Cheers from De Lima’s allies, even ‘foes’ | Inquirer News

Cheers from De Lima’s allies, even ‘foes’

JUSTICE Former Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday greets reporters, telling them from a distance, “I’m free!” at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City. One of her lawyers said De Lima won’t spend Monday night in Camp Crame, where she was detained for nearly seven years. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

JUSTICE | Former Sen. Leila de Lima greets reporters, telling them from a distance, “I’m free!” at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. One of her lawyers said De Lima won’t spend Monday night in Camp Crame, where she was detained for nearly seven years. (Photo by GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers and other officials welcomed the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court’s approval of former Sen. Leila de Lima’s bail petition — even those who had a hand in her exclusion during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte and her incarceration.

De Lima’s remaining political ally in the Senate, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, said this was “the beginning of the end to this shameful episode in our democracy.”


“Alongside countless other Filipinos, I am immensely happy for my friend and former colleague in the Senate. I know that after years of isolation, she is coming back to the loving company of her family, friends, and supporters,” Hontiveros said. “Senator Leila, we are all longing for your return. We all knew this day would come.”


Hontiveros also lamented De Lima’s “saddening and disgusting” incarceration of almost seven years, saying that she “was robbed of the many years that she was in jail only because of the lies of a few.”

Hontiveros praised the lawyers, advocates, and ordinary Filipinos who have supported the #FreeLeila campaign and expressed hope that the court will soon dismiss the last of the “trumped-up” drug trade charges against De Lima.

“In the end, no one can prevent the triumph of truth and justice,” Hontiveros said.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he would leave it up to the prosecution to determine the last drug charge against De Lima, including the option of appealing her bail.

“I call it prosecutorial independence. I do not interfere in the job of the prosecution, especially with these matters. We follow the principle of institutional continuity,” Remulla said.

‘Happy for her’

Nevertheless, the justice chief said the approved bail petition shows “the independence of the judiciary” and “that there is democracy. Democracy is alive and well in our country.”


De Lima, a leading critic of the human rights record of Duterte, has been detained for nearly seven years following the drug charges filed against her only seven months into his administration.

READ: Timeline: The ordeal of Leila de Lima

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, the Philippine National Police chief when De Lima was arrested in 2017, said: “I had expected that (her approved bail petition), because the trend in the Philippines is that whenever the administration that had filed the charges is replaced, the case somewhat weakens.”

“I’m happy for her, one soul freed from detention. If she’s happy, then I’m happy,” Dela Rosa added.

But he also said that “if she was really worthy to be granted bail or if the charges were bailable, that should have been declared from the very start.”

“I always respect court decisions as I always observe separation of powers,” Dela Rosa also said.

Sen. Grace Poe, who was among those who voted in 2016 to expel De Lima as then chair of the Senate justice committee, said: “Rich or poor, it is unjust to remain in jail for such a long time because of the slow grind of the law.”

“Seven years of incarceration is long and arduous,” Poe added.

‘Condescending offer’

US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), said: “We continue to follow [De Lima’s] case closely and look forward to seeing the remaining charges against her resolved in accordance with Philippine law.”

READ: Foreign ambassadors welcome De Lima’s release on bail 

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, De Lima’s ally in the opposition Liberal Party, said: “This [episode] finally marks an end to her odious and oppressive incarceration which has spanned 2,453 days or from Feb. 24, 2017, to Nov. 13, 2023.” “I laud Sen. Leila de Lima for her fortitude and indomitable spirit for fighting for her liberty without accepting the condescending offer of hospital or house arrest,” the lawmaker added.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said, “While we acknowledge the granting of bail as a positive development, it is crucial not to lose sight of the larger goal—the full exoneration of Sen. Leila de Lima and the release of all political prisoners.”

She also said the people responsible for the “trumped-up” charges against De Lima and her “unjust” incarceration should be held accountable.

Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said, “This (De Lima’s release)  is the biggest step in her quest for justice and redemption. The whole world will now know how Duterte misused and abused power to persecute those who dared stand up to his murderous regime.”

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In a statement, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said: “Her (De Lima’s) long detention was an injustice and we hope that those behind her unjust incarceration would be the ones who would be jailed in the near future.”

TAGS: De Lima drug cases, Leila de Lima, Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court

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