Leila de Lima acquitted in second drug case

A Muntinlupa court on May 12, 2023 acquitted former Senator Leila de Lima of the charge of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading. This is the second drug case that de Lima has been acquitted of, with the first acquittal coming in February 2021.

De Lima was arrested in February 2017 on charges of drug trafficking and detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters. The charges were widely seen as politically motivated, as they were filed shortly after de Lima began investigating the extrajudicial killings of thousands of people during the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs.”

In its ruling, the court said that the prosecution’s case was “bereft of merit” and that the witnesses’ testimony was “unreliable.” The court also noted that several witnesses had recanted their testimony, admitting that they had been coerced by the police to testify against de Lima.

De Lima’s acquittal is a major victory for human rights in the Philippines. It is a repudiation of the Duterte administration’s use of the justice system to silence its critics. It is also a reminder that the rule of law still exists in the Philippines, even under a government that has shown a disregard for human rights.

De Lima has been detained for over six years without a conviction. She has lost her job, her freedom, and her family. She has also been subjected to physical and psychological abuse. Her acquittal is a small step towards justice for her, but it is a step in the right direction.

The Duterte administration should now release de Lima immediately. It should also drop the remaining charges against her and investigate the role of the police in her persecution. The Philippines needs to move on from the Duterte era and restore the rule of law.

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