March 3, 2017

Liberal Party president Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Friday asked Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III to return the Senate security of detained Senator Leila de Lima in Camp Crame.

Dapat nag-negotiate na makalapit ang OSSAA, hindi yung 50 meters away (There should have been negotiations for the Office of the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms to come closer, and not be 50 meters away),” Pangilinan said.

On Wednesday night, Pimentel told Senate reporters that Senate security personnel has been removed from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center where de Lima is detained, as they were posted far from her cell and were thus “useless.”

It was learned that the OSSAA personnel were pulled out Monday.

The Liberal Party believes that De Lima has been arrested and detained to silence her as she has been a fierce critic of President Duterte from her time as chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights during the Arroyo administration.

The government accused her of profiting from the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison during her time as justice secretary, and filed non-bailable charges against her.

The Liberal Party has called her arrest illegal as the evidence was weak, due process was not met, and the regional trial courts, including the one that issued the warrant, did not have jurisdiction over the cases filed against her.

De Lima has repeatedy denied the drug charges saying they were part of efforts of President Duterte to exact revenge against her for her sharp criticism of his policies, particularly the bloody war on drugs.

The Liberal Party also expressed concern for her safety under government detention, citing how Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., a drug suspect, was killed by police officers in a detention center before dawn on Nov. 5, and South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo, who was kidnapped on Oct. 18 last year, was later found dead within the grounds of Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters.

Senate President Pimentel said De Lima’s work at the Senate will continue despite her detention.