Bullit's Eye News

Hopes are high for De Lima’s release soon

Former senator Leila De Lima is escorted into a courtroom at the resumption of the hearing on her petition for bail at the Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City in the southern suburb of Manila on Monday, March 20.

De Lima has been detained for more than six years on what her lawyers claim are trumped-up drug charges by former president Rodrigo Duterte. In the course of the proceedings, three key witnesses of the prosecution have recanted their testimonies against her.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, have called for De Lima’s release.

“De Lima should never have spent a day in prison but instead she has languished there for six years. The government must urgently give her the freedom and justice she deserves after such an appalling ordeal,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Southeast Asia researcher for Amnesty International, said.

De Lima’s lawyer, Boni Tacardon, did not cross-examine Jojo Baligtad, the last witness presented by the prosecution because, he said, Baligtad never mentioned De Lima in the hearing.

Tacardon said they’re hoping for the immediate ruling on the petition for bail.

– Photos and video by Bullit Marquez for VERA Files.