Sen. De Lima: 100 days of persecution won’t break me
CAMP CRAME, Quezon City --- As she marks her 100 days in detention, Sen. Leila M. de Lima last Saturday, June 3, assured the public that she is doing well even as she remains hopeful on the favorable outcome of the trumped-up charges hurled against her. De Lima, who has recently been named among this year’s 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine, said her unjust detention has not dampened her spirit by coordinated lies and disinformation leveled against her. “My first 100 days of persecution have not been easy, but all the attempts to spread lies and disinformation about me, these attempts to silence me and thousands of decent Filipinos, have failed to weaken and divide us,” she said. “Every day, it becomes clear that this administration is only fixated on discrediting the political opposition, fabricating false evidence and soliciting perjured testimonies from convicted inmates to silence us,” she added. Dubbed as a “Prisoner of Conscience” by Amnesty International, De Lima managed to release 95 handwritten dispatches, conveying her personal thoughts and views on key issues in the country. Even while in detention, she has always been updated with national issues through the Daily Pouches that her staff prepares for her. “Although I’m missing my opportunity to be in the Senate to fulfill my electoral mandate, these persecution tactics have made me stronger than ever. I am determined to fight the despotic rule of a madman,” she said. She, however, reiterated her request for support from the present Senate leadership that she be allowed occasional furlough so that she can vote on crucial pieces of legislation. To date, De Lima has so far filed 29 bills and 24 resolutions, of which 10 of these bills and 14 of these resolutions were filed while in detention. At the same time, she has also co-authored four other bills of national importance. The Senator’s forced isolation from the public has also given her time to nourish herself mentally and spiritually. Aside from holding bi-weekly masses in the Custodial Center, she has read more inspirational books, including “The Gospel of Mercy According to Juan/a” by Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David and Nina L.B. Tomen. The book was a gift to her by former Civil Service Commission Commissioner Karina David. In the past 100 days of her political persecution, De Lima has been graced by the presence of notable personalities. Among her many visitors include former President Benigno S. Aquino III, Vice-President Leni Robredo, members of the Senate Minority Bloc, the Magnificent 7 of the House of Representatives, the Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon, several Civil Society Organizations, and even her favorite dog, Coco, among others. Her avid supporters have also noted how De Lima’s detention have continued to inspire them to carry on the fight like she would. They banded together and form the Free Leila Movement to press for her immediate release. “No matter how sordid the lack of justice in the country is, the Filipinos will not falter in fighting for their rights. History has proven that,” Free Leila Movement Convenor Regina Mabalatan said at the recent 1-million signature campaign launch of the Free Leila Movement. “Every time we visit her (De Lima), we become more inspired to fight like her. We never saw her weaken; instead she continues to fight. We will fight with her for justice, human rights, and democracy,” Mabalatan added. De Lima is currently detained at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City. She believes that the charges against her were fabricated to silence her continuous criticism of the government’s human rights violations, notably in the murderous war on drugs. Despite being locked up in detention, De Lima has been recognized for her works as a human rights defender. Time Magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential Icons for 2017, while Amnesty International named her as one of the Global Woman Human Rights Defenders. Earlier, she was recognized as one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers for 2016 by the Washington D.C. – based Foreign Policy Magazine. Last May 22-24, the members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union had paid her a visit to look into her condition as they expressed deep concern over the trumped-up cases the present administration has hurled against her.