A group of Filipino clergy has expressed support this week for calls to release jailed former senator Leila de Lima.
In a letter, the group Clergy for the Moral Choice urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to release the former senator “in the interest of justice” and to foster “unity.”
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters since 2017 over drug charges.
“In the interest of justice and fostering the unity that will strengthen our bonds as a nation we asked, we appeal, we fervently even pray that Senator De Lima be released at the soonest possible time,” Divine Word priest Flaviano “Flavie” Villanueva read part of the letter.
The group reminded Marcos that he campaigned on the platform of unity, “and thus won over a majority of our people who believe in your peaceful message torn as they are by values issues that continue to divide our country in the years prior to your assumption of the presidency.”
“We appeal to your sense of fairness, truth and justice which you have repeatedly espouse in your speeches here and abroad,” read the priests’ letter to the president.
“We appeal to you to free Senator Leila De Lima,” they said, adding that as the newly elected president, “you provided us the hope that justice will finally be done to former Senator Leila De Lima.”
“Now is the time to turn words into actions,” said the group.
In an interview with reporters on Monday, February 20, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he does not personally object to a possible bail plea from De Lima’s camp.
“We will not object. I am not objecting, personally, personally, no, to any plea that will free anybody from jail,” he said, adding, however, that the issue is “better addressed in court.”
“It is a power left to the judges to decide and even to the higher courts if need be, if they want to go to the higher courts,” said Remulla.
“So let it be that way, if they wish to petition for bail or for habeas corpus, so be it. It is her right after all, as a citizen detained, to ask the courts why she is detained and for the courts to decide on whether or not a grant of liberty is appropriate under the circumstances,” added the Justice secretary.
De Lima’s lawyers earlier said they will file a supplemental motion for bail for her release within the month.