Unfazed despite continued unjust detention, De Lima takes courage from ordinary people for vindication


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima’s political persecution by the Duterte administration may be relentless but she maintained that it only further bolstered her determination and resolve to fight her ongoing battle for freedom and vindication.

In a memoir she wrote for the recently-concluded online event called “Free the Word!” organized by the Philippine Center of International PEN, De Lima shared that she takes courage from the ordinary people for vindication from all the trumped-up drug charges filed against her.

“My faith has never faltered. As I always remind my staff and my family, surrendering our fears, our doubts, our anger to God does not mean consenting to the abuse and suffering. No. Never. Rather, it’s accepting the painful struggle in the promise that nothing lasts forever, and that good will always prevail. And indeed, it is,” she said.

“Last February 17, a few days before the 4th year of my detention, I was acquitted by the Muntinlupa trial court in one of the 3 conspiracy to commit drug trading charges.  But more than this acquittal and the crumbling of fabricated evidence against me, it is the courage of ordinary people that inspires me to believe that vindication is near,” she added.

It may be recalled that Judge Liezel Aquiatan of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 205 granted De Lima’s Demurrer to Evidence in Case Number 17-166, which is tantamount to her acquittal, in one of her trumped-up drug cases.

 “To be acquitted even in just one case, in the time of Duterte, is a moral victory,” De Lima said after the acquittal.

Drawing inspiration from the courage of ordinary people to keep fighting the good fight, De Lima cited the case of a Filipino mother who, despite losing her child to extrajudicial killings, reminded her to never give up amid times of injustice and adversity.

“I remember the mother who just lost her child to the drug war, telling me how she felt the hands of her only son slowly grew cold as he lay on the bloodied pavement. She said she knew her son wasn’t going to make it but she wanted to soothe his son’s pain, like she always did when he was little and had fever,” De Lima said.

“We were there in the receiving area of the detention center, with only the monotonous hum of the electric fan to break the silence between us, two mothers, both longing for their sons.  I will never forget when she said, we will fight, Sen. Leila, we will fight,” the lady Senator added.

While she has always considered herself as a strong-willed person, De Lima said it wasn’t until she became a victim herself that she learned and experienced first-hand “just how immensely, and potentially soul-crushingly difficult it is to continue fighting for myself against the most overwhelming of odds.”

“And yet, that, too, has been a gift of opportunity. For it is only when we ourselves are experiencing personal troubles that we can only ever prove that it is possible to fight for yourself without surrendering the commitment to continue fighting for others. It is only then that we truly know the depth and power of collective struggle,” she said.

“I first saw this in the women who first came to my rescue when I was being publicly shamed in Congress, in the relatives of EJK victims who vow to seek justice not only for their kin but for other victims, in the messages of hope young people sent to me, their maturity and courage defying their youthful scribbles,” she added.

Considering all these, De Lima said she believes that her story now belongs to a greater narrative of the struggle of ordinary people against social injustice.

“I can say now that I am learning life’s greatest lessons from them. And as we fight together, we also wait in anticipation for the day when we will all be vindicated and freed,” she said.

De Lima is still currently facing two bogus drug charges and has consistently maintained her innocence of all these cases. (30)

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