Inter-Parliamentary Union to check on De Lima’s situation
The Inter-Parliamentary Union Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians will visit the Philippines to examine the situation of Sen. Leila de Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame on drug charges..
The committee said on Wednesday that it was pleased to learn that Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III would welcome a visit by its delegation to address the concerns raised by the senator’s case.
“It is crucial that this delegation meets with the relevant parliamentary, executive, and judicial authorities and Senator De Lima and her lawyers, along with any third party likely to assist it in its work; and requests the secretary general to make the necessary arrangements for this visit to take place as soon as possible,” the committee said during its 136th IPU Assembly held April 1 to 5 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
It was during the assembly that the committee adopted a decision to review De Lima’s case.
It expressed grave concern about the senator’s arrest and detention and the accusations levied against her.
It said it failed “to understand how the accusations against her make sense, given that she has been the one taking action against the alleged drug trafficking in NBP (New Bilibid Prison).”
It said it had serious reason to believe that De LIma was targeted, because of the reported public statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III. The timing of the accusations also coincidesd with the inquiry she launched in the Senate on extrajudicial killings in the country.
The senator has been a vocal critic of Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
The committee said: “(it) is also concerned about the fact that the legal proceedings on the substance of accusations appear to be going ahead, even though very important preliminary questions have yet to be resolved.”
It called on authorities to ensure that De Lima’s would be given a fair trial, “taking due account of all the facts and relevant legal provisions.”
The committee said that would wish to receive official views on this matter and decided to send a observer to the criminal proceedings should they take place.
It also hopes to know further details on the prison conditions of the senator at the PNP Custodial Center, where she has been detained since being arrested on Feb. 24.
She was charged at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court with three counts of violation Dangerous Drugs Act, which penalizes the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of illegal drugs.”
The cases were largely based on testimonies of high-profile convicts who claimed that De Lima had profited from the illegal drug trade at New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary.
The IPU is an international organization of parliaments was established in 1889. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland. /atm
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