Detained Senator De Lima again exonerated

Alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa withdrew his accusations against Senator Leila de Lima in a sworn affidavit. De Lima has already been imprisoned for more than five years on allegedly trumped-up and politically motivated charges. ‘Any statement he made against the Senator are false and was the result only of pressure, coercion, intimidation and serious threats to his life and family members from the police who instructed him to implicate the Senator into the alleged drug trade‘, states the April 28, 2022, affidavit. Whether Espinosa’s revocation will have a legal impact on the ongoing cases against de Lima or not has yet to be clarified – as Espinosa was neither a respondent nor a witness. However, de Lima and her lawyer Filibon Tacardon are hopeful that other witnesses who have also been intimidated, threatened, or bribed will speak up.

Calls for de Lima’s release are growing louder. Duterte critic de Lima was already acquitted in February 2021 of one of three cases against her. According to vice presidential candidate Walden Bello, de Lima is ‘a long-suffering victim of a frame-up based on nothing else but the president’s vindictiveness’.

On April 8, 2022, Isabelo Adviento, a member of the party list Anakpawis which advocates peasants and workers as part of the opposition, was arrested in Bayombong. However, the peasant group Taripnong Cagayan Valley says the allegations against Adviento were trumped up and the arrest warrant is based on evidence planted during a house search in December 2020.

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