De Lima on Duterte: May God forgive him

November 13, 2023 | 8:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — After all the tirades and attacks of former President Rodrigo Duterte against former senator Leila De Lima, she wished him “God bless” upon her release.

De Lima was released on Monday evening, hours after the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 granted the motions for reconsideration on the denial of the petition for bail last June 7.

“May God forgive him, and God bless him,” De Lima said in a press conference in Quezon City.

“He knows what he did to me,” she added. 

De Lima has been a vocal critic of Duterte’s war on drugs which saw thousands of deaths according to the Human Rights Watch. 

During her term as a justice secretary, De Lima also launched probes into the alleged “Davao Death Squad” that supposedly carried out extrajudicial killings in Davao City when the former president was still the city’s mayor.

In 2016, then president Duterte accused De Lima of being involved in the illegal drug trade inside the New Billibid Prison under her watch as justice secretary. The accusations led to the launch of hearings in Congress, with witnesses claiming De Lima is involved in drug trafficking.

In February the following year, De Lima was arrested for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. This also came months after she launched a probe into Duterte’s drug war.

“My prosecution was his project, so how can I be set free during his term?” De Lima said on Monday.

‘I want the people to know the truth’

De Lima considers her release a “vindication.”

“This is vindication…and I will further work for complete vindication because hindi pa tapos ang kaso na ito (this case is not yet finished),” De Lima said during the press conference.

“I want the people to know about the truth about my innocence, I want the people to know how it happened, I want the people to know who are behind it,” she added. 

During her detention, De Lima faced three drug cases. In two of these three cases, she received favorable rulings and was acquitted.

Last month, two witnesses in the former senator’s last case withdrew their testimonies against her citing that they were “bothered by good conscience.”

According to De Lima, she has been always confident of the merits of her case. 

“I never lost faith, I’ve always been confident about the merits of my case,” De Lima said without discussing the specific merits of the case.

When asked about the next legal steps, De Lima said it would still be planned by her and her legal team. 

“Pinag-uusapan namin iyan (We’ll be discussing that),” she said.


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