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De Lima ‘humbled, thankful’ over US senators’ plea for her freedom

/ 08:33 PM April 09, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Opposition Senator Leila De Lima on Tuesday thanked the US senators who in a resolution sought for her release from jail.

“I express my deepest gratitude to the five honorable members of the US Senate not only for calling out the political persecution I have to endure under the present administration but also the human rights abuses in the country,” De Lima said in a statement.

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“I am both humbled and thankful for their concerns not just for my plight but for the protection of human rights, democracy, rule of law, and political freedom in the Philippines where the culture of fear and impunity reign,” she added.

On April 4, Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Marco Rubio of Florida, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Christopher Coons of Delaware, submitted a resolution in the US Senate condemning the arrests of De Lima and Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa.

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De Lima ‘humbled, thankful’ over US senators’ plea for her freedom

Senator Leila de Lima. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

The resolution reads: “[The senators call for the Philippine government to] immediately release Senator De Lima, drop all charges against her, remove restrictions on her personal and work conditions, and allow her to fully discharge her legislative mandate, especially as Chair of the Committee on Social Justice.”

READ: 5 US senators: Free De Lima

Malacañang and some lawmakers, however, were not all too welcoming of the US senators’ move.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who also serves as President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, chided the US senators in a statement: “Their resolution is an unwelcome intrusion to the country’s domestic legal processes and an outrageous interference with our nation’s sovereignty…”

READ: Palace to US senators calling for De Lima’s release: Mind your own business

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, in a tweet tagging Rubio, said their counterparts must “mind your own business.”

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Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said the Philippines has its own judicial system that follows due process, even emphasizing the country is not a colony of the United States.

But De Lima said the US senators’ action is not “meddling” since they are “simply advancing universal causes of justice, human rights, and democracy.”

“Criticisms over the support I’m getting from the international community, much less the US Senate, will never remove the fact that the five senators and other foreign dignitaries before them are speaking in behalf of all the unjustly treated human rights defenders in the Philippines,” she said.

“Instead of bewailing their alleged ‘meddling’, those who negatively reacted to the US Senators’ move should recognize that these foreign entities are simply advancing universal causes of justice, human rights, and democracy,” she added. /kga

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