Philippine court acquits 'drug war' critic from narcotics case

MANILA (Reuters) - A Philippine court acquitted the fiercest critic of former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody "war on drugs" in the last of three narcotics cases on Monday.

A trial court issued an order dismissing with finality a drug case against former Senator Leila de Lima, her legal counsel, Filibon Tacardon, told reporters.

De Lima, 64, was greeted by jubilant supporters outside the courthouse.

In November, a court granted her bail on health grounds, nearly seven years after she was jailed on criminal charges she has always denied.

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

Critics and rights group said the police summarily executed drug suspects, which the police deny, saying they acted in self-defence.

Duterte, whose term ended in 2022, accused de Lima of colluding with drug gangs while she was justice minister. Duterte is facing a probe by the International Criminal Court.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Hani Richter and Alex Richardson)