Sunday, December 15, 2019

De Lima welcomes US Senate resolution calling for her release

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Saturday said that a recently approved United States Senate resolution that urges her immediate release is proof that all charges against her are fabricated and politically-motivated.

“I say with utmost candor that this strong, and resoundingly unanimous and bipartisan support for me and my causes from the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and earlier, from the Appropriations Committee, is further proof of the fakeness of the charges against me,” the senator said in a dispatch from Camp Crame.

The Senate resolution said De Lima’s release was long overdue and has repeatedly been called for by nongovernmental organizations, human rights groups, parliamentary bodies, and individuals including the European Parliament, the Australian Parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Liberal International, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, and the senator’s colleagues in the Senate minority bloc.

It also cited the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s recommendation for an independent investigation of the “circumstances surrounding the arbitrary detention” and that proper compensation and other reparations be provided to De Lima.

“Kung may natitira pang duda na ako ay inosente, at biktima lamang ng pamumulitika at personal na paghihiganti ng mga tinamaan ng aking pagganap sa aking tungkulin at pagsisilbi sa Bayan nitong nakaraang mahigit sampung taon – burado na po iyon dahil sa malinaw, matapang at matinding suportang ito,” De Lima’s dispatch read.

(If any doubts on my innocence remain, on the fact that I’m just a victim of politicking and personal vengeance of those who were affected by me attending to my job and responsibility to the nation for over 10 years — that’s now all gone because of the clear and bold support by the US Senate resolution.) “The unanimous support of all the twenty-one (21) bipartisan members of the US Foreign Relations Committee puts the final nail on the coffin of the blatant lie that Duterte uttered, and shared with certain Philippine Senators during a dinner in 2017, that the intel reports about my alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade came from the US.”

Senate Resolution 142, entitled “Condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima, calling for her immediate release, and for
other purposes” earlier this week was unanimously ordered to be reported with amendments favorably by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“[T]he Senate condemns the Government of the Philippines for the arrest and detention of human rights defenders and political leaders who exercise their rights to freedom of expression...and the continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima,” read the resolution submitted to the committee in April.

“The Senate considers Senator De Lima to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression [and] calls on the Government of the Philippines to immediately release Senator De Lima, drop all charges against her, remove restrictions on her personal and work conditions, and allow her to fully discharge her legislative mandate, especially as Chair of the Committee on Social Justice.”

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to drop all charges against Rappler and its CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa.

Meanwhile, Malacañang accused the US Senate of being misinformed and stepping on Philippine sovereignty through its resolution.

“It is a brazen and heedless affront against the dignity not only of the Philippine Government but of our country’s sovereignty as well. It is an undisguised and outrageous intrusion to a sovereign state. There can be no excuse for the US Senate Committee not to know that the Philippines has long ceased to be a colony of the United States,” read the post of the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson on Facebook. The Palace also justified the cases against De Lima and Ressa, saying they were afforded due process contrary to the committee’s findings.

“Ressa was given provisional liberty by the hearing court while De Lima’s continued detention remains on account of the nature of the crime she is charged with and the court’s finding that the evidence against her is strong,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

De Lima was detained in 2017 on drug-related charges. She openly faced arresting authorities and has refused to seek asylum abroad, a form of legal reprieve where protection is granted to a political refugee that leaves their country.

She marked her 1,000th day of detention last month.

Vice President Leni Robredo is among members of the opposition calling for De Lima’s release.

“The trumped-up charges against Senator De Lima should be junked. She must be freed at the soonest time,” Robredo said in a video message. However, the senator is positive that justice will prevail due to the US Senate resolution and is challenging the administration to prepare once they are made accountable.

“[T]ell me who your enemy is and I will tell you who you are. I am proud to be their enemy and a threat to them. So I say to them: You can never defeat the truth. Mag-isip-isip na kayo (Better start planning ahead) because truth and justice will always prevail,” De Lima said.

“These lawmakers have come together to support me, not just because of the injustice done to me, but more importantly because of the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines, and its impact on our democracy.”