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Duterte critic ex-Sen. De Lima out on bail, prays in Manaoag, goes home to Iriga City

By Jeanne Michael Penaranda
IRIGA CITY, Camarines Sur — Following her release on bail from the PNP Detention Center in Camp Crame, former senator Leila de Lima prayed at the Minor Basilica in Manaoag and flew to her home in Iriga City to the delight of supporters, friends and relatives.
The ruling was hailed by many in the Philippines and abroad. (See related story.)
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, meanwhile, said the 64-year-old former Senator may likely be acquitted in her remaining drug case as she was granted bail.
“Chances are she will be acquitted because that is a very strong statement when you say that the prosecution was unable to fulfill that burden of proof that is necessary for them to keep her in detention,” said Remulla, a lawyer and former congressman.
The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 on Monday allowed De Lima to post bail for her remaining drug case, giving her temporary freedom after nearly seven years of detention. Judge Gener Gito said that the prosecution was unable to sufficiently establish De Lima’s guilt due to lack of substantial evidence.
De Lima was at the court when her bail was granted and she was tearful when she heard the judge’s decision.
“It pains me to be jailed without doing anything wrong,” said de Lima. “And I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. This is a moment of triumph.”
Later, de Lima said she may go back to teaching law while she attend to personal and family matters.
She said going back to politics has not crossed her mind.

De Lima was detained in 2017 for allegedly receiving money from the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison when she was the justice secretary. She allegedly used the drug money to fund her senatorial bid in 2016.

She has consistently denied this, saying detention was the Duterte administration’s way to silence her for her criticisms of its bloody war on drugs.

The former senator already won her first two cases in 2021 and in early 2023.