Supporters hold online concert for De Lima’s 61st birthday
MANILA, Philippines — Political opposition members, artists, celebrities, and church leaders held an online concert on Thursday, August 27, to celebrate detained Senator Leila de Lima’s 61st birthday.
Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Francis Pangilinan, and Risa Hontiveros, artists Angel Aquino and Ebe Dancel, Archbishop Soc Villegas, Bishop Ambo David, lawyers Chel Diokno, Erin Tañada, and Neri Colmenares, among many others, joined in wishing De Lima good health and to receive justice as she remains in detention over what she calls trumped-up charges.
The program for De Lima, dubbed “Leilaya” — a play with the senator’s name and the Filipino word “laya” or freedom — aimed to celebrate the senator’s life, and to call for her release from police custody.
According to Robredo, they are continuing De Lima’s fight against injustice as they owe it to her to push for the things she initiated. The Vice President also assured they are working for her release from jail.
“We stand on the side of freedom and dignity of courage and resolve. We owe to you, Senator Leila de Lima, and the countless others who have experienced injustice, who have been murdered, have passed, who are going hungry due to incompetence and neglect,” Robredo said.
“Kaya sa’yo po Sen. Leila, nandito po kami, hindi ka nag-iisa. We carry on your fight at kabilang ang katarungan at kalayaan para sa’yo sa mga pangunahin naming isinusulong, kapit lang po,” she added.
(That’s why Senator Leila, we are here, you are not alone. We carry on your fight and justice and freedom for you are among our primary goals, please hold on.)
De Lima thanked in advance the people who gave solidarity messages, noting that her fight is not only about her release from prison but also a fight seeking accountability for the injustices that have plagued the country.
“This event is not about me but about our shared desire to fight for freedom under this vindictive regime,” she said in a handwritten statement from her detention cell in Camp Crame’s Custodial Center.
“Despite my unjust detention, I keep a grateful spirit knowing that so many are in solidarity with my causes, believing in my innocence. Together, we can overcome the oppression,” she added.
De Lima has been in jail for over three years now due to drug-related charges. This stemmed from allegations that she allowed the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison while she was a justice secretary during the administration of Noynoy Aquino.
However, the opposition believes that the arrest of De Lima was a form of political persecution as the senator was critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs. When De Lima was Commission on Human Rights chair, she also launched an investigation into alleged vigilante killings in Davao during Rodrigo Duterte’s tenure as mayor of the city.
But Malacañang insists that De Lima is not a prisoner of conscience, but a prisoner of her own doing.
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