Markey, Durbin, Merkley Statement on Acquittal of Final Charge Against Former Philippine Senator Leila De Lima 

Washington (June 26, 2024) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) today released the following statement regarding Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, who was cleared of the third and final charge against her. Former Senator de Lima was detained by the Duterte government on trumped-up charges in 2017 and jailed for nearly seven years due to her outspoken defense of human rights and rule of law in the Philippines, particularly as it applied to the War on Drugs.

“We celebrate that Senator Leila de Lima is finally free and cleared of the bogus, politically-motivated charges against her,” said Senators Markey, Durbin, and Merkley. “We commend Senator de Lima for her bravery in putting her own freedom on the line to uphold the Philippines’ democratic principles. Her unyielding commitment to truth is an inspiration for us all as we continue to call for justice for the other victims of the War on Drugs, and the welcome resolution of her cases will help our countries better focus on our broader alliance and many shared common interests.” 

For almost seven years, de Lima has been held by the Government of the Philippines on dubious charges, even after multiple government witnesses recanted. Since her arrest, there have been numerous Congressional efforts to support her release and promote human rights and democracy in the Philippines more broadly. Senators Markey, Durbin, and Merkley have repeatedly called for the release of political prisoners, including Senator Leila de Lima, and for the false charges against her to be dropped. Senators Markey and Durbin also celebrated her release on bail in November 2023. Additionally, Senators Markey and Durbin, along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), introduced a bipartisan resolution that raised human rights concerns in the Philippines, and specifically noted the cases of Senator de Lima and Maria Ressa, a journalist for the news outlet Rappler that has been the target of government harassment.