Tril­lanes calls for De Lima’s re­lease

Business World - - THE NATION -

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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