The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the dismissal of the bribery charges by the Office of the Ombudsman against its former chairperson, detained former Sen. Leila De Lima, and expressed hope that the officials behind the “coercion and intimidation” of witnesses will also be investigated and held into account if found liable.
De Lima was CHR’s chairperson from 2008 until former President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed her as Secretary of the Department of Justice in 2010.
“CHR echoes their [Office of the Ombudsman] assertion that the innocent must be secured from oppressive prosecution as well as anxieties of public trial, especially when evidence is uncorroborated,” CHR’s Executive Director, Atty. Jacqueline de Guia, said.
“It is through these preconditions – the conduct of due process and the respect for the rule of law – that we protect democracy and promote good governance,” she added.
On July 22, the Ombudsman junked the bribery charge against de Lima and her former aide, Ronnie Dayan, after its Special Investigation team found inconsistencies in the testimonies of the complainants, and found no probable cause against them.
The resolution, approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires, said that these inconsistencies “would prevent a reasonable mind from concluding that the respondents are probably guilty of the offenses charged against them.”
Meanwhile, United States Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) tweeted his support for the former senator’s immediate release.
“As the case against her embarrassingly collapses even further, I once again urge the new Marcos regime to bring an end to former Senator de Lima’s cruel detention,” the Senate Majority Whip said.
Different human rights organizations and lawmakers have been calling for the release of de Lima since the recantation of several key witnesses on her cases.
“We urge the continued exercise of impartiality, prudence, and propriety in the deliverance of justice,” de Guia said. “Let the principles of truth and objectivity, at all times, be central in our legal responsibilities.”
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.
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