Foreign governments welcome De Lima acquittal

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Foreign governments welcome De Lima acquittal
Former senator Leila de Lima
Rudy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign governments welcomed the acquittal of former senator Leila de Lima in the final criminal charge against her.

The US State Department said Washington remains committed to working with the Philippines to strengthen democracy and human rights around the world.

“We continue to urge the Philippines to resolve politically motivated cases, including those against journalists and civil society, in a manner consistent with its international human rights obligations and commitments,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a June 24 statement.

De Lima’s acquittal followed her release on bail in November 2023 after nearly seven years of detention and her acquittal on two separate politically-motivated criminal charges.

US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson welcomed the dismissal of all cases against De Lima.

“The United States supports rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms around the world,” Carlson wrote on Twitter.

European Union Ambassador Luc Veron said the acquittal of de Lima and her co-defendants by the Muntinlupa City court is a “victory for justice.”

“After so many years, this is a victory for justice! The EU applauds and stands alongside this verdict for justice and human rights,” Veron said in a post on Twitter.

Canada also welcomed the news that the remaining charges against De Lima have been dropped.

“Transparency, evidence and independence of the judiciary are essential to our democratic systems of justice,” Canadian Ambassador David Hartman said on Twitter.

German Ambassador Andreas Pfaffernoschke said the acquittal of De Lima is a “significant victory for justice and rule of law.”

“Grateful that she can continue her vital work in advocating for truth and justice. I urge the government to quickly resolve all cases of EJK (extrajudicial killings) and bring perpetrators to justice!” Pfaffernoschke said.

Australian Ambassador HK Yu said “Australia is pleased to see Atty. Leila de Lima and her co-defendants cleared of all charges.”

“I’m grateful to have met this strong and courageous woman. Australia continues to support the rule of law and respect for human rights,” Yu said in a post on Twitter.

The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 on Monday granted De Lima’s demurrer to evidence, which is tantamount to the case’s dismissal.

A few hours earlier, a Quezon City court also dismissed the disobedience to summons case filed against De Lima and Ronnie Dayan, her former driver, for ignoring the subpoena issued by the House of Representatives in 2016.

Opposition figures and former government officials during the administration of the late president Benigno Aquino III lauded the dismissal of the third and last drug charge faced by De Lima.

Cooperate with ICC?

Carlos Conde, senior researcher at the Asia Division of New York-based Human Rights Watch, described as “sweet vindication” the dismissal of the final drug charge against De Lima.

This, Conde said, lifts the spirit of the thousands of victims of abuse and injustice in the Philippines.

“After seven long years of persecution that started during the brutal Duterte regime, De Lima is finally and fully free. Now unencumbered by bogus charges, we wish her all the luck as she continues the fight to protect human rights in the Philippines,” he said.

Conde said Marcos should take De Lima’s acquittal as an opportunity “to demonstrate to the world that he is serious about upholding human rights in the wake of the catastrophic abuses under his predecessor and the continuing absence of accountability.”

“His administration should cooperate with the investigation by the ICC into alleged crimes against humanity against Rodrigo Duterte,” he said, referring to the International Criminal Court.

“He should work to achieve meaningful progress in the investigation and prosecution of extrajudicial killings that happened under Duterte – killings that, unfortunately, are still happening under his watch,” Conde added. — Janvic Mateo, Emmanuel Tupas

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