Jailed Leila de Lima, a Philippine human rights activist, moved one step closer to freedom on Friday after being cleared of one of the two remaining trafficking in drugs charges brought against her by the Rodrigo Duterte government. De Lima, once a senator and law minister, has been held until February 2017 on suspicions that she and rights groups claim were made up as retaliation for criticizing Duterte and his deadly drug war. De Lima, 63, and a third party were exonerated “on the theory of fair doubt,” based on the decision issued by Manila jury trial judge Abraham Alcantara.
“The arrangement day is wonderful. After the verdict, as police took de Lima to a waiting bus, she told reporters, “This is the start of my vindication. It would be nice to say to my captors, “You can never kill the truth. She was found not guilty, but she will still be detained while the other offense she is facing goes to trial. She has requested release and awaits the court’s ruling. She is charged with receiving cash from inmates at the biggest prison in the nation as a reward for releasing them to market drugs while serving as justice minister under Benigno Aquino from 2010 to 2015. However, the prosecution’s proof has been unraveling as a result of the deaths of two of their key witnesses and the dismissal of a third allegation against de Lima. Several witnesses have reversed their statements, alleging that they were forced to make the claims. The court ruled that the administration of the law could not be compromised in the name of caution in the fight against illicit drugs. The court’s ruling was welcomed by the administration, while rights organizations demanded de Lima’s immediate release. The rule of the law has won, and this merely serves as a reminder to us that the judiciary’s independence is a fundamental tenet of our system of democracy. Therefore, it’s excellent for us, said Justice Minister Crispin Remulla addressing reporters. In a statement, Montse Ferrer, interim deputy regional coordinator for research for Amnesty International, urged the authorities to stop holding her in captivity for any longer and enable her to be rejoined with her loved ones after six hard years.
The truth now trumps false information. According to Vicente de Lima, the younger brother of de Lima, justice won over injustice today. The innocence, according to Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch, showed “the bogus, abusive nature of the charges.” In 2018, a UN panel on Arbitrary arrest came to the conclusion that de Lima’s arrest was “arbitrary in the lack of a legal foundation” and that her claim to an impartial trial hadn’t been “respected. Foreign diplomats and human rights advocates have redoubled their calls for de Lima’s release after President Ferdinand Marcos won office. She carried out the probes initially while serving as the Philippines’s human rights commissioner and afterward as the current administration’s justice minister. After Duterte’s landslide victory, De Lima, who earned a seat in the Senate in 2016, became one of the few opponents in the chamber.