• Senate minority bloc presses for ‘immediate release’ of de Lima


    THE Senate minority bloc on Thursday pressed for the “immediate release” of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, who will mark her first year in detention on Saturday, February 24.

    De Lima’s colleagues in the six-man opposition bloc filed late Wednesday Senate Resolution 645 seeking her freedom. She is detained on drug charges at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center.

    “As her colleagues at the Senate, we are pained by the reality that a member of this Chamber is locked up in jail on trumped-up charges when she should be here with us, engaging in productive discussions, legislating laws, and serving her constituents and our country,” they said.

    The resolution was signed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, as well as Senators Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes 4th, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th, and Risa Hontiveros.

    They said that de Lima’s continued “unjust detention” stemmed from her investigation of the Davao Death Squad as then chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and on the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country as senator—both of which earned the ire of then Davao mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte.

    “The road to her incarceration was tormenting–revealing in public her intimate relationships, publicly shaming her by threatening to screen in the House of Representatives her alleged sex videos, and branding her an immoral woman,” they said.

    “Only a tenacious person with an unshakable resolve like Senator De Lima can withstand all these, unbowed, unbent, and unbroken,” they added.

    The five senators acknowledged the increasing number of organizations and human rights advocates who have launched petitions seeking her freedom from incarceration.

    They cited a March 2017 resolution by the European Parliament in Strasbourg calling for “the immediate release of Senator De Lima” and the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union’s call for her freedom in a report prepared by its human rights committee, among others.

    “In the narrow confines of her detention cell and under restrictive conditions in the PNP Custodial Center, her physical body has deteriorated; only her dogged spirit to carry on is keeping her alive,” they said.

    They filed SR 505 on September 2017 asking the Senate leadership to allow de Lima to participate in the sessions and deliberations of important legislative measures. They claimed that the resolution has not been acted upon. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO



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