Various groups welcomed the acquittal of former Senator Leila De Lima after the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court dismissed illegal drugs case charged against her by the former Duterte regime.

This case was the third and last case filed against her. She was declared not guilty on her first case on 2021, and the second on May 2023.  She was allowed to post bail on November 2023.  She was detained for a total of more than seven years.

While supporters of de Lima are happy with the no guilty verdict on her last case, they called for accountability of those who filed these cases.  De Lima comtemplates on filing charges against the former President Duterte for his crimes in his “war on drugs”.

In a statement, human rights group KARAPATAN said that the court’s decision showed that the charges against de Lima are baseless.

“Former President Rodrigo Duterte along with those who conspired to bring such patently false charges against de Lima should be held accountable,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

“We congratulate Sen. Leila de Lima et al on their release, after more than 7 years of unjust imprisonment. This positive court decision is proof not only of Senator de Lima’s innocence, but also of the tireless efforts of all freedom-loving Filipinos calling for their release,” said Gabriela’s Secretary General Clarice Palce.

Fides Lim, spokesperson of KAPATID, the support group of political prisoners, said that the wrongful detention of de Lima for nearly seven years “would not have happened had the Department of Justice upheld the rule of law from the beginning and rejected the filing of false cases against the fiercest critic of former President Duterte and his failed drug war.”

Lim reiterated her group’s call for the release of other political prisoners. Kapatid said there are 777 more political prisoners who also face baseless charges such as illegal possession of firearms and explosives which in fact, Lim said, were planted to deny them the right to bail.

Meanwhile, militant group Bayan Muna urged Ms. De Lima to campaign for the release of other political prisoners charged under Mr. Duterte’s government.

Her voice would be influential in calling for the government to release other political prisoners, Bayan Muna Executive Vice President Carlos Isagani T. Zarate said in a statement.