Palace: HRW call for De Lima release is ‘nothing but sheer meddling’

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque (File photo by JOAN BONDOC / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Malacañang on Wednesday accused Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) of “sheer meddling” with the country’s domestic affairs when it called for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima from jail.

“This recent call by the New York-based Human Rights Watch for the government to drop all charges against Senator Leila de Lima is nothing but sheer meddling with our country’s domestic affairs,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

“We condemn this continued interference not only because it misleads the public, but because it mocks the integrity of our justice system,” he added.

HRW on Tuesday said De Lima’s continued detention in jail undermines Philippine democracy.

De Lima, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics, has severely criticized the government’s bloody anti-drug campaign, which has killed thousands of drug suspects.

Roque denounced HRW’s portrayal of De Lima as a “prisoner of conscience” and a “so-called martyr for justice,” noting that the charges against the senator are “criminal in nature, plain and simple.”

“Her arrest, following a competent and independent court’s finding of probable cause, strictly followed legal procedures,” he added.

“Senator De Lima’s case is now pending before the local court.  Let us allow the legal process to proceed accordingly,” he noted. /je