Int’l group to PH gov’t: Free De Lima
An inter-governmental organization of parliamentarians has called on the Philippine government to “immediately” release Senator Leila de Lima from prison and to drop the drug cases filed against her.
As it closed its 138th Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Governing Council adopted a resolution expressing concern that De Lima remains in pre-trial detention more than a year after arrest.
The resolution was based on the decisions of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
The IPU believed the steps taken against De Lima were “in response to her vocal opposition to President Duterte’s war on drugs, including her denunciation of his alleged responsibility for extrajudicial killings.”
It also said “there is no serious evidence to justify the criminal cases” against the legislator.
The organization noted that De Lima has not been arraigned in any of the three cases filed against her. De Lima is being accused of receiving drug money to finance her senatorial campaign. She is also being blamed for the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs at the National Bilibid Prison that allegedly happened while she was Secretary of Justice.
The cases are being heard before Branch 205 of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court.
Additionally, the IPU decided to send an observer to “monitor and report on the respect for fair trial standards” should the cases against De Lima progress.
The IPU also said it remained “shocked” at the public vilification campaign against De Lima by senior officials of the Duterte government, which “portrays her as an ‘immoral woman’ and as guilty.”
The IPU then urged the Supreme Court to “give full consideration” to the arguments presented by De Lima’s camp in her motion for reconsideration, which questions the legality of her arrest.
Voting 9-6, the SC en banc in October 2017 ruled to reject De Lima’s motion to recall her warrant of arrest issued by the Muntinlupa City RTC.
In November 2017, De Lima’s lawyers asked the SC to reconsider its decision, noting that the high court could not even agree on the nature and cause of the accusation against the legislator.
Moreover, the IPU urged the SC to grant De Lima an occasional legislative furlough if she is not immediately released; and asked government authorities to “swiftly grant her access” to the Internet, TV, and radio, in order to facilitate her parliamentary work. /kga
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