U.S. government, senators hail release of Leila de Lima

Six years, 8 months, 21 days. Screen shot from video of Josef Leroi Garcia/Office of Senator Leila de Lima

The United States welcomes former Philippine Senator Leila de Lima’s release on bail after nearly seven years of detention on politically motivated drug charges, the State Department said on November 13 through spokesperson Matthew Miller.

“Senator De Lima’s release follows her acquittal in two out of three cases. The United States urges the Philippines to resolve the remaining case against her in a manner that is consistent with its international human rights obligations and commitments,” says the statement issued through the department website.

Two legislators, Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.),  also released the following statement:

“After nearly seven years of unjust detention for defending human rights, former Philippine Senator Leila de Lima is finally free on bail. We welcome this long overdue decision and call on any remaining bogus charges to be dropped once and for all. Her eloquent words upon release about defending democracy and truth and not succumbing to hate amid repression are an inspiration to all of us. We look forward to hosting her soon for a visit to the United States Senate.”

For nearly seven years, de Lima has been held by the government of the Philippines on dubious charges, even after multiple government witnesses recanted.  Since her arrest, Senators Markey and Durbin have repeatedly called for her release and for the false charges against her to be dropped.

Senators Markey and Durbin, along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), also introduced a bipartisan resolution that raised human rights concerns in the Philippines, and specifically noted the cases of Senator de Lima and Maria Ressa, a journalist for the news outlet Rappler that has been the target of government harassment. 

U.S. Ambassador to Manila MaryKay Carlson writes on X, formerly Twitter:  “Welcome news to see Atty. Leila de Lima approved for release at long last. We continue to follow de Lima’s case closely and looked forward to seeing the remaining charges against her resolved in accordance with Philippine law.”

Leave a Reply