Philippines: Drop Political Charges against Duterte Critic

(New York) – Philippine authorities should immediately drop politically motivated charges against one of the few lawmakers openly critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs,” which has left more than 7,000 people dead, Human Rights Watch said today. Senator Leila de Lima, a former secretary of justice, is expected to be arrested and taken into custody within days.

EXPAND Philippine Senator Leila de Lima gestures during a news conference at the Senate headquarters in Pasay city, metro Manila, Philippines September 22, 2016.
© Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Philippine Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II announced on February 17, 2017 that charges had been filed against de Lima, her driver and several unnamed individuals for alleged violations of section 5 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which prohibits the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of illegal drugs.” If convicted, de Lima faces between 12 years to life in prison. Under the Philippines Constitution, legislators only enjoy privilege from arrest for crimes punishable by fewer than 6 years’ imprisonment.