Remulla: DOJ won’t oppose liberty for Leila de Lima

Remulla: DOJ won’t oppose liberty for Leila de Lima

MANILA – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday said his office welcomes any move before the courts by the defense counsels representing former senator Leila de Lima for her liberty.

“The case is ongoing. Probably they (De Lima counsels) should petition for habeas corpus and explain the case to the courts (and) we will not object,” Remulla told newsmen.

De Lima, who made an unsuccessful bid for reelection in the Senate in the last elections while behind bars, has been detained since 2017 at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Quezon City.

She is facing criminal charges before the Muntinlupa regional trial court (RTC) for allegedly running a protection racket while she was secretary of justice for detained drug lords who allegedly made contributions for her senatorial bid. A number of key witnesses in the case has since retracted their testimonies.

De Lima claims her detention is part of efforts to persecute her for her criticism of the human rights record of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-crime policies.

The possibility of gaining temporary liberty while the cases remain pending arose anew after the Supreme Court (SC) last January granted a habeas corpus writ for the release of lawyer Jessica Lucila Reyes, a former aide of presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile.

Detained since 2014, Reyes faced charges for her alleged part in supposed irregularities in the legislator’s discretionary funds. Remulla has since said the basis cited by the SC in allowing Reyes’ release may be applicable to De Lima’s travails.

“I am not objecting personally to any plea that will free anybody from jail. Syempre (Of course) this is something better discussed in court. This is a power left to the judges to decide and even to the higher courts if need be if they want to go to the higher courts,” Remulla said.

“We have our remedies available under our legal system. So let it be that way. If they wish to petition for habeas corpus so be it. It is their right after all as a citizen detained to ask the courts why she is detained and for the courts to decide or not a grant of liberty is appropriate under the circumstances,” he added. (PNA) 

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