CAMP CRAME, Quezon City --- Bicolana Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed jubilation at what she described as a “beautiful rosary” sent to her by Pope Francis. This she shared during Tuesday’s Mass at the PNP Custodial Center attended by family members, friends and supporters.
In a handwritten letter she sent ahead of her birthday last August, De Lima requested Pope Francis for prayers for herself and the Filipino people, especially for the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings in the country.
“I cannot thank Pope Francis enough for his thoughtfulness. I’m deeply, deeply touched by the Pope’s gesture. This gift will constantly remind me that, despite the political persecution I am experiencing right now at the hands of a vengeful President. I should keep the faith and fight tirelessly for the welfare of the Filipino people,” she said.
De Lima told the group that last Nov. 22, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Chaplain personally paid a visit to De Lima and handed to her the rosary from Pope Francis, which was coursed through the Papal Nuncio.
“Last Nov. 22, the PNP Chaplain personally handed to me a beautiful rosary from Pope Francis as well as the latter’s message coursed through the Papal Nuncio,” she narrated.
“According to the Chaplain, Pope Francis was able to read my letter and assured that he is praying for me,” she added.
In her letter to Pope Francis, she asked the Pontiff to offer a prayer for her and her beloved countrymen who are suffering from abuses and injustices since Duterte launched his government’s all-out war on drugs.
“Papa Francesco, if I may be granted one wish, I hope that you will say a prayer for me and the Filipino people. Please bless me so I can have the strength to continue the fight against the injustice that is happening not only to me, but to thousands of Filipinos who are victims of extrajudicial killing,” she said in her letter.
De Lima also asked for the Pope’s blessing to give her strength in relentlessly standing up against the state-led abuses.
“I do not know when I will regain my freedom. Only faith sustains me through this nightmare. Please include me and the Philippines in your prayers,” she added.
Since her unjust arrest and unfair detention, De Lima said she has become more prayerful with the guidance of her spiritual advisers. She reads the Bible daily and attends Sunday masses with family and friends within the detention facility.
The third Pontiff to grace the Philippines, Pope Francis last visited the country in January 2015 as part of his effort to see the victims of Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda, which devastated the country in 2013.
The full text of De Lima’s message to Pope Francis in English, dated 15 August 2017, is as follows:
Dear Papa Francesco,
I am Leila de Lima, a senator from the Philippines and a political prisoner who has been incarcerated for the past 173 days, by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The international community has been appalled by the brazen violation of human rights since Duterte waged his war on drugs.
This August 27, I will turn 58 years old. Life’s journey has had its ups and downs, but I never imagined that my birthday would be spent inside a jail.
Papa Francesco, if I may be granted one wish, I hope that you will say a prayer for me and the Filipino people.
Please bless me so I can have the strength to continue the fight against the injustice that is happening not only to me, but to thousands of Filipinos who are victims of extra judicial killing.
I do not know when I will regain my freedom. Only Faith sustains me through this nightmare.
Please include me and the Philippines in your prayers.
God bless you Papa.
My heartfelt thanks,
Leila M. de Lima