SENATOR Antonio F. Trillanes IV, in a privileged speech on Wednesday, Aug. 30, rallied his colleagues in the Senate to clamor for the release of fellow senator Leila M. de Lima.
Ms. De Lima, a leading critic of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s drug war and its toll on human lives, was ordered detained in February on drug charges that have been disputed by her political allies as well as international observers monitoring the human rights situation in the Philippines. Last Sunday, she celebrated her 58th birthday at her detention quarters in Camp Crame.
Mr. Trillanes in his speech, delivered mostly in Filipino, said the testimonies against Ms. De Lima are made by “coerced or compromised witnesses,” whom he identified as former Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos, Ms. De Lima’s former aide Ronnie Dayan, and Kerwin Espinosa and other convicted drug lords.
Mr. Trillanes recalled Ms. De Lima’s leading a raid at the New Bilibid Prison on three occasions, during her watch as Justice secretary sometime 2014. “Because of this, she earned the ire of the convicted drug lords,” he said.
The opposition senator noted further the continuing drug trade at Bilibid now as cited by Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II himself. Mr. Trillanes said this was “proof that Senator De Lima is not the Drug Queen there or anywhere else.”
“That is why I appeal to my colleagues in the Senate, it’s time to correct this great wrong and join my call to free Senator Leila de Lima.
“I know Senator De Lima may have offended some of you, personally, during her tenure as Secretary of Justice. I had my own run-ins with her when she opposed our amnesty then,” said Mr. Trillanes, a detainee during the Arroyo presidency.
“Quite ironic because here I am now, standing by her; standing for her; fighting for her,” he added. “This is what we should be to each other, especially if it’s right. She has been detained for six months….My colleagues, it’s time to do the right thing.
“There is no doubt about it, sooner rather than later, she will be freed….When that day comes, I hope all of us here in this august chamber would be warmheartedly remembered by Senator Leila de Lima as among those who fought for her freedom.”
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