MANILA, Philippines — Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima has accepted that she will no longer be returning to the Senate.
De Lima on Tuesday recognized defeat in the 2022 senatorial polls but said she does not have any regrets.
Based on partial and unofficial canvassing results on Tuesday covering 98.04% of election returns transmitted, de Lima ranked 23rd in the race for the so-called Magic 12.
She was just behind reelectionist Senator Richard Gordon and former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who ranked 22nd and 21st, respectively.
“Mahirap pong maghanap ng mga sasabihin sa ganitong mga pagkakataon. Mahirap isulat. Mahirap tapusin. Dahil kahit anong pilit kong intindihin ang balitang natanggap ko mula sa aking detention quarters kaninang umaga, napakabigat pa rin sa dibdib na tanggapin,” de Lima said.
(It is difficult for me to find words to say in these circumstances. It is hard to write. It is hard to finish. Because even though how hard I try to understand the news I got here in my detention quarters, it still weighs heavy on my chest.)
“Pero kailangan nating umusad at magpatuloy. Dahil walang mangyayari kung magmumukmok lang at iiwan ang nasimulan. Paunti-unti, kailangang mag-ipon ng lakas para makabangon mula sa panghihina at pagkadismaya, at buhatin ang sarili mula sa bigat na nadarama,” she added.
(But we need to move forward and continue. Because nothing will happen if we will just sulk and leave behind what we have started. Slowly, we need to gather our strength to recover and rise again.)
She thanked supporters who campaigned and voted for her, saying that although the fight in the senatorial contest is difficult and an “uphill battle”, they did not abandon her.
“Mabigat po ang laban sa umpisa pa lang, pero hanggang dulo, hindi po ninyo ako iniwan. At sa lahat po ng may agam-agam sa umpisa, subalit nagawang magtiwala nang mamulat sa katotohanan, salamat din po. Nawa’y marami pa tayong maliwanagan at makasama sa laban,” the outgoing legislator said.
(The fight, even from the start, is difficult, but until the end, you did not leave me. And those who had doubts at first but still managed to know the truth, I thank you. I hope we can enlighten more people.)
“As I have said, win or lose, it is the compassion for each other and love for our country that matter–love that propels our shared causes, no matter the cost or consequences,” she added.
“I don’t have any regrets. I am still and forever will be thankful for the opportunity to serve our countrymen. Mapapagod, pero hindi susuko. Magagalit, pero hindi mauubos ang pagmamahal sa bayan. Mangangamba at mag-aalala, pero hindi maduduwag na ipaglaban ang tama at makatarungan. I will continue to fight and fight more for Truth, Justice, and Freedom,” De Lima continued.
(I will get tired but will not give up. I will get angry but my love for the country will not run out. I will fear and worry but I will not cower in the fight for what is right and just.)
De Lima ran under the slate of presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo, who only placed second to her opponent Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the presidential race.
She, a Liberal Party member, was part of the minority bloc of the Senate. She has been detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City since February 2017 on drug charges which she repeatedly firmly denied.
One of the fiercest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, many believed de Lima was a victim of political harassment as she led a series of Senate hearings that probed Duterte’s controversial “drug war” and links to the Davao Death Squad during his term as Davao City mayor.
Key witnesses against de Lima recently recanted their accusations against her, saying they were coerced or forced to testify against her.