Press Release
August 4, 2020

De Lima thanks US Senators for demanding definitive US response over her continued unjust detention, PH HR abuses

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed gratitude to the five US Senators who continue to show concern over the threats to press freedom and worsening human rights violations in the country, including her continued unjust detention.

In separate letters she sent to US Senators Edward Markey, Richard Durbin, Jeffrey Merkley, Patrick Leahy, and Benjamin Cardin, De Lima thanked the five US Senators for writing to US State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo to ensure that these concerns will not go unacted upon by the US government.

"I am deeply heartened by your determined call for accountability from the US government to act with solidarity over the plight of Filipinos, myself included," part of De Lima's letter to Leahy read.

"Your collective and unceasing efforts in camaraderie with Filipinos, myself included, has my deepest respect and admiration," she told Merkely.

During these times when "there seems to be little hope," De Lima told Markey that "news that the international human rights community are at the forefront taking steps to advocate my cause is enough to fuel my faith that truth and justice will eventually prevail."

In her separate letters to Durbin and Cardin, De Lima highlighted how the support from the international community has unfailingly strengthened her resolve to fight the oppressor.

"My situation is certainly arduous but it is the affirmation and solidarity from leaders like you that help keep me going, and validate the relevance of my work," she told Durbin.

"I am very fortunate to have champions like you who are at the forefront to make sure that I obtain justice and be able to keep on advancing our common goals for human rights, democracy and rule of law," she told Cardin.

In a letter dated July 29, the five US Senators wrote to Secretary Pompeo informing the latter about the recent, ongoing human rights abuses in the Philippines.

The concerns they raised include De Lima's situation, both the aspects of the continued unjust detention and the recent incommunicado detention, as well as the finding of guilt in the cyber libel case against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, the shutting down of ABS CBN Network, and the enactment of the Anti-Terror Act.

The US solons pointedly stated that the "Trump administration has not seemingly utilized statutory authorities granted by Congress", citing the non-application of Global Magnitsky sanctions to Philippine officials implicated in the EJKs and the prolonged and arbitrary detention of De Lima.

They ended their letter to Secretary Pompeo with a request for written responses to several questions by Aug. 19, 2020 on topics that include US actions on sanctioning those involved in gross human rights violations in the country and on raising De Lima's illegitimate detention with Philippine government counterparts, among others.

Additionally, they requested for written responses if the Philippine government reversed new restrictions imposed during COVID-19 on De Lima's ability to communicate and meet with visitors including her staff.

Last Dec. 20 2019, Trump signed into law the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill which includes a provision banning the entry of Philippine government officials involved in De Lima's "wrongful imprisonment."

On January 8, the bipartisan resolution, logged as US Senate Resolution (SR) 142, calling for her immediate release from wrongful imprisonment and invoking Global Magnitsky sanctions against her persecutors, was unanimously approved by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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