Philippine Court Acquits Prominent Critic of Duterte’s “War on Drugs” in Landmark Case


Former senator Leila de Lima, one of the strongest critics of ex-President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial “war on drugs” in the Philippines, has been acquitted by a Philippine court on a drugs charge. The ruling has been hailed by activists who viewed her imprisonment as a retaliatory attempt to silence her. De Lima, who spent the last six years in detention, five of which were served as a senator, still has one more case pending. The charges against her were filed in 2017, shortly after she initiated a senate investigation into Duterte’s aggressive anti-drug campaign, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of individuals involved in drug-related activities.

De Lima faced allegations from Duterte that she accepted payments from drug syndicates while serving as justice minister in a previous administration. The former senator consistently maintained her innocence and expressed confidence in her acquittal. In a statement, De Lima declared, “I had no doubt from the very beginning that I will be acquitted in all the cases the Duterte regime has fabricated against me based on the merits and strength of my innocence. “Throughout her detention, De Lima faced public humiliation by Duterte, who made salacious revelations about her personal life and accused her of collusion with drug gangs in prison. This led to threats and online harassment campaigns against her. Despite these challenges, De Lima’s supporters remained steadfast, with chants of “Free De Lima now” filling the air as she emerged from the courtroom after the acquittal.

President Duterte has reportedly accepted the court’s decision, with his former legal counsel stating that Duterte has always respected the independence of the judiciary. The current Justice Secretary praised the ruling as a demonstration of the judiciary’s independence and the functioning of democracy. Human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have voiced their support for De Lima and called for the remaining charge against her to be dropped. They argue that her case highlights the arbitrary detention and denial of her rights, emphasizing that she should never have spent a day in jail. The acquittal of De Lima has been regarded as a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle for human rights and the rule of law in the Philippines.


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