Philippines: Court Acquits Leila De Lima in Drug Case

    Philippines: Court Acquits Leila De Lima in Drug Case
    Last updated May 12, 2023
    Image credit: AFP [via Al Jazeera]


    • A Philippine court on Friday dismissed one of the two remaining criminal charges against former Sen. Leila de Lima, a prominent critic of ex-President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.[1]
    • De Lima and co-accused Ronnie Dayan were acquitted of conspiring to commit illegal drug trading at the New Bilibid Prison in 2012 during her time as justice secretary "on the ground of reasonable doubt."[2]
    • This comes as key witnesses, including the self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and the former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections, Rafael Ragos, recently retracted their testimony, which they claim was false and allegedly made under coercion.[3]
    • De Lima, who has been detained since February 2017, will remain in jail as her trial in the other criminal case continues. Though she has applied for bail, she faces life in prison if convicted of the final remaining charge.[4]
    • She has now won two of the three drug cases filed against her during the Duterte administration. In 2021, De Lima was acquitted as the evidence submitted by the prosecutors was reportedly insufficient for a criminal conviction.[5]
    • Meanwhile, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last week acknowledged that thousands were killed and abused during Duterte's deadly drug war, which the International Criminal Court is investigating.[6]


    Narrative A

    The unjust imprisonment and continued detention of Leila de Lima has been undermining the credibility of the Philippine judicial system, as she should have long been acquitted of all charges given that the prosecution has based them solely on the testimonies of criminals. It is outrageous that the country's judiciary is still analyzing bogus cases brought by the former Duterte regime against its opponents.

    Narrative B

    As ironical as it may seem, Leila de Lima — detained on non-bailable charges of involvement in illicit drug trading — once argued that former Pres. Gloria Arroyo's continued detention was part of the independent judicial process in the Philippines and did not violate her human rights. Now that she is behind bars, her supporters at home and abroad are insulting the judiciary.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that at least 60 countries will, at least in some form, decriminalize possession of all Schedule I drugs for personal use by 2070, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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