over 300 leaders, parliamentarians, activists, and organizations from different parts of the world have decried the continued political persecution of Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima who marks her fourth year in unjust and indefinite detention today (Feb. 24).
In a Statement of Indignation, the local and international leaders and groups called for the immediate release of De Lima and the dropping of all trumped-up drug charges filed against her by the vindictive Duterte regime.
“Injustice to Senator Leila de Lima is injustice to the Filipino people. This year marks another 365 days of unjust detention of a modern Filipino hero who dared to stand against abuses to the oppressed and the powerless. We stand with the rest of the world in calling for her freedom,” they said.
“Given the falsity of the charges against Senator Leila de Lima and the gross violation of her rights, releasing the senator, including the dropping or withdrawal of all the trumped-up criminal charges, are the only justifiable actions left for this government that has caused her so much wrong,” they added.
The local signatories include, among others, incumbent and former officials and representatives such as Rep. Carlos Zarate, Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, Rep. Sarah Elago, former Senators Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino, former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, former DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, and former Senator and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.
Joining them are 78 members of the Parliament of Maldives including Hon. President Mohamed Nasheed, MP Speaker of the People’s majlis, and leaders and groups from Asia such as Emily Lau of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong and Tian Chua, Vice President of Peoples’ Justice Party, Malaysia, to name a few.
Different personalities and groups from the United States and Europe also signed the statement. Some of them are Philip Alston, former Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights; Jason Frazer, Liberal International London, as well as representatives from Amnesty International – USA, France Insoumise Parliamentary Group, and Lliures per Europa, Spain.
Aside from them, there are also signatories from Africa, Canada and Australia who expressed their condemnation on the Senator’s plight under the present administration.
In marking De Lima’s four years of unjust and indefinite detention since her arrest on 24 February 2017, the signatories said they continue “to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, in solidarity with Leila M. de Lima” who is detained for 1,462 days to date.
“We condemn the wrongful and indefinite imprisonment of Senator de Lima, directly resulting from the trumped-up charges against her by the Duterte Administration, and the 18-member prosecution team,” they said.
“We denounce the injustice against Senator Leila de Lima in an attempt to prevent her from performing her duties as a Senator though she has remained a champion of human rights, justice, social welfare, and good governance as evidenced by the legislation she has filed while in detention,” they added.
Despite her political persecution, the signatories stressed that De Lima’s spirit remain undaunted as she never allowed herself to be silenced.
“Four years without even a gram of proof that the cases involved any supposed “illegal drugs” at all. Four years of parading witnesses who, one-by-one, admitted that they had no personal knowledge about the supposed “facts” on which they were forced by the prosecution to testify.
“Four years of blatant attempts to silence and neutralize her as a powerful voice for democracy, truth and justice, by an authoritarian regime that has cultivated a culture of violence and killings; that has perpetrated corruption; subverted our democracy and pursued personal, political and financial gains instead of upholding our national sovereignty,” they said.
“And her response: four years of the triumph of spirit. Four years of never allowing herself to be silenced. Four years of continuing to wage a war to defend Philippine sovereignty and democracy, and human rights with nothing more than the power of her pen, her uncompromising courage, and her indefatigable spirit of public service to the Filipino people,” they added.
In a separate statement, the Human Rights Watch renewed its call for the dropping of all charges and the release from detention of De Lima.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, was recently acquitted in one of her three trumped-up drug cases lodged before Muntinlupa RTC, Br. 205. (30)