De Lima elated over visit of European parliamentarians
QUEZON CITY --- Senator Leila M. de Lima yesterday thanked the 12-man mission from the European Parliament (EP) who visited her in detention at the Custodial Center –Philippine National Police (PNP), Camp Crame, Quezon City. De Lima, who is regarded as a prisoner of conscience, said the EP members’ visit reaffirmed her strong opposition to the government’s war on drugs that led to the rise of extrajudicial and summary killings in the country. She believed that her unjust incarceration based on obviously falsified testimonies and fabricated evidence is meant to silence and persecute her for taking a strong stance against the government’s all-out war on drugs. “I personally thanked the MEPs for expressing indignation and serious concerns over my arrest during their plenary session in Strasbourg, France last March. They stood firm in saying that the charges filed against me were fabricated and subsequently called for my immediate release through their European Parliament (EP) Resolution,” she said in her 116th Dispatch from Crame. “My guests looked into my condition as a ‘prisoner of conscience’, deprived of liberty for defending human rights, opposing the brazen killings and flagrant violations of human dignity in the wake of Duterte’s murderous war on drugs,” she added. The EP mission arrived in the country last July 17 to check on the current human rights violations committed under the government’s all-out war on drugs, especially about the spate of extrajudicial and summary killings. It also visited Senator De Lima to look into her current condition and to solicit her views on present human rights situation in the Philippines, including pending bills in Congress, such as the restoration of death penalty, and the move to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility. De Lima who is detained on trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the Duterte administration said she believes that these cases were invented by the government due to her strong opposition to its violent campaign against illegal drugs, and also President Duterte’s personal vendetta against her. “We also discussed the human rights situation in the country and several legislative measures, such as the re-imposition of death penalty and the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility—both of which I strongly oppose,” she said. The former justice secretary also said the visit of the EP mission is a testament that international institutions are watching how the government is handling its human rights situation, adding as well that the US Congress is set to hold hearings on the human rights violations in the Philippines. “Once again, these visits from international institutions prove that indeed, the world is watching closely what is happening in our country under the Duterte regime. The US Congress will even hold hearings on the widespread human rights violations in the Philippines,” she said. “This regime, therefore, should better shape up and stop living in a fantasy world where it believes it can do anything based on one man’s whims. The growing clamor for accountability will ensure that justice will catch up to them,” she added. De Lima added as well that the visit of the EP delegation further affirms her commitment to defend human rights in the country through meaningful legislation even while she remains in detention.