Senators hail de Lima latest acquittal: Real crime was her arrest
MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Friday hailed the latest acquittal of detained former Senator Leila de Lima from a drug case filed against her during the Duterte administration.
De Lima has won two of the three cases against her for alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade, leaving only one pending for decision. She has been in detention since February 2017 but has consistently denied the drug charges, which she deemed fabricated.
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, who sought reelection alongside de Lima in the 2022 polls, said she is hopeful for the embattled political prisoner’s “full vindication and eventual liberty.”
“The false narrative and web of lies that led to her imprisonment is finally being undone. The real crime has always been her arrest,” she said in a statement.
Hontiveros said de Lima is “owed a speedy acquittal” in the last drug case lodged against her “after enduring so much for six long years.”
“Justice for former Sen. Leila will be completed when the sinister plot to put her in jail only for speaking out for the truth and welfare of our fellow Filipinos is fully exposed in daylight. May this pave the road to justice for all victims of the war on drugs and sound the death knell for this inhuman policy,” she said.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel, who was an ally of the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte prior to splitting into factions of the PDP-Laban, lauded the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 for its verdict on de Lima’s case.
“Congratulations to the court for being true to its mandate to dispense justice without fear or favor by strictly following the evidence,” he told reporters in a message.
In 2021, de Lima scored her first win when one of the three-drug cases lodged against her was dismissed by the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 205.
The remaining drug case against de Lima is pending before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256.
Her co-accused, in this case, include her former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, former Bureau of Corrections Director Franklin Jesus Bucayu and his former staff Wilfredo Elli, as well as de Lima’s ex-aide Joenel Sanchez and nephew Jose Adrian Dera.
De Lima has been a fierce critic of Duterte. In her stint as head of the Commission on Human Rights, she led the investigation into the killings of the so-called Davao Death Squad during Duterte’s term as Davao City mayor.
She would later seek a Senate probe into the bloody drug war during Duterte’s presidency.