OPPOSITION Sen. Leila de Lima marked the first year of what she described as “illegal arrest and unjust detention” over her alleged involvement in drug trafficking.
De Lima surrendered to authorities on February 24, 2017 and was detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center on drug charges.
The senator allegedly helped the proliferation of drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was still justice secretary. De Lima denied the accusation.
She labelled her detention as “an obvious form of political persecution by no less than President (Rodrigo) Duterte and his minions” since the government could not present enough evidence to support its drug case against her.
De Lima has been critical of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, claiming that this has led to a spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs).
She welcomed the day by hearing Holy Mass inside her cell with her family, friends, colleagues and supporters who expressed solidarity with her.
De Lima, a member of the Senate minority bloc, continues to fulfill her legislative mandate despite her detention. She has filed 41 bills and 58 resolutions of national importance.
Although behind bars, de Lima continues to receive awards and recognitions from different international bodies for her apparent “unwavering commitment to uphold democratic principles and promote justice, human rights and the rule of law.”
She was included in the Foreign Policy’s “50 Leading Global Thinkers of 2017” in December 2017 and received the “Prize for Freedom” Award by Liberal International (LI) on October 2017. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO