Opposition senators call for De Lima release after she was cleared by AMLC, PDEA execs

By: Darryl John Esguerra – Reporter / @DJEsguerraINQ

Opposition senators are now calling for the release of detained Senator Leila De Lima after officials from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) testified that she was not involved in any transactions linking her to the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

In a joint statement released Sunday, Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the statements from the AMLC and PDEA officials clearing De Lima are “crucial to the case” and “should be given weight.”

“The fraudulently concocted evidence against Senator Leila de Lima is crumbling. This will pave the way to her eventual exoneration and long-deserved freedom,” the senators said.

De Lima, a staunch critic of President Duterte, has been in detention at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since Feb. 24, 2017, on charges that she was involved in the illegal drug trade.

She has denied the charges, saying they were fabricated in retaliation for her fierce criticism of Duterte’s brutal war on drugs and monitoring of his human rights record since the time she headed the Commission on Human Rights in 2008.

Lawyer Boni Tacardon, De Lima’s legal counsel, earlier revealed that AMLC financial investigator Artemio Baculi Jr. and PDEA digital forensic examiner Krystal Caseñas told the court in a hearing that they did not find any transactions between the senator and the drug lords held at the national penitentiary.

De Lima’s colleagues claimed that the senator’s accusers are now “merely clutching at straws in a desperate attempt to pin her down for a crime she did not commit.”

“She has been unjustly detained for over three years, yet she has shown us only courage, hard work, and efficiency in continuing her work as a legislator,” the senator said.

“Sen. De Lima deserves her freedom now,” they added.

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