Press Release
February 27, 2023

February 27, 2023


Mr. President, I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege.

One afternoon six years ago, anxiety enveloped the Senate as news that law enforcement agents were in the vicinities circulated. They were here to arrest our colleague, Senator Leila de Lima.

February 24th po ang anibersaryo ng kanyang pagkapiit and in detention, former Senator Leila has survived public vilification, lewd innuendos on her supposed sex life, the ravages of a pandemic, turning 60 and thus becoming a "dual citizen", the death of loved ones, and a shocking hostage attack the details of which are still undergoing investigation.

Last year po, sunod sunod na din ang mga recantation ng mga key witnesses.

  •  April 28th, 2022 - Drug lord Kerwin Espinosa retracted[1] his previous allegations that he had drug dealings with De Lima through Ronnie Dayan in the Bilibid, stating, in his sworn affidavit, that he was coerced, pressured, intimidated, and seriously threatened by the police.

  •  April 30th, 2022 - Former Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos retracted his testimonies that he personally delivered money from Bilibid inmates to De Lima through Dayan on two occasions in 2012. He claimed that then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre coerced him "to admit something that did not happen."

  •  May 13, 2022 - Ronnie Dayan, the former bodyguard of De Lima and a co-accused also recanted his allegations. He claimed he was told by the late House Justice committee chairman Reynaldo Umali to lie about receiving drug money for De Lima.

  •  June 1, 2022 - De Lima's camp shared copies of the 2 counter-affidavits of Marcelo Adorco, another government witness, executed in 2020 and 2022, in which he also withdrew his testimonies against the senator. Adorco said he was forced to make the claims for fear of his life.

Ang pinakamahalagang recantation ay yung kay Former Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos. Sa pagrecant ni Chief Ragos, there is no longer any evidence against Sen Leila to prove that she was involved in illegal drug trade in the Bilibid.

There are other developments that bear upon the case of our former colleague, Mr. President.

In Reyes vs. Director or Whoever is In-Charge of Camp Bagong Diwa, the Supreme Court granted Ms. Gigi Reyes's Petition for Habeas Corpus stating that her continued incarceration "has become oppressive thus infringing upon her right to liberty". It said that, "[w]hile the writ is generally not available to a person whose liberty is under custody of an officer under process issued by a court or judge, when such custody becomes vexatious, capricious, and oppressive amounting to an infringement on the constitutional right to speedy trial of an accused, the writ of habeas corpus may be provisionally availed of."

The right to speedy trial, dear colleagues, is an actionable right. It is a right afforded to all citizens, and a right that Senator Leila may legitimately avail of. This is not about being in the opposition. This is not about the past or present administrations. *This is simply the invocation of a human right that all Filipinos are entitled to.*

Mr. President, the oldest and largest organization of parliaments in the world, the Inter Parliamentary Union, has renewed its call for the release of Senator Leila. Kasama nila ang napakaraming local and international organizations that ask for the same release.

If the Senate as a body can recommend the filing of charges against individuals and personalities that violate the laws of these land, surely it can recommend the dropping of charges against those who are victimized by these laws and those who need the law and the Constitution's protective mantle.

A few days after we commemorated the 6th anniversary of her detention, I say Mr President, dear colleagues, and I hope you say with me --- FREE LEILA NOW.


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