Several Philippine Church leaders welcomed a court decision acquitting former senator Leila de Lima, who has been detained for the past six year, from a drug charge last week.
“Praise the Lord for this news,” Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference, said in a short social media post.
A court in the capital dismissed on May 12 one of two remaining criminal charges against De Lima, who was arrested months after launching an investigation into the brutal drug war of former president Rodrigo Duterte.
The former president humiliated De Lima in public speeches and accused her of receiving payoffs from convicted drug lords.
The decision marks the second acquittal out of the three cases filed against De Lima, who has been detained since February 2017.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of the national Caritas, said the court ruling “brings us closer to the realization of justice and emphasizes the importance of upholding the rule of law.”
“Her acquittal, in this case, reaffirms our belief in the merits of her defense, and serves as a testament to the flaws and inconsistencies in the charges fabricated against her,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
The bishop added that De Lima’s release from detention “is not only a significant step towards justice, but also a symbol of our collective commitment to safeguarding human rights and ensuring the rule of law.”
The ecumenical group “One Faith. One Nation. One Voice” also welcomed the court decision, describing it as a “wonderful news.”
“We underscore the blatant misogyny and demagoguery that led to her political frame-up and detention under fabricated charges,” said the group in a statement.
“Such underhanded and despicable machinations have no place in a democratic society,” it added.
Reacting to the news, former president Rodrigo Duterte said the court’s decision “must be accepted no matter how one disagrees with it.”
On May 12, the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 acquitted De Lima of involvement in the illegal drug trade.
De Lima scored her first victory in 2021 as one of the three drug cases filed against her was dismissed by the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 205, which granted her demurrer to evidence that has the effect of a case dismissal.
A demurrer is filed on the ground that the evidence presented by the prosecutors is insufficient for a criminal conviction.
The third and remaining drug case against de Lima is pending before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256. – with a report from CBCP News
Leave a Reply