MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima on Friday, December 9, vowed to return to the country after her “official” visits to the United States and Germany starting December 11.
Responding to concerns she might escape the charges against her, De Lima said:
“There is, however, nothing to worry about as I will surely return, along with my staff who will be with me during these foreign visits.”
“I hope my brief absence would provide a welcome relief and respite to my detractors and critics. I will keep them in mind though,” the senator said in a statement.
De Lima said she is set to receive an award in the US and to speak at a conference in Germany.
“After complying with the travel documents required for a public official, I am now preparing to leave on official visits – first to receive an award in the US and secondly, to speak at the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, Germany,” she said.
The two trips, she said, are crucial to her as a senator, as they would give her the opportunity to speak before world leaders about human rights.
De Lima is the fiercest and most vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his stance on human rights. She launched a Senate probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings and presented witness Edgar Matobato, who accused Duterte of ordering executions when he was mayor of Davao City.
“Both visits are very important to me because as a senator, I will have a chance to speak before influential world leaders and global thinkers on raising awareness and support for human rights, an advocacy I am passionate about,” the senator said.
“This is a great opportunity to meet leaders from various fields from around the world and learn from their respective government’s initiatives and challenges about cultural diplomacy,” she said.
De Lima is facing several charges for her alleged links to illegal drugs, which she has repeatedly denied. She and her former driver Ronnie Dayan had been subjects of a House inquiry into the proliferation of drugs in the national penitentiary. She is also facing two complaints before the ethics committee in the Senate.
The justice department earlier ordered the issuance of a lookout bulletin for De Lima, her former driver, and an ex-security aide, among others. – Rappler.com