Palace dismisses US senator's call to free De Lima as 'nonsense'
In this Jan. 15, 2019 photo, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo holds a press briefing at Malacañang.
The STAR/Joven Cagande, File

Palace dismisses US senator's call to free De Lima as 'nonsense'

Alexis Romero ( - September 22, 2019 - 5:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Sunday dismissed as "nonsense" an American senator's call for the Philippine government to free from detention Filipino senator and outspoken Duterte critic Leila de Lima.

In a tweet posted Saturday, United States Sen. Marco Rubio called for the unconditional release of de Lima, saying she has been in prison on "bogus charges."

READ: #FreeLeilaNow: US senator asks gov’t to release De Lima anew

"Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, a critic of extrajudicial killings under Duterte's so-called 'war on drugs,' has spent the last two years in prison on bogus charges. I call on the Philippine government to unconditionally release her #FreeLeilaNow #ExpressionNOTOppression," Rubio tweeted.

"We don’t respond to nonsense," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a text message when asked to react to Rubio's statement.



De Lima, who led a probe on President Rodrigo Duterte's war on narcotics, was arrested and jailed in 2017 for allegedly asking money from drug convicts to fund her senatorial campaign and for supposedly allowing drug trade to proliferate in the national penitentiary while she was justice secretary.  

De Lima has denied the charges, saying the cases filed against her are politically motivated.

Last April, Rubio and four other American senators called for the release of de Lima and the dropping of charges against news website Rappler and its chief Maria Ressa.

READ: De Lima cries foul over 'continuing demonization'


In a resolution, Sens. Rubio, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Christopher Coons of Delaware described De Lima as "a prisoner of conscience" who was "detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression."

Malacañang responded by telling the senators to "mind their own business" and reminding them that the Philippines is "not under the dominion of the United States of America or any of its high-ranking officials."

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