Philippine court grants bail to jailed Duterte critic


A Philippine court on Monday granted bail to a former senator and fierce critic of former president Rodrigo Duterte's bloody "war on drugs" after nearly seven years in jail on charges she always denied.

Leila de Lima, 64, faced various charges in 2017 within months of launching a Senate inquiry into Duterte's brutal anti-narcotics campaign, in which thousands of users and dealers were killed by police or in mysterious circumstances.

"Finally, I will be freed," she told reporters outside the court after her bail was granted.

"For years, my whole being has been crying out for justice and freedom." 

Duterte, whose term ended in 2022, accused her of colluding with drug gangs while she was justice minister, which led to charges of conspiracy to trade narcotics.

Two of three cases against De Lima have been dismissed and she had sought bail in the one pending case on health grounds, which the court granted on Monday.

De Lima has always insisted the charges against her were baseless and politically motivated.

Her lawyer, Filibon Tacardon, told Reuters by phone, De Lima could walk out of prison later on Monday.

Human rights groups accused Duterte of inciting deadly violence and said police murdered unarmed drug suspects and staged crime scenes on a massive scale in the course of the campaign against drugs.

Police always denied that and Duterte insisted police were under orders to kill only in self-defence.

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