Senator Leila de Lima: Fight not over, Amnesty calls government to drop pending drug cases


Shortly after her acquittal on the second drug charge filed against him by Duterte’s minions before the Muntinlupa court, embattled Philippine senator Leila de Lima says her fight is not yet over as she faces one more drug charge. An international human rights group, Amnesty International (AI), urges the Marcos junior administration to drop the remaining drug charges and release the senator, who has been incarcerated for six years since 2017.

Judge Joseph Alcantara of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) 204 found no reason to convict De Lima and her former driver, Ronnie Dayan, of the conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). At the same time, she was still the Justice secretary under the Pnoy administration. Court records show that the Duterte administration accused De Lima of pocketing 10 million pesos from former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos who got the money allegedly from convicted drug lords in support of her senatorial run. De Lima had since described these depictions as “fantasy.”

De Lima became a target of the previous Duterte administration due to her comments against Mr. Duterte’s human rights record as former mayor of Davao City. Sources even say that Duterte had a long-time grudge against De Lima from their law school days. De Lima used to head the Lambda Rho Sigma, a sorority allied with the Lambda Rho Beta (LRB), the rival fraternity of Lex Taliones, the fraternity of Mr. Duterte. Bedan law sources say that both fraternities engage in brutal fights for superiority, with LRB consistently besting the Lex Taliones members.

The embattled justice secretary has been in detention since February 2017 and has vehemently denied these drug charges leveled against her. Ragos had since recanted and publicly apologized to De Lima, saying he was coerced to pin De Lima for the crime.

Meanwhile, civil society groups are asking the public to support a rally to urge the government to drop the pending charge against De Lima. Fr. Robert Reyes and the Clergy for Moral Choice will hold a Thanksgiving mass for Leila at the EDSA shrine at 3 pm today.

Amnesty International says Philippine authorities should “quash” the remaining drug charge before the Muntinlupa RTC branch 256.

“The authorities must not delay her release any longer and allow her to be reunited with her family, friends, and supporters after six long years.

Beyond Leila de Lima’s long-overdue release, the Marcos administration must work towards holding accountable those responsible for her arbitrary detention, which violated her rights to liberty, the presumption of innocence, and other fair trial guarantees,” AI in a statement.

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