Press Release
October 12, 2019

De Lima to Locsin: Be more forthright to US gov't about her persecution

Senator Leila M. de Lima has advised Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin to be more forthright by admitting to the US government that Duterte has no plans of granting her freedom despite her innocence over the trumped-up drug charges filed against her.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the present government, made the statement after Locsin had claimed that the Senator cannot be acquitted by US Congress' mere request because she has to go through a proper trial first.

"Mr. Secretary, why can't you just be forthright and say this instead: that your President will never allow my acquittal. Remember his famous lines to me -- 'You're finished!' and 'You will rot in jail!'?" she asked in her Dispatch from Crame No. 615.

"Let that sink in. Tell me, would my acquittal be ever acceptable to a despotic and self-absorbed leader that he is? It would drive him more into madness..." she added.

Locsin claimed that US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy's move to propose "entry ban" into the US against De Lima's persecutors, through their amendment to the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, was an interference in Philippine judicial processes and governance.

Despite the growing number of US lawmakers calling for De Lima's release, Locsin maintained that she could not be acquitted even if US officials petitioned for it.

Last Sept. 27, the US Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment which asks the US Secretary of State to apply the subsection on the prohibition of entry to foreign government officials proven to be involved in De Lima's wrongful imprisonment.

While De Lima agreed that Locsin was right in saying that the US Senators' move cannot free her, she maintained that the said Senators' are "not in any way imposing their will on our local courts."

The lady Senator from Bicol said the US Senators' effort to champion her causes before the US Senate transcends the nuances and pitfalls of the Philippines' vulnerable justice system.

"Duterte defenders (read: enablers) fail or refuse to see or appreciate the whole context of the persistent action of these US lawmakers, and other parliamentarians from other countries, [i]n calling out the Duterte regime's persecution of a perceived archenemy and abuse of our justice system to serve such end," she said.

In a Twitter post last Oct. 4, US Senator Edward Markey echoed his colleagues' call for De Lima's immediate release, saying that Durbin and Leahy are right to push for accountability in the Philippine [government] by legislating an entry ban against De Lima's persecutors.

Markey, along with Durbin and three other US Senators, filed US Senate Resolution No. 142 in April calling for the immediate release of De Lima and condemning the Philippine government for its continued detention of her.

A staunch critic of the administration's murderous war on drugs, De Lima has earned Mr. Duterte's ire for initiating a Senate investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country in July 2016, eventually leading to her unjust detention.

Aside from the US lawmakers, De Lima continues to gain support from multilateral organizations and human rights advocates here and abroad who have expressed serious concern over her illegal arrest and unjust detention over trumped-up drug charges.

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