VP: De Lima’s detention reflects country’s sorry state of justice
MANILA, Philippines — The incarceration and political persecution of Senator Leila de Lima reflect the sorry state of justice in the country, said Vice President Leni Robredo
“It both captures and mirrors the frustration of thousands of Filipinos, particularly those bereft of wealth or privilege, whose lives, freedom, and meager fortunes are ground down by a justice system that turns both slowly and erratically, and whose obscure movements seem only too pliant to those in power,” Robredo said in a statement issued on Sunday.
“Our call today, therefore, must be both Justice for Leila, as well as Justice for the Filipino, she added.
De Lima, who is facing drug-related charges, is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center inside Camp Crame in Quezon City.
On Tuesday, she will mark her second year in prison.
Local and foreign organizations have called for her release, with some insisting that the arrest was politically motivated.
“Tomorrow, I will be marking my second year of most unjust and illegal detention. Two years of injustice, continuous political persecution, and violation of my rights to fully serve the mandate given to me by the Filipino people,” De Lima said in a statement on Monday.
“Until now, even after repeated demands by local organizations and the international community, this vindictive government continues to ignore the calls to release me,” she added.
De Lima has been a critic of President Rodrigo Duterte even before he won the presidency in 2016.
When Duterte was still Davao City mayor, De Lima, who also used to head the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) launched an investigation on the Davao Death Squad (DDS) — a vigilante group with supposed links to Duterte.
Last May 2015, De Lima claimed that a witness has agreed to testify against the existence of the DDS.
When she was elected senator, she launched a probe on alleged state-sponsored extra-judicial killings borne out of Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
Duterte vowed to investigate De Lima for her slow response to the drug issue inside the New Bilibid Prison.
He insisted that De Lima is neither a political prisoner nor a prisoner of conscience, as the charges stemmed from police investigations.
Robredo praised De Lima — who hails from the Bicol region — for being an inspiration to many people.
“Your strength and dauntless courage in the face of these personal trials are an inspiration to us all,” she said.
“Stay strong. I have no doubt, the day will come soon, when you will walk under free skies, head held high in vindication, to the thanks of all those you sacrificed your own freedom for,” she added. / gsg
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