De Lima: No plans yet to return to Senate

Nillicent Bautista - The Philippine Star
De Lima: No plans yet to return to Senate
Former Philippine senator and human rights campaigner Leila de Lima talks during an interview with AFP in Manila on November 24, 2023.
AFP / Jam Sta Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — Former senator Leila de Lima yesterday said she is not yet thinking about returning to the Senate in 2025 following her release from prison after being detained for nearly seven years.

“Will I run for Senate? What I always say is that I have not given it much attention yet. I have not thought about it because there are more important things I need to address,” De Lima said in an interview with Teleradyo Serbisyo.

She said there are other things she must prioritize as she feels like she is “starting from scratch.”

While her political plans remain unclear, De Lima noted that she will remain a Liberal Party member.

“I intend to be part of the opposition if I intend, at all, to be part of the political arena,” she asserted.

The former senator served all but eight months of her Senate term in prison after drug charges were filed against her in 2017.

Before becoming senator, she was the Aquino administration’s justice secretary.

On Nov. 13, Judge Gener Gito of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 206 allowed De Lima to post a P300,000 bail, pointing to the prosecution’s lack of substantial evidence to sufficiently establish her guilt.

Wrong move

De Lima, a strong critic of the previous Duterte administration’s war on drugs, said that the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a wrong move.

“Why did we leave the ICC in the first place? It’s all for his (Duterte) personal interest. It was self-serving. It was shameless,” she said.

De Lima reiterated that the country must rejoin the ICC, claiming that there is no reason why the Philippines should be having a hard time returning to the international court.

Freed on bail in her third and last drug case, De Lima said she wants “full vindication.”

“The witnesses must tell the story. They must tell the truth this time around. That’s what I need to know. That will be my full vindication because I am a victim of injustice,” she said.

Seven state witnesses in De Lima’s drug cases expressed their intention to recant their testimonies against her.

In a handwritten letter she received, the witnesses said they were coerced to make false testimony due to “unimaginable threats” they received.

De Lima’s motion to summon the seven witnesses has been submitted for resolution, according to her legal counsel Raymund Baguilat

Among the witnesses were German Agojo, Tomas Doniña, Jaime Patcho, Wu Tuan Yuan, Engelberto Durano, Jerry Pepino and Hans Anton.

She also asked the court to transfer the seven inmates from Sablayan Prison to the New Bilibid Prison for their “safety and security.”

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