EU officials visit De Lima in jail

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Lawmakers from the European Union visited detained Senator Leila de Lima in jail on Wednesday, July 19.

The 12-member delegation of the European Parliament talked to De Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, about the human rights situation in the Philippines. They also checked her condition inside prison.

The EU delegation was led by Sweden's Soraya Post and was joined by Adam Kosa of Hungary, Rikke Karlsson of Denmark, and Josef Weidenholzer of Austria, among others.

"She seems very good and strong and we discussed her situation and she didnt complain on the police in her detention, she said they're taking care of her there. But she says that she would love to go to her family and she also would love to go to her work in the Senate," Post said.

Days before visiting De Lima, the group already met with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and minority Senator Risa Hontiveros, De Lima’s friend and ally.

De Lima said she is "deeply grateful" to the international delegation for visiting her and for expressing "serious concerns" about her arrest. For the senator, this proves that the world is monitoring the Duterte administration.

"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. 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 said in a statement.

In March 2017, the European Parliament approved a resolution calling for the release of the opposition senator, who is detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Cramp Crame over “trumped up” drug-related charges.

The EU parliament “[called] for the immediate release of Senator Leila M. De Lima, and for her to be provided with adequate security whilst in detention."

They also urged Philippine authorities "to ensure a fair trial, recalling the right to the presumption of innocence, to drop all politically motivated charges against her, and to end any further acts of harassment against her."

In September 2016 or 3 months into the Duterte administration, the parliament passed a resolution, condemning the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country and urging the Philippine government to end these.

In response, the President slammed and cursed the EU for "interfering" with domestic affairs. Duterte also refused the acceptance of EU grants, amounting to P13 billion. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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