Leila de Lima

‘Long overdue justice’: De Lima says she will gain freedom on case’s merits

Jairo Bolledo

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‘Long overdue justice’: De Lima says she will gain freedom on case’s merits

DETAINED. Former senator Leila de Lima attends one of the hearings for her case in September 2022.

Leila de Lima Facebook page

Leila de Lima's statement comes after Justice Secretary Boying Remulla said they will oppose the former lawmaker's bail if her camp continues to base the petition on the merits of the case, and not on humanitarian grounds

MANILA, Philippines – After Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said the government will oppose Leila de Lima’s bail if it will not be based on humanitarian grounds, De Lima said she will gain her “freedom” based on the merits of her case.

“I will gain my freedom on the merits, because the DOJ has no case against me from the very beginning,” De Lima said in a statement on Friday, April 21.

De Lima also noted how the justice department “maintained” the case against her.

“I thank Sec. Remulla for his concern about my ordeal, especially after I was taken hostage and almost killed in my detention cell. But I cannot thank him as the head of the agency that is primarily responsible for the fabrication of the charges against me during the time of Duterte, and maintained, to date,” the opposition leader said.

“Justice and freedom for me are long overdue,” she added.

On Thursday, April 20, Remulla said they will oppose De Lima’s bail if the former lawmaker’s camp will continue to push for her bail based on the merits of the case. The incumbent DOJ chief said they will not oppose the motion for temporary release if it will be based on humanitarian grounds or by invoking the right to speedy trial through the writ of habeas corpus.

De Lima’s camp filed a motion for bail to seek her temporary release as early as February – and it took two months for the government to react to it.

Remulla’s latest pronouncements on De Lima’s bail also come after prosecutors sought to reopen case No. 165, one of De Lima’s pending case. The prosecutors filed the motion to reopen the case despite the court’s move that set the promulgation of judgment on May 12.

What the case prosecutors want to open is criminal case No. 165 or the charge against De Lima for alleged violation of section 5 of the Dangerous Drugs Act. The case was filed based on the allegation that De Lima extorted money from New Bilibid Prison inmates through former acting Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos and her former aide, Ronnie Dayan. 

Ragos, the DOJ’s star witness, already retracted his statements against De Lima and said he was forced to lie.

Meanwhile, the other case was filed against De Lima for allegedly tolerating the “widespread drug trade” inside Bilibid’s maximum security compound. This is the charge where De Lima seeks bail.

In the instance where De Lima will be acquitted in the Ragos case, and will be granted bail on her other case, the former lawmaker will finally enjoy temporary freedom after years of being under detention.

De Lima, one of the staunchest critics of former president Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody drug war, has been in detention for over six years over drug-related charges filed against her under Duterte. At present, De Lima has been acquitted in one of three charges. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.