Duterte Critic Detained for Six Years Gets Philippine Bail

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(Bloomberg) -- A Philippine court has granted the bail petition of former Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of ex-President Rodrigo Duterte who has been in detention for more than six years.

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“I’ve been praying so hard for this day to come,” an emotional de Lima, 64, told reporters on Monday as she was ushered out of the court by the police. “I don’t want to be sad or bitter today. This is a moment of triumphant joy and also thanksgiving,” she said in remarks televised by ABS-CBN News Channel.

The bail was granted on her last remaining drug case where she had been accused of tolerating illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary when she was justice secretary. A court acquitted her in May on a separate charge alleging that she conspired to trade illegal drugs during her stint in the justice department.

The cases against the former senator were filed during the presidency of Duterte, whose campaign against illegal drugs killed thousands. When de Lima led the human rights commission, she investigated Duterte’s war on drugs that he started when he was a city mayor.

De Lima, who repeatedly denied the accusations against her, thanked the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for “respecting the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.”

Marcos, earlier this year, said there had been abuses during his predecessor’s anti-drug campaign, one that’s being investigated by the International Criminal Court.

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement that de Lima’s “release from prison through bail is the beginning of the end to this shameful episode in our democracy.”

In September, Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and her online media company Rappler that had accused Duterte’s government of intimidation was acquitted by a Philippine court of tax evasion.

--With assistance from Cliff Venzon.

(Adds former senator’s quote in second and fifth paragraphs.)

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