“The entire case against De Lima emanated from the DOJ and only the department can put a stop to this prime example of how state prosecution is being used for political persecution as in the case of so many other political prisoners.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Women’s group Gabriela called for the immediate release of former Senator Leila De Lima after the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the bribery charges against her and her aide, Ronnie Dayan.
On August 9, the Ombudsman released to the public its resolution on De Lima’s case dated July 22. According to news reports, the Ombudsman’s Special Investigation team said that there were “glaring inconsistencies” in the testimonies of the complainants and that there is no probable cause for the accusation against De Lima.
“Gabriela believes that Senator De Lima should be freed immediately after years of unjust incarceration,” the group said in a statement.
De Lima, an opposition senator, has been detained since 2017 for being a vocal critic of President Duterte’s so-called war on drugs.
Aside from the Ombudsman’s dismissal of the case against De Lima, some witnesses also recanted their allegations against her.
Last April, self-confessed drug trader Kerwin Espinosa recanted his allegations against De Lima, saying that he was coerced by government officials into signing the statement against De Lima. This was followed by former Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos and Dayan.
Last month, Marcelo Adorco, another witness in the government’s drug case against Espinosa also recanted his allegations against De Lima.
Kapatid Spokesperson Fides Lim said that De Lima’s case should be trashed by the Department of Justice and not leave it to the local court of Muntinlupa where cases against her are pending.
“This is not a chicken and egg question about which came first and leaving it to the courts to decide the fate of someone who was put in jail for speaking truth to power. It’s most obvious that those trumped-up cases are the product of presidential vendetta,” Lim said in her statement to the media.
She added that the entire case against De Lima emanated from the DOJ and only the department “can put a stop to this prime example of how state prosecution is being used for political persecution as in the case of so many other political prisoners.”
“It should be clear by now that false evidence and fake witnesses won’t stand judicial scrutiny. Those trumped-up cases are falling like dominoes because they have no real leg to stand on. I hope and pray that the prison doors will soon swing open for Ma’am Leila, as it is slowly doing for other political prisoners. She does not belong in jail. But those who put her there, do,” Lim added.
In February 2021, the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch also dismissed one of the three drug cases against De Lima.
Last week, the Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution No. 198 urging the DOJ to immediately withdraw remaining charges against De Lima.
In its House Resolution, Makabayan said that with the series of witness’ recantations, “it is becoming increasingly apparent that Senator De Lima’s arrest and continued detention was nothing more than a carefully orchestrated ploy to silence an outspoken critic and passionate human rights advocate.” (RTS, RVO)