American Sen. Marco Rubio urged the Philippine government to free Sen. Leila de Lima.
Leila de Lima FB Page/File
#FreeLeilaNow: US senator asks gov’t to release De Lima anew
(Philstar.com) - September 22, 2019 - 4:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — United States Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Saturday called on the Philippine government to release detained Sen. Leila De Lima anew.

In his official Twitter account, Rubio said De Lima, a staunch critic of extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, “has spent the last two years in prison on bogus charges.”

“I call on the Philippine government to unconditionally release her,” Rubio wrote, adding hashtags #FreeLeilaNow and #ExpressionNOTOppression.

This was not the first time an American lawmaker urged the Duterte government to free De Lima.

In March, six members of the US House of Representatives filed a resolution calling on the immediate release of De Lima.

US House Resolution 233, “condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima, calling for her immediate release, and for other purposes," was filed by California Rep. Jackie Speier.

It was sponsored by five other lawmakers including Reps. James McGovern (Massachusetts), Rep. Henry Johnson Jr. (Georgia), Rep. Jamie Raskin (Maryland), Rep. Brad Sherman (California) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas). 

Meanwhile, Rubio was among the five US senators who signed a bipartisan resolution that highlighted human rights concerns in the Philippines and urged the Duterte administration to respect freedom of expression.

READ: US senators file resolution condemning ‘ongoing human rights abuses’ in the Philippines

The six-page bipartisan resolution cited the cases of De Lima and Rappler CEO and veteran journalist Maria Ressa.

“The Philippines is a close ally, but this bipartisan resolution makes it clear that the US Congress seeks an immediate improvement in the government’s behavior and the end of efforts to weaponize the rule of law against brave individuals like Senator Leila de Lima and Maria Ressa,” US Sen. Edward Markey said in the resolution.

De Lima launched a probe into the alleged human rights violations in Duterte’s controversial war on drugs before she was arrested on Feb. 24, 2017.

She has been detained since then for allegedly coddling drug traders inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was still the justice secretary.

The senator is facing three counts of violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which she earlier denied and dismissed as politically motivated. — Rosette Adel

DRUG CHARGES LEILA DE LIMA MARCO RUBIO RODRIGO DUTERTE WAR ON DRUGS
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