As she marks her first year of unjust detention today, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima’s family, friends, fellow senators and former colleagues from the Aquino Cabinet including former President Benigno Aquino III have gathered insider her detention cell in the PNP headquarters to express their solidarity to her.
De Lima, along with her visitors, attended a Holy Mass officiated by Archbishop Socrates Villegas.
Aquino, who said he prays for De Lima’s freedom every night, expressed her admiration for the Senator’s unbreakable spirit, which is not weakened despite her detractors’ effort to pin her down.
“I admire Leila’s strength to withstand all these challenges for the service of her countrymen,” he said.
“It’s normal to think and ask myself ‘until when will this [detention] continue?’ knowing the fact that there are a lot of people who believe in Leila’s innocence. But at the end of the day, I believe that God won’t give us a problem we can’t handle. I know that God has a perfect plan for all of us, for Leila,” he said.
The former President further likened De Lima’s unjust detention to that of his father’s, democracy icon and late former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr, saying “I can visualize how difficult it is to be confined in a small cell.”
Former senator and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, on his part, vouched for De Lima’s “good character” and innocence.
“Pinaparating ko ang aking pakikiisa kay Leila. Patuloy akong naniniwala sa kanyang mabuting character and innocence sa lahat ng mga gawa-gawang charges na inihain laban sa kanya,” he said.
Aside from the gathering inside the PNP headquarters, there were a series of events that took place to mark De Lima’s first year of unjust detention.
A motorcade bearing 365 roses, (symbolizing each day of Sen. De Lima’s illegal detention) preceded the day’s activities. From the Quirino Grandstand at 8 a.m., motorcycle riders passed on the flowers to five runners, including Vicente De Lima II (De Lima’s younger brother), who then delivered them in Camp Crame.
Other notable personalities who visited De Lima in her detention include Senators Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, Franklin Drilon, Kiko Pangilinan, Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman and former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Ging Deles, Congressmen Tom Villarin and Teddy Baguilat among others.