De Lima thanks U.S. Senate for ‘standing strong for larger truths’

MANILA, Philippines – Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima is grateful to the United States Senate for approving a resolution that seeks sanctions against Philippine officials linked to her detention and to the alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

“I sincerely thank the granite resolve of Senators [Dick] Durbin, [Edward] Markey, [Marco] Rubio, [Marsha] Blackburn, [Chris] Coons, [Patrick] Leahy, and [Ben] Cardin, and the rest of the US Senate for standing strong and firm for the larger truths behind my persecution,” De Lima said in a dispatch from her jail cell in Camp Crame on Sunday, January 12.  

The US Senate passed on January 9 Senate Resolution No. 142, which invokes the Global Magnitsy Act, an American law that gives the US executive branch the power to impose visa and travel restrictions as well as financial sanctions on human rights violators anywhere in the world. (READ: Why the Global Magnitsky Act matters to the Philippines) 

For the Philippines, the resolution covers government officials and security forces responsible for extrajudicial killings as well those involved in the arrest and prolonged detention of De Lima, President Rodrigo Duterte’s fiercest critic. (READ: [OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Leila de Lima, the missed tipping point

The embattled senator is a staunch critic of Duterte’s violent war against drugs that has killed more than 6,000 people. Human rights groups, however, estimate the numbers could reach almost 27,000 to include victims of vigilante-style killings. (READ: The Impunity Series) 

De Lima has been detained since February 24, 2017, due to what she called as trumped-up multiple drug charges against her. (READ: Int'l rights group seeks U.N. experts' help in De Lima release)

"The case against me, apart from being fake and invented, has no internal legal consistency or integrity altogether and has been fueled by tyrannical powers and alignment of greed and political opportunism in the Philippine politics,” said De Lima.  

“That is clear since day [one],” added the senator. 

Philippine officials, however, did not take the passage of US Senate Resolution 142 sitting down.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the American lawmakers were “misinformed,” while Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr vowed the country would not give up its authority to try De Lima in court. 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also said he was shocked and offended by Washington's move to "interfere" with Manila's judicial process. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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