Australian Parliament joins call for De Lima’s release
MANILA, Philippines — Australian lawmakers have joined the call for the release of Senator Leila de Lima who remains detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame over drug-related charges.
De Lima’s camp on Friday said the Australian Parliament adopted the motion of Australian Labor Party member Chris Hayes who expressed concern over De Lima’s situation in a speech last Monday, Feb. 18.
A copy of the motion was received by the office of De Lima on Friday.
Hayes said De Lima should be released from detention and be allowed to properly perform her duties as a senator.
“I reiterate my call for fairness and decency to be afforded to the people of the Philippines and urge the government of the Philippines to release Senator De Lima from her incarceration and allow her to properly continue her work as a senator,” Hayes said during his speech.
Hayes also urged the Philippine government to ensure that De Lima’s right to a fair trial is not violated.
De Lima has been in detention since February 2017 over allegations that she allowed the illegal drug trade to proliferate inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was Justice Secretary.
“The case of Senator de Lima is a clear example of what happens when a government seeks to circumvent the rule of law. In emphasizing that, the evidence against Senator de Lima consists of untested statements by convicted drug lords, police officers and prison officials. Therefore, I believe it’s important that we put Senator de Lima’s situation into context,” he said.
Hayes described De Lima as “a notable critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of extrajudicial killing” who stood up against the government.
Hayes noted that De Lima’s case should remind people to “never remain silent when human rights are being attacked.”
“It’s for this reason that we as parliamentarians and concerned members of the international community cannot afford to remain silent in the face of blatant attack on systems of justice and really, for that matter, the rule of law itself,” he said. /muf