As she turns a year older this Aug. 27, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima said she only wishes to have more fortitude to continue leading the fight against the injustices happening under the present administration and in resisting the lies being peddled by some sinister quarters.
De Lima made the statement ahead of her 59th birthday, which she will be celebrating for the second time in detention.
“My birthday wish is to have more fortitude to keep defying and resisting my oppressors,” she said from her detention at the Philippine National Police – Custodial Center, Camp Crame, Quezon City.
“I also wish for more fortitude to keep fighting the injustices done not only to me but also to others. And more fortitude to carry on the torch of hope for my family, my staff and supporters,” she added.
This year, De Lima will celebrate her birthday in a simple gathering to be attended by some close friends, colleagues from the government, staff members and families.
Last year, she celebrated her birthday in detention, which was marked by a simple lunch and a Thanksgiving Mass officiated by Dagupan Bishop Socrates Villegas, along with Fathers Albert Alejo, Robert Reyes, Hector Cañon and Flavie Villanueva.
On her birthday last year, the former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights wished for vindication and freedom from all the trumped-up drug charges filed against her by the vindictive Duterte administration.
“Tulad ng nauna ko nang nabanggit, ang birthday wish ko po: vindication. Paglaya hindi lamang mula sa di-makatarungang pagpapakulong sa akin ng rehimeng Duterte, kundi pati na rin ang paglaya mula sa mga kasinungalingan at paninira sa aking pagkababae at pagkatao,” she said in Dispatch from Crame No. 143.
“Gusto ko pong malinis ang pangalan ko, hindi lang para sa aking sarili. Para ito sa aking pamilya–sa aking ama at ina, na pinalaki kaming magkakapatid nang marangal. Para ito sa aking mga anak at mga apo, at sa kanilang magiging pamilya,” she added.
While De Lima has yet to be vindicated from all the bogus accusations against her, she nevertheless continues to reap international awards and recognitions for her unwavering fight for justice, human rights and the rule of law without being cowed.
Interestingly, De Lima will launch her 2nd book entitled “Fight for Freedom and Other Writings” to mark her 2nd birthday in detention on Aug. 26.
“Fight for Freedom and Other Writings” contains a collection of writings, speeches, letters and notes about De Lima and her quest for freedom that mirror her experience as the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime.
The book carries the foreword by former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and statements and messages of support from prominent personalities including Vice President Leni Robredo, former Hong Kong Legislative Council Member Emily Lau and Liberal International President Juli Minoves, to name a few.
Even in detention, De Lima remains the staunchest critic of the government’s all-out war on drugs despite deliberate efforts to harass and silence her from speaking out against the rampant human rights violations in the country.