European politicians meddle in De Lima drug cases
EUROPEAN politicians expressed concern at the criminal cases filed against Senator Leila de Lima and urged the European Union to take action against the Philippines “where there is no respect for the law whatsoever.”
Dutch politician Hans van Baalen, a member of the European parliament, said he has written High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini urging the EU to take action.
“The Philippines, under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, is turning rapidly into an illiberal state, where there is no respect for the law whatsoever,” said Baalen, a former president of Liberal International, in a statement released by Liberal Party president Senator Francis Pangilinan on Saturday.
Another Liberal International official, German politician Markus Loning, demanded De Lima’s immediate release although she was ordered detained by local courts pending the resolution of charges that she abetted narcotics trafficking while she was justice minister.
“Leila de Lima is a highly respected human rights activist fighting against corruption and for the rule of law when she was the minister of Justice and now as an elected member of the Senate of the Philippines,” Loning said in the same statement.
“The president of the Philippines must respect and defend the laws of his country and human rights. That is his obligation towards his own people,” he said. “Liberals across the world will stand up for Leila de Lima’s immediate release,” he added.
The two politicians made the remarks as EU Ambassador Franz Jessen and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines prepared for the Asean-EU Business Summit which will be held in Manila on March 10.
Austrian Florian Gottein, the ECCP executive director, said that while the EU remains bullish on increasing two-way trade with the Philippines, political controversies raises questions among European businessmen.
“As harsh as it sounds now, the Philippines is in the European headlines almost on a weekly basis. I don’t want to say that we appreciate those headlines but it basically brings in a lot of questions,” Gottein told reporters during the launching of the Asean-EU Business Summit.
Jessen, for his part, said a high-level delegation from the EU will be attending the summit for the first time since the start of the Duterte administration.
“This summit takes on added significance as a platform for the exchange of ideas on how to further deepen and extend the trading and investment relationship between these two complementary regions,” said EU-Asean Business Council Executive Director Chris Humphrey.