MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine court on Monday ordered the release on bail of a former senator jailed more than six years ago on drug charges she said were fabricated to muzzle her investigation of then-President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs. Two other non-bailable drug cases against her have been dismissed.
The European Union Parliament, some American lawmakers and United Nations human rights experts have long demanded the release of Leila de Lima, who was detained as an opposition senator in February 2017 in what they say was political persecution by Duterte and his allies and a major blow to Philippine democracy.
Duterte, whose stormy six-year term ended in June last year, insisted on her guilt, saying that witnesses testified that she received payoffs from imprisoned drug lords.
Regional Trial Court Judge Gener Gito reversed an earlier decision Monday and granted de Lima’s request for bail while being tried in a final drug case.
Dozens of de Lima’s supporters cheered after the decision was announced by the court in suburban Muntinlupa city in the capital, where armed police escorts brought her from detention in a security convoy.