De Lima: ‘My unjust detention was a curse and a blessing’
MANILA, Philippines — After being granted bail on Monday, former Senator Leila de Lima recounted her more than six years in detention, calling it both a curse and a blessing.
“I’ve always considered my unjust detention as a curse and a blessing,” said De Lima in a press conference.
“It is a curse because I don’t deserve it at all; it’s a blessing because there are many things also that I’ve learned while in detention,” she added.
De Lima said she had learned to become more prayerful while she was detained for six years and eight months, developing a closer relationship with God and learning to appreciate the mundane things in life.
“I’ve become closer to the Lord because I got so much time to pray, to read the Bible, to reflect and do contemplative prayer,” said De Lima.
“I have [also] learned to appreciate mundane things – small things in life, ‘pag umuulan lumalabas ako sa quarters ko para obserbahan ‘yung ulan,” she added.
(When it rains, I go out of my quarters to observe the rain.)
Cats as companions
The former senator then spoke fondly of the cats in the custodial facility that served as her companions in her almost seven years of being detained.
“I have small cats. I was so sad, almost crying when I left the custodial today because I had to leave the cats there,” said De Lima.
“They are my companions. They kept my sanity intact,” she added.
De Lima even described her ordeal as a “purifying experience,” but noted that she was always tempted to tell off those who say they can “imagine what she feels.”
“I am tempted to say no you can never imagine what I feel, you will know it only when you go through this yourself,” said De Lima.
“I have developed a very routinary life in my detention and my problem now is how to adjust kasi magiging iba na ang aking routine (because my routine will be very different) from now on,” she added.
De Lima said her being apart from her family was one of her lowest points during detainment, including not being able to celebrate their milestones with them, or even be with her ailing mother.
The former senator also lamented not being able to pay respect to relatives, friends, and colleagues who died within her almost seven years of confinement.
“Of course yung mga wala na sa mundong ito, mga kamag anak, mga kaibigan, noong nawala si PNoy [former President Benigno Aquino III), I was so down I could not even pay my last respects, like si [former] Sec. Dinky [Soliman], masakit sa’kin not being able to say goodbye,” she said.
(Of course, those who are no longer in this world, relatives, friends, and when former President Aquino died, I was so down I could not even pay my last respects, even for Sec. Dinky Soliman. It hurts me not to be able to say goodbye.)
Because of this, De Lima said that one of the first things she’ll do after being granted legal vindication is to go home to Bicol and visit her mother who she hasn’t seen for more than four years.
De Lima was granted bail by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court for her remaining drug case.
She has been detained since February 24, 2017 — for drug charges which her camp said were “trumped up” — just months after launching a Senate inquiry into former President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.