‘Finally released’: BBC News reporter congratulates De Lima after release

November 16, 2023 - 4:53 PM
Supporters of former Philippines senator Leila de Lima celebrate, after she was granted bail following over six years in detention, at Muntinlupa, Philippines, November 13, 2023. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

A BBC News reporter who has covered Leila De Lima‘s arrest congratulated the former senator for her release from detention after nearly seven years.

Howard Johnson, BBC News correspondent, brought up an old video where BBC News had to “shout” a question to De Lima during her arrest back in 2017.

The video showed the former senator surrounded by a group of police officers as they led her to her detention cell at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters.

The reporter asked her in a loud voice as she and the cops went down the stairs, “Are you innocent?”

In response, De Lima quickly replied with: “I am innocent. The world knows I am innocent. I am being persecuted.”

Following her much-anticipated release, Johnson tagged De Lima and congratulated her.

“Congratulations @AttyLeiladeLima, finally released (on bail). BBC News won’t have to shout the questions at you next time!” the reporter said.

In 2018, BBC News released a documentary about former President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines, which has killed thousands of Filipinos in poor communities.

Titled “Philippines: Democracy in Danger?” the documentary was based on Johnson’s coverage, featuring the cases of Duterte’s staunch critics—De Lima, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

READ: Philippines decries ‘anti-Duterte’ BBC documentary 

“Howard Johnson reports on democracy in the Philippines, where President Duterte is prosecuting a violent ‘war on drugs’ and allegedly cracking down on democratic institutions,” the description of the video on the BBC website reads.

De Lima, meanwhile, earned the ire of Duterte because of her staunch investigations over the reported extrajudicial killings made under his “war on drugs,” his administration’s flagship campaign.

Last Monday, Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 Presiding Judge Gener Gito granted her temporary bail in the third and last drug case against her.

De Lima and her co-accused former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, former aides Ronnie Dayan and Joenel Sanchez and alleged bagman Jad Dera were ordered to pay 300,000 each.

RELATED: Grace Poe’s post on De Lima’s freedom gets a ‘Community Note’ tag on X

After she was released, several personalities and other Filipinos took to social media to call for the veteran lawyer’s acquittal from this case.

RELATED: ‘#FreeLeilaDeLimaNow’: Hopes for De Lima’s freedom spring anew as court acquits her in 2nd drug case |‘Free Leila Now’: Calls for release of De Lima mount online amid Espinosa’s retraction