MANILA, Philippines — Three United States senators welcomed detained Senator Leila de Lima’s acquittal in one of her three drug cases but said this was “clearly not enough.”
In a joint statement, Senators Ed Markey, Richard Durbin, and Patrick Leahy did not mince words in accusing the Duterte administration of “wrongfully” detaining the Philippine lawmaker.
“While we are pleased that one of the three illegitimate charges against Senator Leila de Lima has been dropped, it is clearly not enough,” the senators said.
“The Duterte administration has wrongfully detained Senator de Lima for four years under false charges because she is willing to speak out and stand up to the egregious abuses of the government,” they added.
The senators, who have repeatedly called on the Philippine government to release de Lima, said Duterte “has tried to silence his critics and the independent press through false and politically motivated charges, but his disdain for human rights, free speech, and democracy are on clear display to the world.”
“We will continue to hold the Durerte government responsible for its abuses until Senator de Lima is released, all of the fabricated charges against her and other prisoners of conscience are dismissed, and the victims of President Duterte’s campaign of abuse against the Filipino people have obtained justice,” they added.
The three US senators were earlier ordered banned from entering the Philippines following their appeals for the immediate release of de Lima, one of Duterte’s staunchest critics.
De Lima is facing two cases of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading before Branch 205 of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. The senator has filed a demurrer to evidence in both cases.
Earlier this week, the court dismissed one case, where her nephew Jose Adrian Draw, was her co-accused; and ruled to keep the other and deny the senator a chance to post bail.
De Lima is facing another drug case before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256. In this case, she has five other co-accused. Here, the prosecution is still presenting evidence for the senator’s motion for bail.
Reacting to the senator’s acquittal, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said this shows that the Philippine justice system “works.”
Meanwhile, Malacañang said de Lima has no reason to celebrate even if she was acquitted in a drug case because she’s still in jail.