NOVEMBER 20, 2019 – A detained opposition lawmaker on Wednesday vowed to continue her fierce advocacy for human rights under Rodrigo Duterte’s administration as she marks her 1,000th day in detention in a police camp.
In a statement from her detention facility, Leila de Lima said she refuses to give in despite the creeping “hopelessness” that resulted from her physical isolation from the outside world.
“We all know what is in store for us in the next three years. It will not get any easier with Mr. Duterte desperately clinging to whatever is left of his power,” De Lima said.
The minority senator, a staunch critic of Duterte’s bloody war on illegal drugs, was arrested in February 2017 on illegal drug-related charges. She has alleged the charges were “baseless” and was made up to silence her.
“Ngunit tuloy ang laban kasama ang mga pamilyang naulila ng madugong giyera kontra droga, at mga iba pa na niyurakan ang mga karapatang pantao,” she said.
Several opposition leaders, activists and lawmakers from other countries, including US senators, have clamored for De Lima’s immediate and unconditional release from Camp Crame.
The American lawmakers has also filed a resolution urging the Philippine government to drop the criminal charges.
De Lima was elected as a senator in May 2016 after serving as justice secretary for six years under the previous administration.
She was also former head of Commission on Human Rights and investigated Duterte who was mayor of Davao City for more than two decades for numerous extrajudicial killings involving an alleged “death squad”.
A Redemptorist priest has documented about 1,400 killings of petty drug dealers, users and other criminals in the city.
The same formula was introduced by Duterte in fighting drugs and criminality nationwide when he was elected president in 2016.
De Lima did not stop her human rights crusade, criticizing Duterte’s anti-illegal drug policy.
In a protest at the University of the Philippines Diliman, political ally and former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III lauded the undampened spirit of De Lima every time he visits her.
“Ni minsan hindi siya umiyak. Ni minsan hindi siya nagsasabing, ‘Kawawa naman ako’,” he said.
“Parati po niyang iniintindi sa lahat ng dadalaw sa kanya na hindi bumigat ang kalooban, hindi sumama ang loob dahil sa awa sa nangyayari sa kanya. Talagang kahanga-hanga siya,” he added.
Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said the truth will soon come out and justice will be served.
“Walang basehan ang mga kasong sinampa ng administrasyong ito laban sa kanya, at walang hustisya sa ating bayan hanggang nakakulong si Sen. Leila na ang tanging kasalanan ay ipaglaban ang ating mga karapatan,” he said.
The United Nations Human Rights Council – Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has adopted a resolution in August 2018, supporting de Lima. (Karen Macalalad / MM)