Senator Leila M. de Lima remains adamant despite being the subject of vicious attacks from President Rodrigo Duterte, who is irked by her continuous criticism on his administration’s war on drugs.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said that more than the President’s attacks on her, what matters most are the opinions of the “enlightened” citizens who continue to support her causes.
“Duterte must be so pissed off that, despite their gargantuan efforts aimed at discrediting or demolishing my character and dignity, through slut shaming and fabricated charges, various international entities, reputable ones, continue to support my causes, even meriting successive visits to my detention quarters from some of them,” she said in her Dispatch No. 122 from Crame.
“I don’t care if Duterte, in his twisted and greatly prejudiced mind, thinks I have no credibility. What matters are the sentiments and opinions of decent and enlightened men and women. Truth is on my side. I am innocent,” she added.
In his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte criticized De Lima’s credibility and moral character, as he slammed human rights advocates who support and recently visited the Senator in her detention facility at Camp Crame.
Note that De Lima received members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union last May, and a 12-member delegation of the European Union and Liberal International members together with the representatives of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Philippines this month.
The international visitors called for the release of the Senator and denounced Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Meanwhile, De Lima said Duterte, with his “garbage of a speech,” has brought nothing but shame to the country.
“Let me return the favor and ask Duterte the same questions. Do you think you even have the moral values and credible standing, after that garbage of a speech you have unloaded before us and the foreign diplomatic corps?” the Senator asked.
“Wala ka nang tinirang kahihiyan para sa ating bayan sa harap ng buong mundo. Tila yata ang iyong sadya ay walanghiyain nang walang katapusan ang Pilipinas sa ibang bansa. Wala ka nang ginawa kundi bastusin ang Pilipinas at ang mga Pilipino. Ikaw na ang pinakamalaking traydor sa ating bayan,” she said.
The Senator from Bicol noted that the President merely used the SONA as a venue to rant recklessly on different sectors and critics who have been engaging his administration.
The rift between Duterte and De Lima can be traced back as early as 2009 when the Senator, then chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, investigated the former Davao mayor on his alleged involvement to the dreaded Davao Death Squad.
The President unleashed his tirades against De Lima after she initiated a Senate investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings and summary executions under the current administration’s all-out war on drugs last year.
De Lima is considered as the first prominent political prisoner under the present Duterte regime after the government detained her on obviously fabricated drug charges to silence her from her vocal opposition to the President’s murderous war on drugs.