Press Release
July 20, 2020

Dispatch from Crame No. 855:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the Reported Death of Jaybee Sebastian


My lawyers are still assessing the effect of Sebastian's death on the cases against me, considering that he is or was the Duterte regime's supposed "star" witness.

However, all testimonies coming from the inmates and some other so-called witnesses are all fabrications anyway. One less fabrication might be good in my case, but let us not forget all the other testimony fabrications. Whether the fabricator is dead or alive does not change the fact that their stories are all lies, and that the cases against me are all fake.

Any judge worth his or her salt and who is still independent of Malacañang would readily see through all this machinated persecution of an opposition figure. He or she will not see the cases on the basis of mere technicality like the number of witnesses, and be extra perceptive on the issue of the credibility of convicted prisoners whose very lives and freedom depend on Duterte. He or she should verily know that of course they are not credible. Duterte holds them all by their throats.

The Duterte regime can have 100 live witnesses for all I care. But this still does not change the fact that the charges against me are absolutely false and fictitious. Conversely, the regime's witnesses can all be dead, but this will not prevent Duterte and his operators from inventing other evidence to keep me in jail.

My point is, under normal conditions, these cases would have been dismissed a long time ago. But under conditions of a dictatorship where it is the dictator himself who has a very personal stake on the cases, and given the state of our justice system, I will not wonder if dead witnesses can still be made to rise from the grave and made to testify.

That being said, I want to raise the alarm again, as I repeatedly did in the past, on the dire conditions existing in our jails and prisons during this pandemic, and even in pre-pandemic times. COVID-19 is not a joke, as the Duterte regime has treated it, especially in our prison system that hosts the perfect conditions for the spread of the virus.

Regardless of who the dead are, whether free citizens or PDLs, they shall remain to be counted as the victims of the incompetence, indifference, and impunity of the Duterte Administration in dealing with the pandemic that has resulted in more suffering for our people, not to mention the devastation of the economy after months of lockdown but with absolutely nothing to show for it.

It is time for this whole administration to step down, get out of the way, and hand over the reins of government to the more capable and tireless Vice President. ###

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 855, here:

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