De Lima ‘moved, humbled’ by Recto’s ‘free Leila’ plea
MANILA, Philippines — Detained Senator Leila de Lima is “moved and humbled” by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto’s call to the incoming administration to release her.
De Lima expressed her gratitude to Recto in a handwritten letter to him, according to a statement released by her office on Friday.
“My profound gratitude for your farewell speech yesterday in which you honor me and call for my freedom,” she said in her letter to Recto.
“I am moved and humbled by the gesture and greatly pleased with the importance and forcefulness of the words therein,” she added.
During the last session day of the 18th Congress on Wednesday, Recto made a plea to President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to “free Leila.”
In his speech, Recto described de Lima as a “feisty lady worthy of our respect.”
De Lima, Recto said, is a “prisoner of conscience, punished for her courage, but whose spirit no prison walls could contain.”
“Trolls put her behind bars. The truth shall set her free,” he added.
De Lima, who has been detained since February 2017, agreed with Recto, saying she continues to focus on the dismissal of the drug cases against her. De Lima has repeatedly denied and described as “trumped-up” the charges against her.
“You are right, Sen. Ralph. No prison walls could contain me; so is justice and my determination to see my full vindication,” said the opposition senator, a known fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Recto’s appeal for de Lima’s release comes as more witnesses retract their allegations linking the detained senator to the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.
De Lima also thanked Senator Grace Poe for speaking up about the “injustice” against her in a May 31 privilege speech that honored eight outgoing members of the Senate.
“Thank you [Sen. Grace Poe] for openly recognizing the injustice that has befallen me,” a “deeply touched” de Lima said in her letter to Poe.
In her speech, Poe said De Lima has kept on “fighting the good fight” and remains “unbroken.”
“But her incarceration is proof that our justice system is broken,” Poe also, pointed out.
Fight goes on
While De Lima said she will miss the upper chamber, she assured Poe that she will continue working for her advocacies even as a private citizen.
“Indeed, departures always leave an irreplaceable void. I will miss the Senate and will always remain amazed by the magnitude of our duty and grateful for the opportunity to have served, albeit under a less than ideal environment given my situation,” she said.
“But this is not goodbye, Sen. Grace. Tuloy ang laban natin para sa katotohanan at hustisya [The fight for truth and justice continues]. I look forward to [continuing] working with you on our shared causes,” she added.
De Lima, as chairperson of the Senate social justice committee. had authored and sponsored four landmark bills that were eventually enacted into law, namely the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Institutionalization Act, Magna Carta of the Poor Act, National Commission of Senior Citizens Act, and Community Based Monitoring System Act.
De Lima has authored or co-authored nearly 700 bills and resolutions since 2016. Of this, over 600 were filed while in detention, according to her office.
De Lima did not succeed in her reelection bid in the May 9 elections.
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