Aquino, De Lima supporters mark her 1,000th day in detention
Former President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday rallied supporters of detained Sen. Leila de Lima to follow in her footsteps and speak up against injustice “while we are still free.”
“We can choose not to say anything, we can choose to ignore what is happening in our country. But while we are still free, isn’t now the time to say something? We should speak up now before what happened to Sen. De Lima also happens to us,” the former president said during the #1KnotOK run held in Quezon City to mark the senator’s 1,000th day in detention.
De Lima, a staunch critic of President Duterte has been held at Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, since Feb. 24, 2017, on allegations 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 his human rights record when she headed the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in 2008.
“In all the times I have visited her, not once did she waver. Not once has she cried or said, ‘pity me,’” Aquino said of the senator.
In an interview after his speech, Aquino also compared De Lima’s detention to the time his father, martyred former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was jailed during the regime of authoritarian President Ferdinand Marcos.
“There is a very strong campaign by this government … to isolate her, much like they did my father. But the attendance of everyone today shows that Sen. De Lima is not alone,” Aquino said.
Speaking at the same event, CHR Commissioner Karen Dumpit expressed her personal support for De Lima.
“I laud her for making the human rights defenders bill one of her priorities. It means a lot to all of us, human rights workers, especially because of the alarming increase in reports of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by state agents, and the lack of accountability,” Dumpit said.
Other opposition figures joined the run, among them Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte and Liberal Party vice president Erin Tañada.
In a separate statement, the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, of which De Lima is a member, said her continued detention was “a travesty of justice,” as the cases “are clearly politically-motivated.”
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