Durbin Calls On Philippine Government To Release Filipina Senator De Lima

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today once again called for the Philippine government and its autocratic president, Rodrigo Duterte, to release Filipina Senator Leila de Lima or assure a quick and credible trial for her politically motivated incarceration.  Senator de Lima is the former head of the National Human Rights Commission of the Philippines and an internationally recognized human right champion who was critical of President Duterte’s extrajudicial killings.  The result was her arrest on dubious charges and now more than 1,000 days in jail.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin also called on President Duterte to stop threatening the travel of Filipino Americans and so many others who travel between the U.S. and the Philippines.  Last month, Durbin, along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ed Markey (D-MA), were barred from travel to the Philippines by President Duterte in response to an amendment in the State and Foreign Operations funding bill that denies U.S. visas from those involved in Senator de Lima’s incarceration. 

“There is an easy and honorable way forward.  The Duterte regime should stop threatening the travel of Americans and so many others who travel between our nations and instead ensure a quick and credible trial for Senator de Lima,” Durbin said.  “In the end, these will be important tests of whether cherished democratic norms we share with our long-standing Filipino allies will be respected by President Duterte.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Durbin, along with Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Chris Coons (D-DE) have introduced a bipartisan resolution that condemns ongoing human rights abuses in the Philippines.  The resolution specifically raises the cases of Senator de Lima and Maria Ressa, a journalist for the news outlet Rappler that has been the target of government harassment.

Over the years, Durbin has raised the cases of various political prisoners around the world, oftentimes journalists or activists who have found themselves jailed for defending basic democratic freedoms we take for granted in the United States.  Durbin believes these efforts not only help maintain America’s image as a champion of human rights and democracy, but are also an important source of its leadership around the world.