Labor coalition seeks speedy trial for Duterte critic
THE LARGEST labor coalition in the Philippines has called on the courts to fast-track the trial of a former senator and critic of ex-President Rorigo R. Duterte for drug trafficking.
In a statement, Nagkaisa said former Senator Leila M. de Lima, who has been in jail since 2017, has a right to a speedy trial.
“It is not special treatment for her if the panel of prosecutors moves for the dismissal of charges or her acquittal when they believe the accused is innocent,” it added. She should also be allowed to post bail, it added.
Filibon F. Tacardon, Ms. De Lima’s lawyer, told reporters on Friday they would file another petition for bail in her drug cases before a Muntinlupa regional trial court.
This move comes after ex-prison chief Rafael Z. Ragos in open court took back his allegations that the former lawmaker had abetted the illegal drug train inside the national jail when she was still justice secretary.
He earlier claimed to have delivered P10 million in drug money to Ms. De Lima’s bodyguard that she allegedly used to finance her senatorial run in 2016.
Four witnesses have taken back their allegations against Ms. De Lima’s involvement in the illegal drug trade. All of them claimed to have been coerced by government into testifying against her.
One of the three drug charges against Ms. De Lima has been dismissed, while two are pending in court.
The former lawmaker, one of Mr. Duterte’s fiercest critics, has asserted her innocence, saying she was being tried for criticizing the government’s deadly drug war.
In 2016, Ms. De Lima led a Senate probe into vigilante-style killings in Davao when Mr. Duterte was still mayor and vice mayor of the city. She was arrested a year later after allegations of her involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Human Rights Watch has said her imprisonment showed the continuation of human rights abuses in the country. It urged the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to drop what it called trumped-up charges against her. — John Victor D. Ordoñez