Reunion of Leni Robredo and Leila de Lima
LENI ROBREDO and LEILA DE LIMA – The former vice president and the former senator reunited in their hometown of Camarines Sur on Thursday, a few days after De Lima’s release from almost seven years of imprisonment. In Naga City, Robredo and De Lima were spotted arm in arm, both wearing smiles.
The day before, De Lima had returned to her family in Iriga, her hometown, reuniting with her elderly mother. On Thursday morning, she paid a visit to her father’s grave and an orphanage where her aunt serves as an administrator.
Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of former president Rodrigo Duterte and his controversial anti-drug campaign, had been detained in February 2017 on drug-related charges that she claims were fabricated to silence her. On Monday, she was granted bail, a development that Robredo hailed as a “triumph” for both De Lima and the entire nation.
Robredo emphasized, “Pinatutunayang muli ngayon na walang basehan ang mga paratang laban kay Senator Leila. Ang lahat ng mga paninira at panggigipit na naranasan niya sa loob ng halos pitong taon ay bunga ng kaniyang pangangahas na tumindig para sa tama—para sa ating mga kababayan.”
“Through all these years, Sen. Leila has been a source of inspiration for us. Her courage and her faith lent so many of us the resolve to continue fighting the good fight, to speak truth to power, and to keep believing that the Filipino people deserve so much more,” Robredo added.
The 64-year-old former senator is accused of receiving money from inmates in the Philippines’ largest prison to facilitate drug sales during her tenure as justice minister from 2010 to 2015. However, with witnesses, including leaders of prison gangs, either dying or retracting their statements, two of the three charges against De Lima have been dropped. Despite this, she still faces potential life imprisonment if convicted on the remaining charge.
Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s former chief legal counsel, insisted on the existence of “strong evidence” supporting De Lima’s guilt. He asserted that the government could challenge the lower court’s bail decision by appealing to higher courts.