Despite the legal battle she is facing for obviously trumped-up illegal drug charges, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has vowed to keep her busy with drafting legislative measures aimed to promote the welfare and protect the rights of ordinary Filipino people.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said she has her plate full with bills and resolutions she is reviewing for possible filing soon, along with a long list of books and other relevant reading materials she intends to finish.
“I keep myself busy while regularly working on filing bills and resolutions because I don’t want my mind to be idle and be lured into bitterness or depression,” she said.
Considered as one of the women human rights defenders under threat, De Lima continues to fulfill her electoral mandate as a Senator even while she is in detention. In 2017 alone, she has filed 24 bills and 48 resolutions in the Senate.
Since her illegal arrest and unjust detention at the Philippine National Police-Custodial Center, in Camp Crame, Quezon City, she has also issued 215 dispatches about her views about policy and political issues in the country.
Aside from drafting and reviewing proposed legislative measures, the former justice secretary has also started the hobby of taking care of plants inside her detention while petting the stray cats that regularly flock at her quarters.
With encouragements from loyal supporters who regularly visit her, De Lima has also been convinced to give painting lessons a shot, which she said she would start anytime this year.
“When my supporters suggested for me to attend painting lessons, my first reaction was, ‘Matututo kaya ako?’ They answered in the affirmative and I told myself that it’s also good to express myself through art,” she said.
De Lima’s interest on painting was also inspired by her eldest son Israel’s love for the craft. A talented special child, 35-year-old Israel already held an exhibit last year where he showcased the pieces he worked on since he began studying at the Young Artists’ Studio.
Interestingly, Israel’s creation included a portrait of her mother–the Senator herself–wearing a long blue dress, her favorite color.
“He is my angel and my inspiration. He inspires me to do things, be it venturing into painting or continuing my fight for justice and the rule of law,” De Lima said.
De Lima further said she believes keeping herself busy has helped her and will continue to help her cope with the daily struggles inside her detention.
“I don’t want to be depressed, and good thing I’ve never been. Yes, I’m sad at times but never depressed,” she shared.
In detention, De Lima said she was able to allot more time for reflection, especially about the Daily Gospel which brought her closer to God.