Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima thanked US Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin for reiterating his call for her immediate release and for definitive US response over her continued unjust detention.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, also expressed her gratefulness to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power for committing to follow up on the developments on the Senator’s cases.
“I cannot thank Senator Durbin enough for his steadfast support and solidarity with me through the years. His persistent effort urging the US government to act with solidarity over the plight of persecuted political prisoners, myself included, means a lot for us who are suffering from injustice for standing up for our principles,” she said.
“My most profound thanks also to USAID Administrator Power for expressing concern on my plight, and for committing that she will follow up on any developments on the trumped-up and politically-motivated cases against me,” she added.
In the recent US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing on the budget request of USAID for 2023, Durbin asked Administrator Power if she is familiar with the unjust detention of De Lima.
Power answered in the affirmative, and even recalled writing a piece on De Lima when the latter was listed in TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2017.
“She’s been imprisoned five years, Duterte’s vengeance against her politically, now a new regime is on the way, is there anything more we can be doing to help her?” Durbin asked Power.
Responding to Durbin, Power said that “a new government is a very good occasion to make a diplomatic push and the ones that are the most effective are executive and legislative branches together operating in unison” and that she will follow up on any developments on the Senator’s case.
De Lima said the support she receives from world leaders and international organizations remind her that her vindication is already within arm’s reach.
“With the recent recantation of several witnesses who testified against me and the unwavering support I receive from the local and international communities vouching for my innocence, I am further reminded that my freedom and vindication is coming soon, especially as I am on the side of truth,” she said.
“As the whole world continues to watch, and with more and more people gaining discernment about the Duterte regime’s harassment and political persecution against critics and human rights defenders, the truth is coming out and justice will soon prevail,” she added.
Recall that in 2020, Durbin, along with U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Chris Coons (D-DE), led the successful passage of a resolution calling for the release of Senator De Lima, a call reiterated in a recent joint statement around the recent recanting of testimony against De Lima.