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Startseite Urgent Actions 2022 05 Government witnesses retract testimony
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Video / Message of gratitude

We have produced a short video summarizing the latest developments and our call for her release. Please find the video here - - and feel free to also share this as widely as you can using the suggested social media messages in the UA.

We are also sharing with you a message of gratitude (date 27.5.2022) to Amnesty members from Senator Leila de Lima herself:

To all the members of Amnesty International (AI):

Let me express my most profound gratitude for your continuing support and concern on my plight as a prisoner of conscience, and for your renewed call for my immediate and unconditional release. Indeed, the world continues to watch and observe the human rights situation here in the Philippines worsened by the current vindictive regime.

It really means a lot to have you, a respected and well-established international organization, standing by my innocence. Thank you for using your platform to raise awareness on my situation, especially now that several witnesses have already retracted their allegations against me.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you. Rest assured that I will continue to fight for our shared causes. I wish to personally thank you soon hopefully freed and vindicated.

Stay strong and keep the fire burning!

Sen. Leila

Government witnesses retract testimony

AI-Index: ASA 35/5647/2022

Three witnesses against prisoner of conscience Senator Leila de Lima have retracted their testimonies against her. They include a former government official who remains a prosecution witness and whose testimony was cited by a court in deciding to proceed with trial. In their latest statements, all three said they were coerced and threatened by the police and high-level government officials to falsely implicate the senator in the illegal drug trade. As it becomes clear that the charges against her were fabricated from the start, these charges must now be dropped, and de Lima must be released immediately and unconditionally.


Senator de Lima, who has been detained at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) since her arrest on 24 February 2017, has been one of the staunchest critics of the human rights violations under the administration of President Duterte. In the last five years since Senator de Lima’s arrest, Amnesty International has repeatedly said that the charges against her were fabricated, and that the supposed testimony by witnesses against her was manufactured.

Former state witness Kerwin Espinosa previously claimed that he gave a total of P8 million (about USD $152,000) in drug payoffs to Senator de Lima when she was Justice Secretary, through her former driver and aide Ronnie Dayan. At a 2016 Senate hearing, Espinosa alleged that Dayan called him in 2015 to solicit money as campaign funds for Senator de Lima, in exchange for protection given his own involvement in the illegal drug trade. In a counter-affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice on 28 April 2022, Espinosa recanted his testimony.

Rafael Ragos, a former acting chief of the Bureau of Corrections, previously testified that in 2012 he delivered money from prisoners in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to de Lima’s residence on two occasions, while she was Secretary of Justice. He testified the money was for her bid to become Senator and said he arranged with Ronnie Dayan for her to receive P5 million (about USD $95,000) per transaction. Ragos was previously an accused alongside de Lima and Dayan, but had his charges dropped after he agreed to act as a witness against her. In a counter-affidavit signed April 30, 2022, Ragos alleged that he was forced to «manufacture lies» against de Lima by former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and other senior officials. Aguirre has since denied this.

On 6 May 2022, Senator de Lima formally asked the Department of Justice to review the charges against her, in light of the retraction of testimonies.

On 13 May 2022, Dayan took the witness stand to swear on an affidavit he earlier submitted to recant his testimony in 2016 that he collected drug money from Espinosa for his then employer Senator de Lima when she was still the Justice secretary. A co-respondent of the Senator in one of the two remaining cases against her, Dayan said former Oriental Mindoro Representative Rey Umali, who passed away in January 2021, coerced him to testify against the Senator during the 2016 Congressional inquiries into the illegal drug trading in NBP.

In 2017, Philippine authorities arrested Senator de Lima after she attempted to investigate abuses committed in the context of the so-called «war on drugs», which has resulted in the extrajudicial execution of thousands of suspected drug offenders and other human rights violations, in what amount to crimes against humanity. As in the case of de Lima, there has largely been no justice or accountability for the victims of these abuses and their families.

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