Press Release
February 21, 2018

Southeast Asian lawmaker cites De Lima's heroism, renews call for her immediate release

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today thanked Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Chairman Charles Santiago for his unwavering support as she nears her first year in illegal detention.

"The support I'm getting from several groups like APHR who continue to vouch for my integrity continues to remind me that I should never stop fighting the good fight. I wish to thank Charles even if I haven't personally met him," De Lima said.

Santiago, along with Malaysian Parliamentarian Tian Chua, came to the country last September 2017 specifically to meet with De Lima but were barred by the Philippine National Police (PNP) from visiting her at her detention cell in the PNP headquarters.

During their short stay in the country, Santiago and Chua expressed concern over the disturbing trend of jailing government critics in Southeast Asia as they called for the immediate release of political prisoners in the region, including De Lima.

In a recent interview, Santiago denounced De Lima's continued unjust detention and called for her "urgent and immediate" freedom.

"I'm here to express [my] solidarity with Senator Leila de Lima on the first anniversary of her unjust and politically-motivated detention... Senator Leila has consistently stood up for human rights and stood firm against abuses by the administration of President Duterte including the brutal war on drugs," Santiago said.

"In behalf of the ASEAN Parliamentarian for Human Rights, in conjunction of her first anniversary in detention, we call upon the government of President Duterte to release her urgently and immediately," he added.

Instead of politically-persecuting De Lima, Santiago said the Duterte government can do better by recognizing De Lima's heroism.

"Instead of celebrating her contribution for human rights, to human rights, the government of the Philippines has put her in jail. This we find unacceptable," he said.

"She should be lauded as a hero, a hero for human rights, not only in the Philippines, but for all of ASEAN," he added.

The APHR is one of the growing number of multilateral organizations and human rights advocates who have expressed serious concern over the illegal arrest and unjust detention of De Lima over trumped-up charges of illegal drug trafficking.

For a copy of the interview, see link below:

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