Undaunted by years of detention, De Lima seeks Senate reelection

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:23 p.m.) — Detained Sen. Leila de Lima is gunning for another six years in the Senate, filing her candidacy before the Commission on Elections through a representative Friday. 

Lawyer Dino de Leon, the senator's representative and spokesperson, filed her Certificate of Candidacy at 9:45 a.m., Friday, her office told reporters.

De Lima, an outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has so far spent 1,687 days at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City on drug cases that she holds as politically motivated and trumped up. 

De Lima was acquitted earlier this year in one of three drug cases against her. The two others remain pending in separate courts after more than four years.

Five judges have voluntarily inhibited from De Lima's cases, according to her office. Two others opted for early retirement. 

Since her arrest in 2017, she has not been allowed to participate in Senate plenary sessions or hearings. 

Even after the upper chamber shifted to holding hybrid sessions in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 in June denied De Lima's request to participate through videoconference. 

This was despite the senator's assertion that she is still in full possession of her civil and political rights, noting that the cases filed against her are still at the trial stage and she has yet to be convicted of any crime. 

De Lima is one of five senatorial candidates endorsed by the Liberal Party. She is also one of four minority members of the Senate.

'One more term to seek justice, hold Duterte accountable'

De Lima, in a statement in Filipino read out by De Leon, said she would continue to further the following advocacies if reelected:

  • Social justice
  • Human rights
  • Criminal justice reform 
  • Good governance and rule of law 
  • National sovereignty 

She also said she was running to hold Duterte accountable for alleged human rights violations, corruption, and treason. De Lima said she would seek to restore the country's democratic institutions which she accused Duterte of destroying. 

Before winning her Senate seat in 2016, De Lima was justice secretary under President Benigno Aquino III from 2010 to 2015. 

As chairperson of the Senate committee on justice, she opened a probe on alleged extrajudicial killings linked to Duterte's flagship campaign against illegal drugs.

She was later ousted from the chairmanship upon the motion of Sen. Manny Pacquiao and replaced by Sen. Richard Gordon. 

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