Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima commended the Commission and Elections (COMELEC) and its moderator, broadcast journalist Ces Oreña-Drilon, for preparing relevant and tough questions, including issues concerning her unjust detention, in the recent presidential debate for Halalan 2022.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said the debate topic about her case, highlighted how Duterte created a culture of fear as some presidentiables were obviously reluctant to speak up on the said issue.
“Kudos to COMELEC and Ms. Ces Drilon for asking the tough question,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1244.
“Ito ang klima ng takot na ginawa ni Duterte. Napakalinaw na ang ginawa sa akin ni Duterte ay political persecution at panggigipit lamang dahil sa personal vendetta. Subalit kahit mga naturingang kandidato pagka-pangulo ay natatakot magsalita sa isyu mismo ng persecution, sa loob man o labas ng isang debate.
“Si VP Leni at Ka Leody lamang ang may tapang na magsalita ng totoo ukol sa kawalang hustisya na patuloy na ginagawa sa akin,” she added.
During the second COMELEC presidential debate last April 3, some of the presidential bets responded to Drilon’s question whether De Lima should be freed following calls for her release.
Labor leader and presidential candidate Ka Leody de Guzman said De Lima should be freed while Mayor Isko Moreno stressed that De Lima deserves a day in a court. Sen. Manny Pacquiao, for his part, while acknowledging likewise the need for due process, nevertheless cited what was supposedly told to him by De Lima’s co-accused in one of the cases.
Prior to this, VP Leni Robredo herself has been vocal of her support for De Lima, saying in a previous statement that the only reason while De Lima is detained because “Si Senator Leila ang pinakauna at pinakamatapang na tumindig laban sa patayan. Nagsabi at patuloy na nagsasabi ng totoo. Ipinaglalaban niya ang buhay at karapatan ng mga Pilipino.”
Reacting to Pacquiao’s statement, De Lima emphatically said: “I am nothing but innocent of whatever garbage of accusation thrown against me by this administration and anyone seeking brownie points from Duterte, including those using the Presidential debates to parrot the lies.
De Lima further stated: “Pero basta’t patas lamang ang batas at ang hukuman, walang ibang katapusan ang mga kaso laban sa akin kung hindi ibasura ang mga ito at kasuhan at parusahan ang mga nagkalat ng kasinungalingan, mula witnesses hanggang sa mga handlers nito at mga opisyales na responsable.”
In a related Tweet, and in further reaction to Pacquiao’s statement, De Lima countered: “Naniwala ka ba agad basta sinabi lang sayo? Did you ever give me the benefit of being asked my side also? If not, what is the point of mentioning an unfounded accusation during a presidential debate? Yan ba ang due process as you know it?”
In a separate Tweet, De Lima thanked Ka Leody for vowing to give her justice should he be elected as president.
“Maraming salamat Ka Leody sa panawagan na dapat na akong palayain at makamit ang hustisya na ipinagkakait ng rehimeng Duterte para patuloy akong gipitin at patahimikin.
“Maraming salamat sa di-nagmamaliw na tiwala at matapang na pagsuporta sa ating mga ipinaglalaban,” she said.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime who remains detained over-trumped-up drug charges, marked her 5th year in unjust detention last Feb. 24. She has consistently and firmly asserted her innocence in the cases filed against her. Due to lack of evidence, she was acquitted in one of these three cases on Feb. 17, 2021. (30)