Minority senators demand: #FreeLeilaNow

February 22, 2018

Minority senators have joined calls for the “immediate release” of opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima, who will mark her first year of illegal arrest and unjust detention on Saturday, February 24.

They filed late Wednesday Senate Resolution (SR) No. 645 making an impassioned call for the freedom of De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime.

“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 M. Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino, and Risa Hontiveros.

They noted that De Lima’s continued unjust detention was instigated by her investigation of the Davao Death Squad as then chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and later investigation of the spate of extra-judicial killings (EJKs) in the country as a senator — which earned the ire of then Davao Mayor and now President Duterte.

De Lima’s colleagues nevertheless lauded her spirit, which remains unbroken despite Duterte’s effort to tarnish her reputation and oppress her.

“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.

The same senators filed SR No. 505 in September 2017 asking the Senate leadership to allow De Lima to participate in the sessions and deliberations of important legislative measures. The resolution has not been acted upon