Robredo joins calls for senator’s release
Vice President Leni Robredo has called anew for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima, who marks her second year in detention over unfounded drug charges.
VP Leni slammed the continued detention of the senator “despite the glaring absence of physical evidence, and on the mere say-so of convicted drug dealers currently serving prison sentences in the national penitentiary.”
This, she said, “is a sad commentary of the state of our justice system today”—one that “appears alarmingly susceptible to political and economic influence.” She underscored that this is “bigger challenge that we must address,” for the benefit of all Filipino people, especially those at the fringes.
“It both captures and mirrors the frustration of thousands of Filipinos, particularly those bereft of wealth or privilege, whose lives, freedom, and meager fortunes are ground down by a justice system that turns both slowly and erratically, and whose obscure movements seem only too pliant to those in power,” she said in a statement issued on Sunday. “Our call today, therefore, must be both ‘Justice for Leila,’ as well as ‘Justice for the Filipino.’”
Calls for De Lima’s arrest have risen from here and abroad. Michel Forst, United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, raised concerns over the plight of Filipina human rights defenders, including De Lima, whose arrest was tagged in Forst’s report as “politically motivated.” Last year, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted an opinion, where it called on the Philippine government to release the senator “immediately and to accord her an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
VP Leni, chairperson of the Liberal Party to which De Lima belongs, also wished continued strength for her fellow Bicolana, and lauded her for keeping faith throughout this ordeal.
“Your strength and dauntless courage in the face of these personal trials are an inspiration to us all,” she said.
“Stay strong. I have no doubt, the day will come soon, when you will walk under free skies, head held high in vindication, to the thanks of all those you sacrificed your own freedom for,” she added.