International rights exec to PH gov’t: Stop ‘harassment’ of De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — An executive of the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) has called on the Philippine government to stop the “judicial harassment” against Senator Leila de Lima, who is currently detained due to alleged drug charges.
“The two years Senator de Lima has spent languishing in prison serve as a dark reminder of President Duterte’s zero-tolerance for scrutiny and the eroding state of democracy and human rights in the Philippines,” APHR Chairperson Charles Santiago said in a statement on Saturday.
“The charges against her fly in the face of justice and the Philippine government must end its judicial harassment against her without further delay,” Santiago added.
De Lima is detained at the custodial center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) inside Camp Crame in Quezon City for almost two years.
She was arrested on Feb. 24, 2017, based on the testimonies of convicted drug suspects at the New Bilibid Prisons.
Santiago then dubbed the drug charges filed against De Lima as “politically motivated,” saying her imprisonment aimed to silence the senator, who has been a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It’s clear that the charges against her are politically motivated. Her prolonged and unjust imprisonment has been nothing but an attempt to deliberately silence Senator de Lima’s efforts, which were focused on important matters of public interest,” he said.
Santiago was referring to De Lima’s criticisms on Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs.
Before being a senator, De Lima, who was then the chairperson of Commission on Human Rights (CHR), led a probe into Duterte’s alleged involvement in extra-judicial killings when he was still serving as Davao City mayor.
Santiago said De Lima was only trying to end the drug-related killings under the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign.
“Senator de Lima’s only ‘crime’ was trying to end the bloody anti-drug campaign unleashed under the current government. The Philippine people need more champions for justice like the Senator,” he said.
Santiago added that while the senator is in detention, her “regional peers are standing in solidarity with her” and will keep supporting her until she “walks free again.” /jpv
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