Urgent Action Update: OMBUDSMAN DISMISSES BRIBERY CHARGES VS LEILA (Philippines: UA 48.22)

August 18, 2022

On August 9, 2022, the Philippines’ Office of the Ombudsman rejected the bribery complaints against prisoner of conscience and former Senator Leila de Lima, citing inconsistencies in witnesses’ testimonies. This dismissal – which comes months after several witnesses retracted their allegations against Leila in relation to her drug-related charges – adds to growing proof of concerted efforts to persecute her and fabricate evidence against her. We call on the government to urgently and impartially review her remaining charges, with a view to dropping these and ensuring her immediate release.

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TAKE ACTION:

  1. Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on September 2, 2022.
  2. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  3. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 48.22. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla
Department of Justice
Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila 10020
Republic of the Philippines
Email: [email protected] ; [email protected]

Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez
Embassy of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202 467 9300 I Fax: 202 328 7614
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PhilippinesUSA
Facebook: @PHinUSA

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Secretary Remulla,

Following the August 9, 2022, dismissal of the bribery complaints against prisoner of conscience and former senator Leila de Lima by the Office of the Ombudsman, I write to urge your office to impartially and expeditiously review the two remaining charges against her, with a view to dropping these and ensuring her immediate and unconditional release. With the earlier retractions by several witnesses of their allegations against her, this dismissal further strengthens the view that the charges she continues to face are false and politically motivated. I call on you to finally put an end to this gross injustice against Leila.

I welcomed your statement in May 2022 that you were willing to review the drug-related charges against Leila, and that it is “possible” to drop these charges after several witnesses recanted their testimonies. Following these retractions, the Ombudsman has now highlighted inconsistencies in witnesses’ testimonies alleging that she received money from a self-confessed drug trader in exchange for protection. While this dismissal of the bribery charges against her is a positive sign, it is also further proof of concerted efforts to fabricate evidence against Leila and persecute her.

The continued detention of Leila clearly violates her right to presumption of innocence and other fair trial guarantees. For over five years, she has been a victim of vicious attacks and political persecution for her human rights work. She should not have been detained in the first place, but her immediate release is the least that the Philippine government could do to correct this grave injustice and demonstrate that it is serious about restoring respect for human rights under the new administration.

I therefore call on your office to:

  1. Drop all charges against Leila now and ensure her immediate and unconditional release;
  2. Conduct thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into those responsible for her arbitrary detention and ensure full accountability for the years of human rights violations she has had to endure; and
  3. Promptly and thoroughly investigate allegations by witnesses that they were coerced by senior officials to commit perjury, while ensuring their safety and security in light of the gravity of such allegations and the possible involvement of high-level officials.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

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