Press Release
February 24, 2017

Statement of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on the arrest of Senator Leila De Lima

Senator Leila De Lima's arrest based on baseless accusations is outright political persecution and a travesty of the country's justice system. It is a throwback to an authoritarian past. It highlights the slow death of our democracy and rule of law.

This sets a dangerous precedent for the government to arrest and incarcerate individuals that it perceives as its enemies, on the basis only of mere allegations and without due process. In the first place, the complaint was based only on the testimony of convicted drug lords who were used as state witnesses, in violation of the Witness Protection Act that states that those previously convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude cannot be state witnesses.

By stopping at nothing to persecute Sen. Leila, the state sends a chilling message to all--political dissent under this administration will not be tolerated. All those who will oppose will be destroyed.

Hindi si Senator De Lima ang sinuko ngayon kundi ang demokrasya. Sinuko ng gobyerno ang demokrasya ng bayan. Laway lang ang puhunan, pwede ka nang kasuhan at ipakulong ng gobyerno.

The arrest of Senator De Lima also demonstrated the government's two-faced sense of justice. The government filed cases against Senator De Lima, yet, it will acquit pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles from the Benhur Luy illegal detention case. President Duterte is hellbent on sending our colleague to jail but the likes of Peter Lim and Jack Lam continue to evade the long arm of the law. Dubious drug charges were filed against the senator while the cases of real high-profile drug traffickers will be dropped.

I call on the people to exercise vigilance. I call on them to publicly express their strong disapproval of the blatant abuse of our justice system for political persecution.

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