“All throughout her ordeal, she has consistently demonstrated personal courage and maintained composure under the most intense fire.”
February 24 is the fifth year of Senator Leila De Lima’s imprisonment. Recall that on this day De Lima turned herself in after a local court pressed drug-related charges against her and a Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court issued an arrest warrant against her for allegedly violating the drug trafficking law.
Since then, De Lima has remained in detention despite calls from various local and international human rights groups for her release. Dubbed as a “prisoner of conscience,” De Lima continues to discharge her duties as a senator as a fiscalizer for what she believes are excesses by the Duterte administration and abusive public officials, particularly in connection with the administrations’s murderous drug campaign.
Senator De Lima has gone through a lot as a person and as a public official. Her ordeal started when in 2009 she, as then Commission on Human Rights chairperson, investigated the extrajudicial killings being carried out by the Davao DeathSquad (DDS) in Davao City under then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has reported links to the vigilante group.
When Duterte was elected to the highest post, the EJKs increased and accelerated unabated. It was then that as president, Duterte started harping on De Lima’s investigation and her supposed arrogance during this investigation. In his public pronouncements, Duterte has shown his obsession to get even with De Lima and put her in jail. In 2016, De Lima was also elected senator of the Republic.
During her stint in the upper chamber, De Lima led the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights which conducted an investigation into the EJKs in aid of legislation. In response, Duterte started his public demolition of the good senator with almost daily accusations of being a drug queen as well as slut-shaming, using her past relationship with her former personal driver/ security aide as her supposed link to the Bilibid Drug Trade. She has since been acquitted in one of three drug related cases. There is reason to believe that the remaining cases against her will crumble like a house of cards because the accusations rest on flimsy foundations of falsehoods and calumny, borne as they are from the thirst for vengeance and malice.
De Lima is not one to brood in self pity and languish in utter helplessness and resignation. She has continuously discharged her duties and responsibilities as elected senator of the Republic even in detention. She remains at the thick of every fight involving issues that affect the Filipino people, be it on justice and human rights, foreign policy, social inequality, climate change, electoral system, peace in Mindanao and a lot more.
The bars of prison do not prevent her, if circumstances would allow, from being heard and from taking active part in Senate deliberations, hearings and investigations . Her sense of duty is exemplary in stark contrast to a lot of public officials who run only to pursue the perks and privileges of the office they seek.
In her latest dispatch from Camp Crame, as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the good senator highlighted her situation as a PDL (person deprived of liberty), observing that her reelection bid “is, in real and palpable terms, handicapped or disadvantaged.” She then said: “That’s why I’m hoping that through my surrogates or proxies in the sorties, pre-recorded video messages, and of course, dispatches from Crame, I would be able to communicate to voters my advocacies and platforms).”
In the same note, De Lima also thanked her volunteers and supporters:“I cannot emphasize enough how much you all have fueled even further the burning desire in my heart to keep fighting the good fight for all of us,” she said. “Let us not be afraid. Let us stand and fight and fight more. For our beloved country. For your future and the next generation. Together, we will fight.”
As they say, experience is the best teacher. And on this, Leila De Lima is never lacking. She has gone through every possible persecution and public humiliation. She has been pilloried, unfairly accused and imprisoned. She experienced first hand what persecution is all about, how painful injustice is, and how demeaning and dehumanizing one feels when one’s human rights are trampled upon and steamrolled.
Still, all throughout her ordeal, she has consistently demonstrated personal courage and maintained composure under the most intense fire. With all the adversities she has gone through, De Lima has acquitted herself with utmost excellence by her mettle, intelligence, passion and iron resolve to fight for her convictions If once again reelected in the Senate, she, as in the past, will show that one’s voice can be restored if one only has the courage and determination fight for one’s beliefs and convictions.
For this, reelecting De Lima to the Senate is nothing short of a moral imperative and a public necessity.
Website: tonylavina.com Facebook: deantonylavs Twitter: tonylavs