Senator Leila M. de Lima has thanked Jesuit priest Albert Alejo, one of her spiritual advisors, for his continued guidance and support for her amid her ordeal and wished him renewed strength to carry on his advocacies during his birthday last Aug. 25.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said Fr. Alejo, fondly called by friends as “Paring Bert”, has not allowed any challenges to prevent him from defending the powerless and resisting the crooked policies of the government.
“What do you wish for someone who is unwavering in his fight for truth and social justice amid relentless threats to his life and his calling? Bukod sa maayos na kalusugan at payapang kalooban, ay ang tuloy-tuloy na paglaban, Paring Bert,” she said in a handwritten letter to the priest released during the latter’s birthday last Aug. 25.
“Because we know that when systematic political repression becomes a state policy, it has a way of creeping into our core, rendering people paralyzed, oblivious of the monstrosities around. There is no other recourse but to resist and fight,” she added.
Like De Lima, Alejo has been known as a vocal critic of the Duterte administration’s bogus war on drugs as he persistently called for an end to the unprecedented extrajudicial killings in the country that targeted the poor and the oppressed.
Amid his fight against human rights abuses and tyranny, Alejo continues to be on the receiving end of harassment and attacks as he was among the priests who received insults and death threats through text messages from unknown people last March. He is also one of the respondents, along with four (4) bishops, two (2) other priests and opposition leaders, including Vice President Leni Robredo and De Lima, in the sedition case filed by PNP-CIDG.
Under the leadership of a looming authoritarian, the lady Senator from Bicol said she and Alejo are aware that the struggle of human rights defender is “far from over” but they are optimistic that evil can never trump the good and just.
“We know that our struggle is far from over. Sabi mo nga ‘patikim pa lang yan’ of the vile threats that you, Father Robert [Reyes] and Father Flavie [Villanueva] have been receiving,” said De Lima, referring to her two other spiritual advisors and friends.
“The degree of cunning and malice that the current regime has employed in intimidating its own people, has risen to such level that we both can say, is unprecedented. Ngunit alam rin natin na walang imposible sa Diyos na mapagpalaya at sa sambayanang nagkakaisa,” she added.
De Lima shared that she is grateful for the guidance and support she receives from Fr. Alejo because it helped strengthened her faith in God and her resolve to fight for justice and human rights amid her unjust detention over trumped-up drug charges.
“Sa mga panahong hindi maiwasang panghinaan ng loob ay mas tumitibay ang pananalig ko sa Diyos at pag-asa na makakamit din ng bayang ito ang hinahangad nating hustisya,” she said.
“Your spiritual guidance, and the strength of your resolve to help the least, the destitute and the broken, has helped me immensely through these years of injustice. Thank you for being there always for me and our community of dreamers and warriors,” she added.
Alejo, along with Frs. Reyes and Villanueva, are regularly present every Sunday inside De Lima’s detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, to officiate the Holy Mass attended by the senator’s family members, friends and supporters.
(Access Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s handwritten letter to Fr. Albert “Paring Bert” Alejo, S.J., here:https://bit.ly/341Kl9Q)