Manila, Philippines – Former President Benigno Aquino III, Sens. Bam Aquino and Franklin Drilon, and other supporters of Sen. Leila de Lima trooped to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame on Saturday to mark the senator’s first year in detention.
Among the other visitors were former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, actress Agot Isidro, and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas celebrated a Mass at the PNP Custodial Center to mark the occasion.
The Mass was the culmination of a motorcade organized by the Free Leila Movement from the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park in Manila to Camp Crame in Quezon City.
The movement – composed of De Lima’s family, friends and supporters – has been pushing for the senator’s release after one year of detention on what her supporters described as “trumped-up drug charges.”
En route to Camp Crame, the Free Leila Movement handed out 365 roses representing every day that the staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte had been deprived of her freedom.
In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque greeted De Lima “a happy anniversary” and said that her “incarceration shows that the criminal justice system in the Philippines [was] alive, effective and working.”
Last week, Malacañang slammed Human Rights Watch (HRW) for its supposed interference in the country’s domestic affairs after it called on the government to drop all charges against De Lima.
“We condemn this continued interference not only because it misleads the public, but because it mocks the integrity of our justice system,” Roque said in a statement last Wednesday.
“Senator De Lima is being portrayed as a prisoner of conscience, a so-called martyr for justice. She is none of these,” Roque said of the senator, whose drug-related charges were based mainly on the testimony of several convicted drug felons.