MANILA, PHILIPPINES – After six years in detention since President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, Sen. Leila de Lima was finally released on bail yesterday, November 13, 2023.
de Lima was jailed by the former administration when she started to raise concerns about the violations committed in Duterte’s war against drugs.
Sen. Leila de Lima was arrested on November 24, 2017, by the Philippine National Police on the grounds that she was involved in drug-related activities. The Senator is one of the biggest critics of former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and has been vocal about the former administration’s blatant disregard for human rights during the height of the war on drugs, with extrajudicial killings on a high.
Ever since her arrest, non-government organizations, both local and international, have been fighting for her release, saying that the claims against her were fabricated and the testimonies against Sen. de Lima were false.
What happened to Leila de Lima’s court proceedings was always unduly delayed. These delays include the failure of the prosecution’s witnesses to appear in court, and various judges have been changed throughout her trial.
In 2018, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention decided that de Lima’s detention was arbitrary and lacking in legal basis. The Senator’s right to a fair trial was discriminated against.
Finally, after six years behind bars, Sen. Leila de Lima has been released by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court with bail amounting to three hundred thousand pesos each. Bail was also granted to the co-accused, former Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) director Franklin Bucayu, former aides/drivers Ronnie Dayan and Joenel Sanchez, and Jose Adrian Derain.
Senator Risa Hontiveros has released a statement on de Lima’s granting of bail stating, “Salamat sa Diyos, LAYA NA SI LEILA. Matapos ang anim na maipit na taon ng pagkakulong, her spirit remains unbowed.”
The Senator then continued, “Her release from prison through bail is the beginning of the end to this shameful episode in our democracy. I thank all the lawyers, advocates, and the ordinary Filipinos who have lent their voices and support to #FreeLeila, everyone who did not stand idly – you all remind this country of the very essence of democracy.”
Other Filipinos have also shared their sentiments about Sen. Leila de Lima’s freedom.