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De Lima camp seeks temporary freedom on her 6th year in detention

The camp of former Senator Leila de Lima on Monday expressed hope for the speedy resolution of a bail plea they filed in seeking her temporary freedom six years after her detention.

"Kahit sinuman siguro nakakulong ng six years, inaasahan nya na pagkatapos ng mahabang paglilitis, mabibigyan ng attention ang application for bail. Hopefully, ‘yun ay makita ng hukuman na dapat mabigyan ng pansamantalang laya si Sen. Leila de Lima at least sa kasong ito," said Atty. Boni Tacardon, de Lima's legal counsel on Monday.

(Whoever has been jailed for six years is hoping for a speedy resolution on their application for bail. Hopefully, the court will agree that Sen. De Lima should be granted bail, at least in this case.)

Tacardon added that they have terminated witness Herbert Colanggo’s testimony and are now awaiting the prosecution to present their last witness, Jojo Baligad, before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.

De Lima and Colanggo personally appeared in the court for the continuation of the hearings for the ex-legislator’s two remaining drug charges.

"Inaantay namin matapos prosecution sa mga testigo para mabigyan ng hukuman ng karampatang panahon na desisyunan o resolbahin na ang application for bail," Tacardon added. 

(We are waiting for the prosecution to finish its presentation of witnesses so we can give the court enough time to decide or resolve our bail plea.)

On February 24, the former legislator marked her sixth year in jail after she was detained in 2017 for allegedly abetting the drug trade inside the National Bilibid Prison. She has since denied the accusations. 

On the same day, her camp filed a fresh release request at Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 seeking the dismissal of a drug case against her as well as her immediate release after former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos retracted his testimony against her in May 2022. 

"Sa aming pag-uusap ni Sen. Leila, talagang inaasam-asam na niya na matapos na itong hearing ng petition for bail dahil dito lang natin malalaman kung siya’y pwedeng makalaya kahit pansamantala man lang," Tacardon said. 

The next hearing for de Lima’s case is set on March 17, according to the lawyer. 


Meanwhile, de Lima’s supporters led by former Senator Kiko Pangilinan trooped in front of the Muntinlupa court to rally for her immediate release. 

"Pinapakita nito [na] may problema talagang matindi ang sistema ng katarungan sa ating bansa. ‘Yan ay ika nga ay ‘exhibit A’. Saan ka nakakita, lahat ng mga tumestigo ay isa-isang nagbabaligtaran at binabawi ang kanilang mga paratang, at after six years nariyan pa siya?"Pangilinan said in an interview, according to a tweet from dzBB Super Radyo’s Sam Nielsen. 

(It shows that we really have a problem in our judiciary system. That's "exhibit A". Where else can you see witnesses recanting their statements one by one, yet the accused is still in jail.)

"It's an indictment of our system of justice. And while she is in prison this indictment continues and the mockery of justice continues. That's why we are here to stand up and vigorously oppose this injustice upon Senator de Lima," Pangilinan added. 

Senator Risa Hontiveros also called for de Lima’s release from prison in a privilege speech during Monday’s plenary session. 

"If the Senate as a body can recommend the filing of charges against individuals and personalities that violate the laws of these lands, surely it can recommend the dropping of charges against those who are victimized by these laws and those who need the law and the Constitution’s protective mantle," said Hontiveros.

"A few days after we commemorated the 6th anniversary of her detention, I say Mr. President, dear colleagues, and I hope you say with me  Free Leila Now," —she added.  —VAL, GMA Integrated News