Palace slams ‘bogus’ appeal of US senator to free De Lima
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Monday slammed as “bogus” the call of the United States (US) Senator Marco Rubio for the Philippine government to release detained opposition Senator Leila De Lima.
In a tweet over the weekend, Rubio lamented how De Lima “has spent the last two years in prison on bogus charges.”
De Lima, a fierce critic of the Duterte administration, has been detained for over two years now over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade, an accusation she has vehemently denied.
Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, a critic of extrajudicial killings under Duterte's so-called “war on drugs,” has spent the last two years in prison on bogus charges. I call on the Philippine government to unconditionally release her #FreeLeilaNow #ExpressionNOTOppression pic.twitter.com/B3lsNOnRtx
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) September 20, 2019
“I call on the Philippine government to unconditionally release her #FreeLeilaNow #ExpressionNOTOppression,” he wrote.
But in a Palace briefing, President Duterte’s spokesman and legal counsel Salvador Panelo said it was Rubio’s claims that are “bogus” and baseless.
“‘Yung statement ni Sen. Rubio, ‘yun ang bogus, walang batayan (The statement of Senator Rubio are bogus and baseless),” Panelo said, insisting that De Lima’s case went through proper legal procedure.
“Paano naman magiging bogus? Dalawang process ang dinaanan. Nagdemanda, nagkaroon ng PI — preliminary investigation, nagsubmit ng ebidensiya, nagsubmit rin yung kalaban, tapos dinitermine ng prosecutor na may probable cause,” he said.
(How would it be a bogus case if it goes through two processes? Thre’s a complaint, preliminary investigation, submission of evidence from both sides, and then the prosecutor determined that there is probable cause.)
“Hindi naman huminto doon, eh. I-finile. Under the Constitution, the judge personally should examine the evidence if there is probable cause before he can issue a warrant. Eh, ginawa niya yun. May warrant. Paano naging bogus?” he added.
(It doesn’t stop there. The case was filed. Under the Constitution, the judge should personally examine the evidence if there is probable cause before he can issue a warrant. All of that was done. How will it be a bogus case?)
Rubio was one of the five US senators who, in a resolution earlier this year, called for the release of De Lima and sought for the dropping of charges against Rappler and its chief Maria Ressa.
Panelo had rejected the US lawmakers’ resolution as an “intrusion” into the Philippines’ legal processes.
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