Sen. Leila de Lima has been detained since February 24, 2017 for allegedly having a hand in the proliferation of drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison during her stint as justice chief.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File
Detained De Lima marks third year in jail as delayed case wears on
Franco Luna ( - February 24, 2020 - 4:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday asserted her innocence as she marked her third year in detention after three counts of drug-related charges were held against her. 

The senator wrote this in a handwritten release from her cell at Camp Crame, which she releases daily.  Since her arrest on this date in 2017, the opposition senator's case is still pending before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. 

She is facing charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading, which the senator to this day asserts were trumped-up and politically motivated, owing to her staunch opposition of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

In January, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, whose department filed the charges against her in 2017, said that much of the delay was De Lima's own doing due to her continued questioning. 

He said that De Lima, who was once chief of the Department of Justice herself, brought her delays on herself due to her continued questioning of the case. 

"Let me say it again: I am innocent of the trumped-up drug charges against me. I may not be a perfect person, but I have never betrayed my duty as a public servant," the senator said.

"And if anyone would take a serious look at the details of my cases, including the ludicrous perjured testimonies of the so-called witnesses against me - they will see that I am merely a victim of political persecution."

De Lima continues to assert her innocence in the case, saying that the charges held against her were trumped-up and politically motivated. The opposition senator was, and continues to be, one of the chief executive's more vocal critics.

 "Duterte and his merry band of trolls may continue their vile narrative towards me, but the country and the world are seeing through the smoke and mirrors regarding my situation," she added.

When she sat as chair of the Commission on Human Rights, De Lima also directed investigation on then-Davao Mayor Duterte's alleged human rights violations linked to the city's infamous "Davao Death Squad."

It was supposedly during her stint as Justice secretary herself that De Lima was supposedly involved in coddling and protecting ranking members of the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison. 

To date, De Lima largely enjoys the support of the international community. Towards the end of 2019, US President Donald Trump signed the country's 2020 budget bill, which included a provision banning those involved in the arrest of De Lima from entering the country. Along with this came a US Senate resolution calling for travel restrictions and financial sanctions to be imposed on the senator's arrestors.

READ: 2020 US budget includes ban on people behind 'wrongful imprisonment' of De Lima

Former Human Rights Watch deputy Philem Kine voiced his support for the senator in a tweet on Monday as well, calling her a victim of gross injustice. 

"Today marks the third anniversary of the politically-motivated imprisonment of [the] Philippines' Sen. Leila de Lima, a victim of a gross injustice directed by Prez #Duterte and his minions. #FreeLeilaNow," he wrote. 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 29, 2020 - 2:09pm

Sen. Leila de Lima on Saturday marked the first year of her detention at the Philippine National Police detention center in Quezon City.

Ahead of the anniversary of her arrest, the Senate minority and various rights groups called on the Philippine government to release her immediately.  

The Department of Justice 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.

De Lima is known as one of the most outspoken critics of President Rodrigio Duterte's administration. 

February 29, 2020 - 2:09pm

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima seeks for the immediate approval of a bill granting early cash gifts for senior citizens who reach 80 and 90 years old.

“We hope that by expanding the coverage of this law, we are able to concretely honor our elderly for their meaningful contributions and their hard-fought sacrifices to their community and the Philippine society during their years of vigor,” De Lima says in a news release.

January 9, 2020 - 2:40pm

The US Senate has passed a resolution condemning the continued detention of Sen. Leila De Lima.

The same resolution also condemns "the Government of the Philippines for its role in state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings by police and other armed individuals as part of the 'War on Drugs' and the "arrest and detention of human rights defenders and political leaders who exercise their rights to freedom of expression."

Included in the language of the resolution is a provision calling "on the President of the United States to impose sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (subtitle F of title XII of Public Law 114–328; 22 U.S.C. 2656 note) with respect to

— (A) members of the security forces and officials of the Government of the Philippines responsible for extrajudicial killings

; and (B) officials of the Government of the Philippines responsible for orchestrating the arrest and prolonged detention of Senator De Lima."

December 23, 2019 - 3:37pm

"My gratitude to the US Congress is overwhelming for including in the final and approved Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2020, now signed into law by the US President, the provision restricting the travel to the US of those responsible for and party to my persecution and imprisonment, or the Durbin/Leahy amendment," Sen. Leila De Lima says in a handwritten dispatch after news of the ban being included in the approved US budget for 2020.

"This latest development signals the fact that impunity cannot last and that one way or another, justice will catch up with those who choose to do injustice to others. This also signifies a solid recognition by the US government that I am a clear victim of political persecution," De Lima also says.

December 23, 2019 - 12:47pm

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says Sen. Leila de Lima's imprisonment "cannot be a wrongful detention" following news on the signing of the US spending bill which included a provision that bans the entry into America of officials involved in the detention of the senator.



December 23, 2019 - 12:37pm

US President Donald Trump signs into law the 2020 spending bill which has a provision that bans Philippine officials involved in the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima from entering America, media reports say.

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