De Lima on 1,000th day in jail: I have never been defeated
MANILA, Philippines—Opposition Senator Leila de Lima remained defiant even as she has been “unjustly incarcerated” for 1,000 days now.
“I have been maligned, and I have been persecuted,” De Lima said in a statement Wednesday, which marks the 1,000th day of her detention for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade when she was still Justice secretary.
“Yet I have never been defeated and never been stripped of my dignity, though my oppressors surely gave it their best try,” she stressed.
Supporters and colleagues of the senator gathered Wednesday morning to join the “indignation run” to protest her “unjust” detention. Among the notable personalities who joined the event were former lawmakers and opposition stalwarts Gary Alejano and Erin Tañada. Also in attendance was former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been in detention at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since Feb. 24, 2017, on charges that she was involved in the illegal drug trade.
She has denied the charges, saying they were fabricated in retaliation for her fierce criticism of Duterte’s brutal war on drugs and monitoring of his human rights record since the time she headed the Commission on Human Rights in 2008.
De Lima said that despite being jailed, her heart, mind, and soul “have never been freer.”
“All because truth and true justice are on my side,” she declared.
The former Justice secretary believed that she serves as a “platform to tell the story of thousands of others; a part of the continuing saga of a people waging a battle far bigger than my own suffering.”
“For beyond the walls of my detention cell, for others, death is the price that they pay for standing up for what is right and just, or for simply being poor,” she said.
Over 5,500 individuals have been killed in the government’s drug war, data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said. But human rights groups have counted that as much as 27,000 lives have been claimed by the drug war death and by unknown hitmen.
“Three years of impunity, three more years of deceit and bloodlust,” De Lima said of Duterte’s presidency.
In her message, which was also read before the indignation run at the CHR grounds in Quezon City, De Lima thanked those who supported her since Day 1 of her detention.
“Life for all of us has been made even more difficult by this administration. Napakasikip na ng espasyo para kumilos at magpahayag [Space is limited to move and express oneself] . But you never faltered, you never allowed yourself to be cowered into silence and defeat. So how could I?”
‘Won’t get any easier’
“We all know what is in store for us in the next three years,” De Lima said. “It will not get any easier with Mr. Duterte desperately clinging to whatever is left of his power.”
But the veteran lawmaker vowed to continue the fight with the people who lost their loved ones in the guise of the drug war and others who have been deprived of their human rights.
“It is only through our collective determination that we can defeat a tyrant who keeps mocking our pain and making light of our victories,” she said.
“When I surrendered to the arresting officers on February 24, 2017, I said that it is my honor to be jailed for my convictions. Today, 1,000 days since my arrest, I say it again: Karangalan ko po na makulong dahil sa mga ipinaglalaban ko [It is an honor for me to be jailed fighting for what I believe in].
“Karangalan ko din na maging bahagi ng malawak na kilusang lumalaban para sa Katarungan at Katotohanan. At dahil nagkakaisa tayo sa paghihirap, iisa rin tayo sa tagumpay. Palagian po nating tandaan: hindi laging maghahari ang dilim,” she concluded.
(It is also an honor for me to be part of a wide movement fighting for justice and truth. And because we are one and united n this struggle, we will also be one and united in our success. Let us always remember: darkness will never forever prevail.)
Edited by JPV
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