Duterte critic “thanks” Marcos administration for respecting court’s independence
By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez
“Freedom!” was what former senator Leila de Lima said moments after hearing that the court had granted her bail.
A jubilant De Lima, while exiting the hall of justice, also mentioned President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration, thanking the President for “respecting” the court’s independence.
“Gusto ko pong pasalamatan ang BBM (Bongbong Marcos) administration for respecting the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. Sa inyo pong lahat na naniwala po sa akin, maraming, maraming salamat po. Hindi ‘nyo ako pinabayaan, ‘pinaglaban ‘nyo po ako dahil ipinaglalaban ko kayo palagi,” De Lima said in a Rappler report.
(I would like to thank the BBM administration for respecting the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. For all who believed in me, thank you so much. You did not let me down, you fought for me because I always fought for you.)
Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 206 Presiding Judge Gener Gito granted De Lima bail. The judge said in his decision that De Lima and her co-accused should be allowed to post bail “as the prosecution was not able to discharge its burden of establishing that the guilt of the said accused is strong.”
They were asked to post bail amounting to P300,000 each. While the decision was read, live videos showed De Lima breaking down in tears inside the court room before she stood up to hug the members of her legal team.
“I never lost faith. We have always been confident about the merits of my case. Matagal na kaming nag-file ng motion for reconsideration. It’s just unfortunate that the previous handling judge denied it…It is a legal vindication because we were always confident. Although I cannot further make any comment about that. Hindi pa po tapas ang kaso. This is bail. This is provisional liberty and this is definitely a great gift from the Almighty God,” De Lima said in a press conference.
Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, for his part, said De Lima’s granting of bail shows the judiciary’s “independence.”
“It just shows the independence of the judiciary, [which] what I’ve always been saying from the beginning and that they are free to decide as they please, as they deem fit. And it just shows that democracy is alive and well in our country,” Remulla said.
The three drug charges filed against De Lima were lodged during the time of former president Rodrigo Duterte. A staunch critic of Duterte and his drug war, De Lima was accused of allegedly enabling the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary supposedly to fund her 2016 senatorial campaign, Rappler’s report also read.
When asked yesterday for her message for Duterte: “God forgive him and God bless him.” She confirmed that she and her lawyers are discussing legal actions against Duterte.
De Lima confirmed that they filed the Motion for Reconsideration in June and expected a ruling as early as September.
Former vice president Leni Robredo, De Lima’s ally, said De Lima’s latest legal victory proved that the allegations against the former senator are baseless. Robredo added that the harassment against De Lima was the fruit of her fight for the truth.
“Through all these years, Sen. Leila has been a source of inspiration for us. Her courage and her faith lent so many of us the resolve to continue fighting the good fight, to speak truth to power, and to keep believing that the Filipino people deserve so much more,” Robredo said in her X account.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, in a statement, expressed her joy over De Lima’s impending release, but noted that the years lost in prison can no longer be retrieved.
“Her release from prison through bail is the beginning of the end to this shameful episode in our democracy. I thank all the lawyers, advocates and ordinary Filipinos who have lent their voices and support to #FreeLeila, everyone who did not stand idly by – you all remind this country of the very essence of democracy,” Hontiveros said. “Now and always, justice will prevail.”
Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, meanwhile, said he hopes that De Lima would be freed entirely, and those behind her persecution would be punished. –
The Embassy of Canada in the Philippines also said it “welcomed the decision to grant bail for” de Lima, ending six years of pre-trial incarceration.
“We will continue to follow her situation closely, with the expectation of rapid resolution of proceedings in the case against her. Canada expects her case will be concluded in full conformity with the laws of the Philippines, and in line with the Philippines’ international human rights obligations,” it said in its Facebook account.