(Eagle News) — Irked senators on Friday lashed out at the European Parliament, with one saying the body exhibited a “display of arrogance, of power” when it called for the release of Senator Leila de Lima who is detained in connection with several drug cases filed against her, and another saying it should “mind (its) own business” in the first place.
“Its action in demanding the release of (Senator) De Lima is a clear display of arrogance, of power, and a pure interference in our domestic affairs,” Senator Tito Sotto said, as he called on the Philippine embassy in the EU capital to file a “note verbale of protest” that will also “explain in full the case” of his detained colleague.
Sotto issued his strong statement a day after the EP of the European Union adopted a joint resolution favorable to De Lima, whom it called “a human rights advocate and the highest-profile critic” of President Rodrigo Duterte’s antidrug campaign.
“Whereas, there are serious concerns that the offenses Senator De Lima has been charged with are almost entirely fabricated; whereas Amnesty International regards Senator De Lima as a prisoner of conscience…(We call for) the immediate release of Senator..De Lima and for her to be provided with adequate security whilst in detention,” the resolution said, also noting her ouster as chair of the justice committee of the Senate.
It even went on to say that Philippine authorities should “drop all politically motivated charges against (De Lima) and..end any further acts of harassment against her.”
It also condemned what it said was a “high number of extrajudicial killings by the armed forces and vigilante groups related to the antidrug campaign,” and called on the Philippine government to “adopt all necessary measures to prevent further killings.”
“(We call) on the authorities to immediately halt ongoing proceedings to reinstate the death penalty,” the resolution added.
‘Bakit sila nakikialam?’
According to Sotto, the body “must be told that we are a democratic nation ruled by law.”
He said “our judicial system is fully functioning and there are many legal remedies available to Senator De Lima.”
“Bakit sila nakikialam?” Sotto asked.
“The (Department of Foreign Affairs) must see to it that (the filing of a note verbale of protest) is done. Baka akala nila pwede tayo basta apihin!” he added.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, for his part, said the EP had “crossed the line” and should “step back and do some soul-searching.”
He said that while parliaments were “free to air their sentiments on various issues worth commenting on from their own point of view,” they should “refrain from (interfering) in internal affairs by commenting on and worse, demanding the reversal of certain actions taken by sovereign nations.”
‘Mind your own business’
“Ahem, please mind your own business and don’t ever tell the PH Senate on who should chair any of its committees,” he said.
“(The EP) has no right to manage PH affairs hence much more no right to micro-manage our country,” he said.
De Lima has been detained in the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since her arrest in February.
The arrest stems from a case filed against her at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 in connection with her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trading in the New Bilibid Prison.
De Lima faces other drug-related cases in Branches 205 and 206 of the Muntinlupa RTC, and a disobedience to summons case in the Quezon City Metropolitan Court.
The disobedience to summons case was filed against her after she admitted telling her alleged bagman Ronnie Dayan to skip House of Representatives hearings into the drug trade in the NBP last year.