De Lima says int’l support crucial to her release

De Lima says int’l support crucial to her release

/ 05:25 AM February 21, 2024

Leila de Lima —NI΍O JESUS ORBETA


Former Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday said her legal battle would have been “worse” if not for the support of international rights watchdogs and foreign lawmakers, who had repeatedly called for her release until she was freed on bail last year.

“I am so extremely blessed by it,” she said, adding: “It meant a lot because without international support, the persecution would have been worse.”


De Lima made the remarks during the open forum of the Adrian E. Cristobal Lecture Series 2024 hosted by the University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing, where she was the keynote speaker.


The former justice secretary acknowledged how international support, amplified by local organizations, had helped her during her seven-year detention.

De Lima recounted that on the first day she was jailed at Camp Crame, the national police headquarters in Quezon City, “only a few voices” took up the cudgels for her.

But as years passed, De Lima said she observed “more and more” groups and individuals coming to her defense, demanding her immediate release and the dismissal of what they described as fabricated charges against her.

European, US legislators

Among those who threw their support behind De Lima were members of the European Parliament, the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and some United States senators, both Democrats and Republicans.

By the same token, De Lima acknowledged the role of local groups, including progressive organizations, who had continued to support her cry for freedom.

READ: INQToday: Leila De Lima granted bail, released from detention after almost seven years


On Nov. 13, 2023, De Lima was granted permission by a Muntinlupa City court to post bail after almost seven years behind bars, following the recantation of several prosecution witnesses.

The former senator, a staunch critic of former President Rodrigo Duterte and his drug war, is facing the last of three illegal drug charges filed against her during his administration.

She was accused of taking bribes from drug lords at New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City during her term as justice secretary. She has insisted the charges were fabricated by the previous administration.

‘Not vindictive’

During her talk, De Lima reiterated her plan to file countercharges against Duterte and other members of his Cabinet.

One of De Lima’s lawyers, Dino de Leon, said last year the legal actions against the former president were “in the pipeline” and that all officials involved in the cases against her may be included as respondents in the case.

“Never have we seen a president … to engage in such misogynistic actions against a woman,” De Lima said.

“Now that I am free, my lawyers are actually thinking of filing cases against him and his cohorts for his persecution against me,” she added, eliciting applause from the audience.

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“I am not vindictive. It’s just that it is a matter of justice and they have to realize that,” De Lima said. INQ

TAGS: Leila de Lima, Release, support

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