On her 1,000th day of unjust detention, Senator Leila M. de Lima has received nothing but praises and encouragement from former President Benigno S. Aquino III who openly expressed his admiration for her resilience and unbroken spirit amid continued political persecution.
In his speech during an indignation run held in protest of De Lima’s plight under the present government last Nov. 20, Aquino said she admires De Lima because she was able to turn her unjust incarceration into inspiration to fight against injustice and authoritarianism.
“Kada dalaw ko kay Leila, ni minsan ho, hindi niya pinakita sa’kin na nanghihina loob nya, ni minsan hindi siya naiyak, ni minsan hindi sya nagsasabing kawawa naman ako,” he said, recalling his visits in her detention quarters at Camp Crame.
“Bagkus no, palagi niyang iniintindi, sa lahat ng dadalaw sa kanya, na hindi bumigat ang kalooban, hindi sumama ang loob dahil sa awa sa nangyayari sa kanya. Talaga hong kahanga-hanga siya,” he added.
Aquino delivered his speech before De Lima’s former colleagues, friends and supporters who gathered in front of the University of the Philippines Diliman Chapel in Quezon City after participating in an indignation run marking the Senator’s 1,000th day in detention.
Fr. Robert Reyes, along with Rep. Kit Belmonte, former Reps. Gary Alejano, Erin Tañada and Tom Villarin, led hundreds of De Lima’s supporters in the said indignation run that started from the Commission on Human Rights grounds and ended in UP Chapel.
While Aquino did not join the run, he expressed his solidarity with De Lima by waiting at the finish line to attend a program and celebrate the Holy Mass offered for the Senator after the run.
Aquino pointed out that De Lima’s resilience is admirable knowing that not everyone can handle isolation and any limitation on freedom dauntlessly like she does.
“Isipin lang po natin, yung isanlibong araw na yan, subukan natin, sa kwarto lang natin sa ating tahanan. Huwag tayong lumabas sa kwartong yun, isang araw lang. Habang nandun tayo sa kwartong yun, huwag tayong gumamit ng computer, o anumang device,” he said.
“Ngayon po, subukan natin kung madali. ‘Pag kaya natin ng isang araw, isipin natin, isanlibong araw, at walang katiyakan kung hanggang saan ba ang katapusan nito,” he added.
The former President said Filipinos should continue being inspired by De Lima, especially in fighting against any wrongdoings in the society and not easily being intimidated by abusive officials.
“Kailangan ho habang mayroong nagsasalita tulad ni Leila, paramihin natin nang paramihin ang bilang na yan para naman ho yung mga ipinahiram ang kapangyarihan ay maalala sino ba dapat ang kanilang pagsilbihan,” he said.
De Lima, a known prisoner of conscience, presented herself to arresting authorities at the Senate building over trumped-up illegal drug charges on Feb. 24, 2017. (30)