Liberal International

Fears for Liberal Senator's safety after arrest warrant issued in Philippines

Liberal International , donderdag 23 februari 2017

I am prepared to be the “first political prisoner of this regime” declared Senator Leila de Lima – a brave and outspoken critic of hard-line president Rodrigo Duterte – ahead of a court order to arrest the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LPP - LI full member) legislator today, Thursday 23 October.

“This arrest is purely political vendetta and has no place in the justice system that upholds the rule of law. This is condemnable”, read a statement from LPP senators on Thursday.

It is believed that Senator De Lima has been deliberately targeted by the Duterte regime owing to her investigations into the Davao Death Squads when she was chief of the Commission on Human Rights; Rodrido Duterte was then the mayor of Davao City.

Since Duterte was elected president, Senator De Lima began investigating the administration’s so-called “war on drugs”, a euphemism to cloak the widespread killings of persons who are suspected to be involved in the drugs trade. Amid the escalation of extra-judicial killings, De Lima called on the International Criminal Court to intervene in the Philippines back in October 2016.

Elevating the rapid decline of basic rights in the Philippines, LI president of honour Hans van Baalen MEP, extended the support of Europe’s Liberal political parties and will raise the issue with the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs. “The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Europe (ALDE Party – LI cooperating organisation) is deeply concerned about the arrest of the liberal senator Leila de Lima in particular and the deteriorating human rights situation in general. The Philippines, under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte is turning rapidly into an illiberal state, where there is no respect for the law whatsoever. I have asked written questions to HRVP Mogherini in order to see what action the EU can take”, said Mr. Van Baalen.

 Chair of Liberal International's Human Rights Committee, Markus Loening, said: "Leila de Lima is a highly respected human rights activist fighting against corruption and for the rule of law when she was the Minister of Justice and now as an elected member of the Senate of the Philippines.”

“The president of the Philippines must respect and defend the laws of his country and human rights. That is his obligation towards his own people. Liberals across the world will stand up for Leila de Lima’s immediate release”, added Mr Loening.

 “We reiterate that an arrest based on trumped-up charges is illegal… We maintain that if this warrant of arrest is served, it would be a clear violation of legal proceedings and is therefore a violation of her Constitutional right to due process”, concluded the LPP statement.

Liberal International

Read also:, 25 Februari 2017
European Liberals to seek EU action vs De Lima arrest, worsening rights situation