Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today marks her first year of illegal arrest and unjust detention which she and several political pundits labelled as an obvious form of political persecution by no less than President Duterte and his minions.
De Lima, the fiercest critic of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, welcomed the day by hearing Holy Mass inside her detention with her family, friends, colleagues and supporters who expressed their solidarity to her.
The Senator from Bicol remains detained inside the national police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City since Feb. 24, 2017 on trumped-up drug charges filed against her by the government without any material evidence.
Yet even from behind bars, she continues to receive awards and recognitions from different international bodies for her unwavering commitment to uphold democratic principles and promote justice, human rights and the rule of law.
Her recent inclusion in Foreign Policy’s “50 Leading Global Thinkers of 2017” last December 2017 and her prestigious “Prize for Freedom” Award by Liberal International (LI) announced last October 2017 are just among the awards and recognitions under her belt as a politically-persecuted senator.
Amid the Duterte administration’s persistent denial of any political vendetta against De Lima, a number of international organizations, human rights groups and personalities have also joined the calls condemning her illegal detention and demanding for her immediate release.
Among them were the members of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), LI, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, US Senator Edward J. Markey, and other minority senators at the Senate.
Without access to any electronic gadget and communication device since her illegal arrest, De Lima simply makes use of her pen and paper to regularly write and issue dispatches and share her views and stands on social, economic and political issues, including her reflections about the political persecution in the hands of the Duterte administration.
As of this writing, she has issued 246 dispatches. Notably, more than 100 of these handwritten statements from her detention have been included in her recently-launched electronic book entitled “Dispatches from Crame I.”
De Lima personally designed the artwork -a bird called “pipit”–on “Dispatches from Crame I.” She also chose notable dispatches that were included in the book such as “Dear loved ones,” “Dear dad,” “I’m not the only one suffering, fighting,” “I cannot be silenced,” “No Regrets,” among many others.
Despite the legal battle she is facing for obviously trumped-up illegal drug charges, the former justice secretary continues to fulfill her electoral mandate as a Senator having filed 41 bills and 58 resolutions in the Senate, to date.