[Petition] Release former Senator Leila de Lima Now!!

Release former Senator Leila de Lima Now!!

February 24, 2023

His Excellency
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Malacanang Palace

Honorable Jesus Crispin Remulla
Secretary of Justice
Padre Faura, Manila

Dear Mr. President:

Peace Be With You!

It has been six years since former Senator Leila de Lima was arrested and detained for trumped up drug charges. Separated from family and friends, she has suffered from loneliness, depression and anxiety. Prevented from discharging her duties as a duly elected Senator of the Republic, her constituents were deprived of her service. The latest hostage taking revealed her exposure to risks and vulnerability to attacks inside the Camp Crame Detention Center.

Mr. President while you have repeatedly said to let the courts decide, we are all witness to how the judicial process is painfully slow. In the two cases filed against her, five judges have inhibited, two opted for early retirement, and two acted as temporary/acting judges. For Criminal Case 165, the current judge is the fifth assigned judge. For Criminal Case 167, the current judge is the sixth judge.

Among witnesses, four have recanted. All have claimed to have been coerced by government officials into falsely accusing her. The latest recantation was made by Rafael Ragos, former Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Corrections. Cross-examined by the prosecution, Mr. Ragos stood firm in his position that he was coerced, intimidated and threatened to implicate former Senator Leila de Lima in drug trafficking. The only remaining witnesses are criminals convicted of robbery with murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking and other non-bailable crimes.

You campaigned on the platform of unity and, thus won over a majority of our people, who believed in your peaceful message, torn as they are by various issues that divided the country in the years prior to your assumption of the presidency. In the interest of justice and fostering the unity that will strengthen our bonds as a nation, we ask that Sen. de Lima be released at the soonest possible time.

We appeal to you as a family man who knows how old and sick parents long for the love and care of their children especially those whom they have not seen for an extended period of time. Sen. Leila’s 89 year-old mother lies in her sick bed in Naga, Camarines Sur waiting for her daughter to come home. Quoting Sen. Leila: “Miss na miss ko na si Mommy. Gusto kong sapaglaya ko at pagkamit ng hustisya mula sa di makatarungangpagkakulong, ay mapuntahan ko siya agad, mayakap at maalagaan.”

Mr. President, we appeal to your sense of fairness, truth and justice which you have repeatedly espoused in your speeches here and abroad. We appeal to you to free former Senator Leila de Lima. We are joined in this appeal by the undersigned citizens who fervently hope that your government will uphold its commitment to democracy, freedom and human rights. 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 for you to turn words into action. We are waiting, Mr. President. And so is the whole world!

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