Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Monday thanked her fellow senators and the members of the committee demanding her freedom for renewing their calls to have her released from detention due to the lack of evidence implicating her in the illegal drug trade.
De Lima, who has been in jail for more than two years over the drug charges against her, expressed her appreciation for the separate statements by the Senate minority bloc and the members of the Committee for the Freedom of Leila M. de Lima demanding her freedom.
“It is clear since day one that the cases against me are bogus, invented and have no integrity altogether. Any charge of me being involved in the drug trade is an act of political persecution by a vindictive man,” De Lima said.
“I sincerely thank my colleagues from the minority bloc and allies and supporters from the Committee for the Freedom of Leila M. de Lima for recognizing these as they renewed their calls for my immediate release.”
In a joint statement on Oct. 25, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan pressed for the immediate release of De Lima after two prosecution witnesses affirmed under oath that she did not conduct any suspicious transactions that would link her to illegal drug trading inside the New Bilibid Prison.
“The fraudulently concocted evidence against Senator Leila de Lima is crumbling. This will pave the way to her eventual exoneration and long-deserved freedom,” part of their statement read. “She deserves her freedom now.”
The minority senators said “the testimonies of the financial investigator of AMLC and the digital forensic examiner of PDEA are crucial to the case and should be given weight as these affirm that Senator De Lima did not conduct suspicious transactions that would link her to illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.”
During the hearing at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court on Oct. 23, prosecution witness and PDEA Digital Forensic Examiner Krystal Caseñas confirmed that, in her examination of extracted text messages from the phones confiscated from alleged drug lords at the NBP, none had ever mentioned De Lima in any drug transaction or deposit made or ordered to be done inside the NBP.
Before Caseñas’ testimony, a financial investigator from AMLC Financial Investigator Artemio Baculi Jr. reaffirmed that his investigation of the people suspected to have been involved in the Bilibid drug trade showed that no money flowed from the bank accounts to either De Lima or to her co-accused.
The members of the Committee for the Freedom of Leila M. de Lima, who released their statement on Oct. 24, said De Lima “should be granted bail immediately, and her cases must be dismissed eventually for obvious lack of evidence.”
In a separate post, former Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, one of the founding members of the committee, said: “So where is the evidence the government is saying that Senator Leila de Lima profited from the illegal drug trade? Both the AMLA and PDEA say there is NONE. Without evidence, the government can’t prove their case ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Senator Leila should be granted bail and should be acquitted!”
In Criminal Cases 165 and 166, which are being heard by one judge as separate cases in Branch 205 of the Muntinlupa City RTC, De Lima filed motions for bail in June and August, respectively, on the ground that there was no evidence-let alone strong evidence-presented by the government.
The motions are expected to be submitted for resolution next month.