The head of the Catholic bishops’ leadership has welcomed the acquittal from drug charge of former senator Leila de Lima, who has been detained for the past six years.
The court on May 12 dismissed one of two remaining criminal charges against de Lima, who was arrested months after launching an investigation into the then-Duterte administration’s brutal drug war.
The former president humiliated de Lima in public speeches and accused her of receiving payoffs from convicted drug lords.
The decision marks the second acquittal out of the three cases filed against de Lima, who has been detained since February 2017.
“Praise the Lord for this news,” Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the bishops’ conference, said in a short social media post.
Caritas Philippines, meanwhile, urged the local court to issue a speedy resolution on the last drug charge against de Lima.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of the national Caritas, said the court ruling “brings us closer to the realization of justice and emphasizes the importance of upholding the rule of law”.
“Her acquittal, in this case, reaffirms our belief in the merits of her defense, and serves as a testament to the flaws and inconsistencies in the charges fabricated against her,” Bagaforo said.
“We call on the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 256 to expedite its decision and grant Senator de Lima the opportunity to regain her freedom,” he said.
The bishop added that de Lima’s release from detention “is not only a significant step towards justice, but also a symbol of our collective commitment to safeguarding human rights and ensuring the rule of law”.