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De Lima among 187 ‘persecuted’ members of parliament, says global org

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima is surrounded by police escorts on her way to court in Quezon City, May 15, 2019. Handout

IPU asserts call to send observer to lawmaker’s trial

MANILA – Detained Sen. Leila de Lima is among 187 “persecuted members of parliament” from around the world, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has said as it renewed its call for the lawmaker’s release. 

In a statement, De Lima’s office said the IPU, a global organization of national parliaments, adopted a resolution in April “urging the Philippine government to drop all politically-motivated charges against De Lima that were based on unsubstantiated statements of convicted felons.” 

It cited IPU’s statement that read: “In the Philippines, the IPU remains concerned that, more than two years after her arrest, Senator Leila de Lima is still in detention despite the absence of any corroborated evidence to justify the charges against her.” 

“The IPU calls on the authorities to release her immediately and for the legal proceedings against her to be dropped,” the IPU said. 

Malacañang had rejected this call, citing the IPU’s alleged bias for De Lima and her fellow administration critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. 

Amid fierce criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies, De Lima was arrested in February 2017 on drug charges she has branded as political persecution. The opposition senator is currently facing trial. 

The IPU asserted that the Duterte administration should allow its representative “to monitor the legality and fairness of any trial proceedings” against De Lima. 
 
It had resolved to do this in October 2017 and, a year later, sought to send an official mission to the Philippines to check on De Lima’s case. 

De Lima, a former human rights commissioner and justice secretary, said she hopes that the government “can finally realize that the IPU is merely appealing to the sense of fairness and justice of the court to get a fair view of my case.”

An IPU delegation visited De Lima in May 2017. 

The IPU said 84 percent of 187 “persecuted” members of parliament are opposition members, and that out of those experiencing human rights violations, 25 percent are women. 

Earlier this month, Australian lawyer Mark Trowell asked the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court handling De Lima’s drug case to allow him to observe her May 3 hearing. The setting was postponed. 

Apart from drug charges, De Lima is also on trial for a disobedience to summons case at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court over her failure to appear in a House of Representatives inquiry into the drug trade at the national penitentiary in 2016.