As Espinosa recants allegations, Karapatan asserts call to free Senator De Lima

Photo by Noel Celis/Getty Images

The call to free Senator Leila De Lima has never been more urgent. Kerwin Espinosa’s recantation of his allegations against Senator De Lima only further proves that, like hundreds of other political prisoners in the Philippines, her unjust incarceration is based on lies.

One of the three trumped-up charges against Senator De Lima has already been dismissed for lack of evidence — and although Espinosa is neither a respondent nor witness in these cases, his recantation now puts into question the credibility of the witnesses and their so-called testimonies in the remaining cases against her, especially after he bared that he was “coerced, pressured, intimidated and seriously threatened by the police” to fabricate his testimony.

Nevertheless, what has always been clear is this: Senator De Lima’s imprisonment for the past five years is a case of political persecution and repression. The charges and public vilification against her are reprisals for her persistent efforts to investigate the Duterte administration’s sham and bloody drug war which has murdered thousands of lives with brazen violence and impunity.

Like Senator De Lima, hundreds of activists and human rights defenders are behind bars facing trumped-up charges stemming from perjured testimonies from so-called witnesses and planted evidence — all for their work in exposing human rights violations and defending people’s rights against a murderous and brutal regime.

As we assert the call to free Senator De Lima and all political prisoners, we also enjoin all freedom-loving Filipinos to vote for her and to support her bid to be reelected in the Senate in the upcoming elections. Together with various human rights groups and advocates, we at Karapatan stand with Senator De Lima in the fight for justice, and to hold the Duterte administration accountable for its crimes against the Filipino people.

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General