Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has thanked some 75 students of St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City for expressing their solidarity with her through handwritten letters sent to her detention quarters in Camp Crame.
De Lima, considered as a leading Prisoner of Conscience, urged the students to keep their youthful energy and drive to convert their awareness — especially of the societal issues under the present administration — into actual, productive actions.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy upon reading your letters. I have read each and every one, and I am struck by the candidness, empathy and social awareness apparent from them. I guess it is what some members of your generation refer to as being ‘woke,'” she said in a letter sent to the students.
“If there is one thing that gives me comfort in these times of trials, it is knowing that the Filipino youth are probably the most ‘woke’ or socially aware demographic in our society today,” she added.
Speaking from her experience as a former student leader, De Lima reminded the Theresians that amid these challenging times, nothing remains impossible with hardwork, passion and determination.
“Please hold on to that feeling – that combination of certainty, positivity, faith, self-confidence and surrender to God’s will – as you grow older. As I have experienced, life can be tough sometimes, but even the toughest times will soon pass,” she said.
In her handwritten letter dated Oct. 15, De Lima said she was happy to receive around 75 letters from the Grade 9 students of St. Theresa’s College, acknowledging that she coincidentally yet fittingly wrote her message on the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila, their school’s patroness.
“I am partly inspired by the life of St. Teresa herself. She, too, was aware of things that needed changing. She had the spirit and drive to attempt to reform what she could and, in time, she accomplished what she sought to do,” she said.
“But for a time, she spent years of her life in pious seclusion, and devoted herself to contemplative study and writing. I consider my circumstances similar to that. I have appreciated that my detention has given me the chance to read more, to contemplate more and, yes, to write more,” she added.
De Lima, who remains detained on trumped-up drug charges, shared that her refusal to be silenced despite the political persecution she is subjected to under the Duterte regime is her way of continuing the fight for human rights, and against oppression and dictatorship.
“So, yes, I am still active, at least within the limits of what I am allowed. But there is more reflection and thought these days,” said De Lima, who has filed 120 bills and 120 resolutions from June 2016 up to this writing.
The Senator from Bicol also took the opportunity to assure the students of her innocence from the bogus drug charges against her, maintaining that her conscience is clear.
“I only have my word and the truth in my defense. And I have to keep the faith that justice will be done,” she said.
“That my innocence will prevail over the self-serving lies of self-confessed drug lords, to whom they have promised immunity and privileges in exchange for their false testimony against me,” she added.