Press Release
April 30, 2022

De Lima grateful for mounting calls for justice, freedom after Espinosa recantation

Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima thanked individuals and groups who expressed their solidarity for her after Kerwin Espinosa recanted all of his allegations against her in relation to illegal drug trade.

De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said the mounting calls for her release give her hope that the justice she has long been fighting for is already within reach.

"Since Kerwin Espinosa recanted all his allegations against me, the clamor for my freedom and justice is louder than ever," she said.

"Sa inyong lahat na nagmamalasakit, kung hindi man nagagalit, sa ginawa sa akin ng rehimen na ito, at nananawagan sa aking agarang paglaya, taos puso po akong nagpapasalamat. Tandaan lang po natin na hindi natutulog ang Diyos. Alam Niya ang lahat. Siya ang Panginoon ng Katotohanan at Katarungan," she added.

After Espinosa retracted his drug allegations against De Lima in a counter-affidavit filed before the Department of Justice last April 28, supporters of De Lima renewed their calls for her immediate release from detention.

Vice presidential candidate and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, in a statement, said De Lima should be freed considering that the recent development shows that the allegations made against her were only made up.

"Sinabi mismo ng aminadong drug lord na walang katotohanan ang mga paratang laban kay Senator Leila. Patunay na gawa-gawa ang mga ito. Napakalaking sampal sa katarungan ang mahigit limang taong pagkakapiit ni Senator Leila. Palayain na si Senator Leila, agad-agad," he said.

Another vice presidential aspirant, Prof. Walden Bello, for his part, said that one of his and Ka Leody De Guzman's campaign calls has been the "unconditional release of this long-suffering victim of a frame-up based on nothing else but the president['s] vindictiveness."

On Twitter, Senatorial aspirants Atty. Chel Diokno, and former Representatives Teddy Baguilat and Neri Colmenares also demanded for De Lima's freedom.

Reposting a copy of Espinosa's counter-affidavit, Diokno wrote: "Patunay lang ito na walang laman at gawa-gawa lang ang kaso laban kay @SenLeiladeLima. Malinaw rin na ang mga kasong isinampa ay kapritso lang at paghihiganti. Free Leila now!"

Baguilat said he hopes to share the stage with De Lima, who is also running under the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket, in the upcoming political rally with Tropang Angat. Colmenares said that "the trumped up charges against Sen. Leila de Lima have now crumbled. She should be freed now..."

Human Rights Watch also joined calls to free De Lima, with Carlos H. Conde saying that "the charges against @SenLeilaDeLima are fabricated by the Duterte regime. She should be released from police detention immediately."

Butch Olano, section director of Amnesty International Philippines, said this is a "veritable proof" that De Lima "is a victim of political persecution, targeted and singled out by the Duterte administration for her legitimate work as a human rights defender and duly-elected legislator."

Opinion columnists Richard Heydarian stressed that of all the critics of "TATAY's WORST policies," alluding to Mr. Duterte, "Senator DE LIMA has undoubtedly made the BIGGEST SACRIFICE of all!", while Gideon Lasco called for the Senator's "immediate freedom."

Veteran lawyer Theodore Te, meanwhile, called on the justice secretary to direct prosecutors to do the following: withdraw the cases against De Lima, move to dismiss the cases and not object to her immediate release from detention.

Even Filipino artists like Kevin Eric Raymundo (Tarantadong Kalbo) and Kapitan Tambay also showed their support for the Senator through comic strips depicting her plight as a political prisoner and calling for her release.

Some netizens also expressed regret and apologized for criticizing De Lima and poking fun at her situation before.

"I'm actually crying. I was once one of her harshest critics. Looking back at my FB posts then, nakakahiya would be an understatement. Sorry, Sen. @SenLeiladeLima! You did not deserve any of these," one user said.

Other personalities who also expressed their solidarity for De Lima include VP Leni Robredo's spokesperson, Atty. Barry Gutierrez, former Solicitor General Atty. Florin "Pilo" Hilbay, and veteran journalists Karen Davila and Inday Espina-Verona, among others.

The hashtags #FreeLeilaNow and #FreeLeiladeLimaNow trended on Twitter Philippines last April 28.

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