Groups hail dismissal of last case vs De Lima

Photo from the official Facebook Page of former Sen. Leila de Lima

“The political persecution of de Lima reflects the broader context of increasing impunity for human rights violations in the country, including killings, threats, and harassment of political activists, human rights defenders, members of the media, and other targeted groups.” — Amnesty International

By BHEA BIANCA PLAMINGCO and MA. KATHLEN G. HITOSIS
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Various groups hailed the dismissal of the last of the series of cases filed against Leila de Lima, former senator and critic of the war on drugs by the Duterte administration.

“Sen. Leila is a victim of unjust arrest and detention, and we support her efforts to pursue justice against those who perpetrated these acts of reprisal and judicial harassment against her because of her vocal opposition to the extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s drug war,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

De Lima was charged with several cases, including drug conspiracy under the country’s law on illegal drugs. Her critics accused her of supposedly enabling illegal drug trade in the National Bilibid Prison when she was still justice secretary. The charges were filed in 2017 when she launched a Senate inquiry into former president Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs” where thousands of alleged users and dealers were killed.

She was acquitted in her two other cases in February 2021 and May 2023. Last year, she was allowed to post bail.

Read: Groups welcome release of ex-senator, ‘drug war’ critic de Lima

On Monday, a Muntinlupa court dismissed the last case filed against her. She was in detention for seven years until she was released on bail in November 2023.

“In the light of this development, we call on authorities to release all political prisoners who like Sen. de Lima faced trumped-up charges because of the work that they do in upholding and defending human and people’s rights,” Palabay said, adding that union organizers like Ernesto Jude Rimando, who has an advanced stage of liver cancer, remains behind bars.

Read: In Bohol, release of terminally-ill political prisoner sought

For its part, Amnesty International urged the Marcos Jr. administration “to impartially and effectively investigate those responsible for the unfounded allegations against de Lima that led to her arbitrary detention and the other human rights violations she has endured – and continues to endure – and bring them to justice in fair trials.”

“The political persecution of de Lima reflects the broader context of increasing impunity for human rights violations in the country, including killings, threats, and harassment of political activists, human rights defenders, members of the media, and other targeted groups,” Amnesty International added.

Palabay demanded justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings during the Duterte regime. She said, “They deserve justice, and those accountable for these grave rights violations should be punished.”

Meanwhile, De Lima shared her gratitude after the dismissal of all the cases charged against her. “My heart is full with all the love pouring in today after the dismissal of all my cases. Thank you to everyone who believed in my innocence and that one day I will be finally vindicated. Today is that day of sweet and just freedom.” De Lima said in a Facebook post. (JJE, RTS, RVO, DAA) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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