BEFORE adjourning in St. Petersburg on Oct. 18, the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s General Assembly adopted the Human Rights Committee’s report and recommendation for IPU to send a trial observer to monitor the case of detained Senator Leila de Lima.
The meeting was attended by Philippine senators led by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
In its 16-page report on July 27, the IPU had also expressed concern over the alleged trumped-up charges against De Lima, which it said were based on dubious evidence and relied heavily on the testimonies of convicted drug inmates.
“In each of the three cases, there are serious questions and doubts about the evidence,” the report says.
“There are general concerns about the over-reliance on THE testimonies by convicted drug lords, not only because they are proven criminals but because these individuals have an ax to grind against Senator De Lima.”
The report also called on Pimentel to take up the cudgels for De Lima to ensure her rights were not violated as she faced trumped-up charges.
“The Senate has a special responsibility to help ensure that concerns about due process regarding one of its members are effectively addressed,” the report says.
“The delegation therefore calls on the Senate, through its President, to do everything possible in this regard and thus help ensure that Senator De Lima can participate again in its work as soon as possible.”
De Lima has been detaned at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame since kast year over drug-related charges. She is accused of receiving drug money from convicted drug lords detained at the New Bilbid Prison to bankroll her senatorial campaign for the May 2016 elections.
The IPU tasked representatives to monitor De Lima’s legal proceedings as it reiterated its call for her release from detention.
De Lima on Thursday welcomed the IPU’s decision to send its representatives.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte administration, said she was grateful for the IPU’s resolve to get a clearer and unbiased view of the trumped-up cases of illegal drug trade filed against her.
Despite the Duterte administration’s efforts to intimidate and silence her through her continued unjust detention, De Lima said, she was grateful that the Inter-Parliamentary Union had vowed to fight for her right to a fair trial.
“I thank the IPU for defending my causes and vouching for my integrity,” De Lima said.
“I know that my fight is not my fight alone as this is the fight for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. I will never be cowed until this government decides to value democratic principles and respect for human rights.”