By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent
Before adjourning to St. Petersburg in the Russian Federation last October 18, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) General Assembly (which was attended by Philippine Senators led by Senate President Aquilino “Koko”Pimentel III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon) adopted the Human Rights Committee’s report and recommendation for IPU to send a trial observer to monitor the case of detained Sen. Leila de Lima.
In its 16-page report last July 27, the IPU also expressed grave concern over the trumped-up charges against her which it said were based on dubious evidence and over-reliance on testimonies of convicted drug inmates.
“In each of the three cases, there are serious questions and doubts about the evidence. There are general concerns about the over-reliance on testimonies by convicted drug lords, not only because they are proven criminals but because these individuals have an axe to grind with Sen. de Lima,” the report said.
It also called on Pimentel to take up the cudgels for Sen. De Lima to ensure that her rights are not violated as she faces trumped-up charges levelled against her.
“The Senate has a special responsibility to help ensure that concerns about due process regarding one of its members are effectively addressed. The delegation therefore calls on the Senate, through its President, to do everything possible in this regard and thus help ensure that Sen. de Lima can participate again in its work as soon as possible,” it added.
De Lima has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame since last year over drug charges. She was accused of receiving drug money from convicted drug lords detained at the New Bilibid Prison (NPB) in Camp Crame to bankroll his senatorial camoaign for the May 2016 elections.
The IPU representatives were tasked to monitor De Lima’s legal proceedings as it reiterated its call for her release from detention.
De Lima last October 22 expressed elation and welcomed the decision of the IPU to send their relresentatives.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte administration, said she is grateful for the IPU’s resolve to get a clearer and unbiased view of the trumped-up cases of illegal drug trade filed against her.
Despite the Duterte administration’s obvious effort to intimidate and silence her through her continued unjust detention, De Lima said she is grateful that the Inter-Parliamentary Union vows to fight for her right to a fair trial.
“I thank the IPU for defending my causes and vouching for my integrity. I know that my fight is not my fight alone as this is the fight for human rights, democracy and rule of law. I will never be cowed until this government decides to value democratic principles and respect for human rights,” she said.
“As I’ve mentioned before, the support I’m getting from international groups and local supporters who refuse to turn a blind eye on the injustices happening in the country gives me more courage and strength to keep fighting the good fight,” she added.
IPU’s Committee on Human Rights President Fawzia Koofi (Afghanistan), along with MP Fazle Karim Chowdhury (Bangladesh) and Rogier Huzienga, IPU Human Rights program manager, visited De Lima in detention last May 22-14 to check on her condition and get first-hand information about the former justice secretary’s case.
The IPU is among the growing number of multilateral organizations and human rights advocates who have expressed serious concern over the illegal arrest and detention of De Lima over trumped-up charges of illegal drug trafficking.