Despite missing 79 session days in the Senate due to her continued unjust detention, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has remained active in drafting legislative measures aimed at promoting the welfare and protecting the rights of the Filipino people.
De Lima, the new chairperson of Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said no amount of bogus charges filed against her can prevent her from stepping up her role as a duly-elected Senator of the Republic.
“For more than a year since I was illegally detained on trumped-up charges, I never allowed the political persecution I am suffering under the despotic rule of the madman in Malacañang to prevent me from fulfilling my electoral mandate,” she said.
“Although I’m missing my opportunity to participate during plenary sessions and important debates in the Senate, I regularly work on filing bills and resolutions generally aimed at improving the lives of my fellow Filipinos,” she added.
During the second regular session of the 17th Congress from July 24, 2017 to May 30, 2018, De Lima was not able to join a single session out of 79 sessions because she remains detained at the Philippine National Police-Custodial Center, in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
But despite her physical absence in the Senate halls, De Lima has authored 22 bills and 59 resolutions, co-authored 24 bills and 4 resolutions, and co-sponsored one bill, during the second regular session of Congress alone.
As then chairperson of the Senate electoral reforms committee, she authorized the conduct of two hearings to tackle the proposed postponement of the 2017 barangay and youth elections and the proposed anti-political dynasty measure.
To date, the Senator from Bicol has authored and co-authored 85 bills and 100 resolutions, of which 62 bills and 80 resolutions were filed while in detention.
Among these measures include the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, Expanded Magna Carta of Public Health Workers Act, Qualified Reclusion Perpetua Act for Extraordinary Heinous Crimes, Autism Care Act, and Human Rights Defenders Act of 2018, to name a few.
De Lima, who was recently named as the “Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender” by Amnesty International, maintained that nothing will stop her from being the Senator that the Filipinos expect her to be.
“I will continue doing my work as a Senator whatever challenges come my way because, as I have said before, I owe it to the more than 14 million Filipino people who voted me in office and the people who keep their faith in me in these trying time,” she said.
As the chairperson of the Senate social justice committee, De Lima vowed to continue pushing for more worthy legislative measures that will address issues, such as gender inequality, discrimination against the marginalized, labor security, wage gap, human rights, social security, food security, and rural-urban migration.
“My days inside detention have not been easy, but the Filipino people can expect that ‘work never stops’ for me,” she said.
Detained on false charges of illegal drug trading based on fabricated evidence and perjured testimonies of convicted criminals, De Lima’s personal freedom was the price she had to pay for standing up against the killings under the Duterte regime.
But despite her detention, she continued to reap awards and citations here and abroad, including the Foreign Policy magazine as one of the leading Global Thinkers for 2016 and 2017, by Time Magazine as one of 100 Most Influential People, one of the Icons, for 2017, by Fortune Magazine as 39th World’s Greatest Leader, and by Amnesty International as the Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender for 2018, among others.