Sen. Leila de Lima flashes the ‘Laban’ sign during her arraignment at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court where she faces a separate disobedience to summons charge.
The STAR/Boy Santos
Almost a year after detention, Senate minority pushes anew for De Lima's release
Kristine Joy Patag ( - February 22, 2018 - 11:19am

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Senate minority have filed a resolution calling for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima who is nearing a year in detention on Saturday, February 24.

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Sens. Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros condemned the continued detention of De Lima, staunchest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, in the police headquarters in Quezon City. 

The five senators filed on late Wednesday, resolution 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, engaging in productive discussions, legislating laws, and serving her constituents and our country," the senators have noted in the resolution.

On September 2017, the minority senators also filed a resolution to allow De Lima to participate in legislative sessions and deliberations of legislative measures, but they noted that it has not been acted upon by the Senate.

'Trumped up charges'

De Lima has been detained in the Philippine National Police following the warrant of arrest issued by the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204.

Judge Juanita Guerrero, who has since inhibited from the case, issued the warrant on Feb. 23, 2017, days after the Department of Justice filed three counts of violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 before three salas of Muntinlupa courts.

The DOJ initially charged De Lima for drug trading, but over the months, the state prosecutors filed motions to amend the charges and indict the senator on conspiracy to commit drug trading instead.

The senators noted that: "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, branding her an immoral woman."

The charges against De Lima emanated from the testimonies of high-profile inmates during the House of Representatives inquiry into the propagation of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary.

"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," the senators added.

They also noted that several human rights groups have also launched petitions calling for De Lima's freedom from detention.

On Oct. 10 2017, the Supreme Court voted 9-6 to junk De Lima's petition seeking to nullify her arrest. But De Lima's team, led by former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, filed a motion for reconsideration on November 3.

The high court has yet to act on it.

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