UK Parliamentarians join call for De Lima’s release

Published March 7, 2021, 6:20 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Twenty-seven (27) members of the UK Parliament have added their voice to the growing list of international groups, leaders and personalities who are concerned over opposition Senator Leila de Lima’s continuing detention.

Senator Leila De Lima

The 27 members of the UK Parliament have written a letter to Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio Lagdameo and reiterated their call for the release of the opposition senator who marked her fourth year in detention last February 24.

The signatories in the letter include Rt Hon Dame Diana Johnson, MP (Chair, All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group), Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Harriett Baldwin MP, Paul Blomfield MP, Tracy Brabin MP, Lyn Brown MP, Dawn Butler MP, to name a few.

“As Senator De Lima enters the fifth year of her incarceration, we add to calls made by many others for her immediate release and an end to the continuing erosion of democratic freedoms in the Philippines,” they said in the letter.

According to the UK lawmakers, they view De Lima’s incarceration as a way for the Duterte administration to show the extent of action they are willing to do to anyone who dares to oppose their policies.

“On February 24, 2017, shortly after initiating a Senate investigation into extra-judicial killings in the Philippines, Senator Leila de Lima was suddenly arrested and jailed on unbailable charges for supposed links to drugs gangs. Four years later she is still being held in Camp Crame detention centre,” they said.

“Senator De Lima’s prosecution appears to have set the pattern for silencing of President Duterte’s opponents, in which either trumped up criminal charges or false accusations of involvement in terrorism are brought against them,” they also stated.

At the same time, the UK Parliamentarians also condemned the human rights abuses happening under the Duterte regime, including extrajudicial killings.

“President Duterte’s self-styled ‘war-on-drugs’ has seen an estimated 30,000 extra-judicial killings – along with increased targeting of journalists and human rights defenders, and the undermining of judicial independence,” they stressed.