Senator Leila de Lima: patriot, heroine
IT HAS BEEN over a year since Senator Leila de Lima was jailed by the Duterte administration on fake trumped-up charges. She fell victim to the "strong arm of the State and the President's [Duterte's] deeply-rooted vengeance against her".
“All those so-called witnesses who testified and will testify, linking me to the illegal drug trade have been pressured, threatened or otherwise induced and coached into lying. Kailangan nilang magsinungaling para sa pansariling pag-iingat o pangangalaga (self-preservation) at para rin sa kaligtasan ng sarili nila at ng kanilang mga pamilya at manatiling buhay. May mga trumabaho po sa kanila, sa utos na rin ni (President) Duterte,” Senator Leila de Lima said. [http://politics.com.ph]
A staunch critic of President Duterte, Senator de Lima has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February 2017 over allegations that she was involved in the Bilibid drug trade. Despite her incarceration, the Bilibid drugs trade appears to continue, belying the spurious charges against her. Drugs smuggling through the Bureau of Customs have continued unabated, apparently through what was called the Davao Group, with a huge shipment of PHP 6.4 billion having been recently the subject of a Senate investigation which fizzled out, and the drugs appear to have disappeared into the ether.
The Senator looked into the Davao Death Squad issues when she was still the Chair of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, when Rodrigo Duterte was still Mayor/Vice Mayor. When Duterte became President, he made it a point to hound and persecute de Lima, starting with harassing her with a fake sex video which they even wanted to show in Congress, which ended with jailed witnesses claiming they bribed de Lima over drugs, with a municipal judge then ordering her detention.
International parliamentarians and human rights advocates have called for her release, but these have fallen on deaf ears.
The DAMPi Coalition continues to believe in her innocence and will continue to campaign for her release.
[Photo by Ma Socorro Naguit] Here is DAMPi's statement in English on her one year in incarceration [Ma Socorro Naguit] -- STATEMENT of the Democratic Alliance Movement of the Philippines-International (DAMPi) on the First Anniversary of Sen. Leila S. De Lima's Incarceration On February 24, 2018, our beloved Sen. Leila S. De Lima shall have spent one full year in prison. She was arrested and jailed on the basis of allegations that she condoned, even abetted, the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison. She was imprisoned on the basis of the testimonies of convicted criminals/drug lords. Those convicts were of course under the power and control of the Department of Justice headed by Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. We know that it is a travesty of justice to make those convicts testify, because the fact that they are hardened criminals makes the veracity of their statements suspect. Anywhere in the world, their testimonies would not be acceptable, for the added reason that it would not be far-fetched that they could be offered freedom in exchange for their testimony, at the same time their safety and welfare inside the penitentiary could be compromised unless they gave testimonies favoring the Administration's intent. Furthermore, the testimonies that the convicts gave contradicted one another--always a sign of fabricated statements. Senator De Lima has been suffering throughout her nearly 365 days in prison. More so because up to now, her 85-year-old mother does not know her condition. "It pains me that she doesn't know my situation. It's really painful and I miss her, " the senator told the Philippine Star in an interview that appeared today(Feb. 13, 2018). Ironically, it is equally painful to think that the senator's 35-year-old son, who has "special needs", knows that his mom is behind bars. Over the past nearly 365 days, Senator De Lima has been a virtual symbol of our poor, suffering Motherland today. Her freedom was so arrogantly snatched from her, with utter impunity. The authorities did that after first humiliating her, besmirching her honor as a woman and as a human being--after making her a laughingstock in Congress and throughout the country. It was a humiliation shared by her siblings, her children, even her frail, unaware mother now in the sunset of her years. But as Senator De Lima said recently, "This fight is not mine alone. This fight is our fight for the victims of government’s failed war on drugs, especially for 7-year-old Saniño Butucan of Cebu, 5-year-olds Danica May Garcia of Pangasinan and Francisco Manosca of Pasay City, and 4-year-old Althea Fhem Barbon of Negros Oriental. Perpetrators of these hideous crimes have no conscience; even worse than them are those in power who allow these to happen)." As Sen. Leila S. De Lima's one full year in prison approaches, we in DAMPi (Democratic Alliance Movement of the Philippines) reiterate our impassioned appeal to the Duterte Administration: FREE LEILA DE LIMA! As we demand her release, we in DAMPi also stand our ground in calling upon this government to RESPECT THE CONSTITUTION and THE RULE OF LAW! President Duterte, PROVE to our people and to the rest of the world that the Philippines remains a TRUE DEMOCRACY under your watch! ****** Here is DAMPi's statement in Filipino [Ma Socorro Naguit]-- MENSAHE ng DAMPi sa Isang Taon na Pagkakakulong ni Sen. Leila S. De Lima Sa ika-24 ng Pebrero ay isang buong taon na pong nakakulong ang ating mahal na Senadora Leila S. De Lima. Siya po ay inaresto at ikinulong base sa mga testimonya ng mga napatunayang nagkasalang mga kriminal, mga preso sa Bilibid na hawak ng Department of Justice sa ilalim ni Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. Alam natin na isang kabalintunaan na gawing testigo ang mga presong iyon sapagkat ang karakter nila ay kwestyonable. Saan mang bansa hindi katanggap-tanggap ang testimonya nila sapagkat hindi malayong sila, bilang preso ay pinangakuan ng minimithing layà, kasabay ang bantâ rin sa kanilang búhay at kapakanan sa loob ng piitan. Bukod diyan, ang mga testimonyang ibinigay ng mga presong tumestigo ay salu-salungat, isang senyales ng pagsisinungaling. Nagdurusa po ang ating mahal na Senadora De Lima sa kulungan. Lalo na sa dahilang hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin po alam ng kanyang 85 taong gulang na ina ang kanyang sinapit. "Masakit sa akin na hindi alam ng Mommy ko ang aking sitwasyon. Masakit talaga, at hinahanap-hanap ko siya (It pains me that she doesn't know my situation. It's really painful and I miss her)," inamin ng senadora sa isang panayam sa Philippine Star kanina (Peb. 12, 2018) Sa kabilang dako, masakit ding isipin na ang 35 taong gulang na anak niyang lalaki, na may "special needs" o di pangkaraniwang mga pangangailangan,ay alam naman na ang kanyang Mommy ay nasa piitan. Sa tinitiis po ni Senadora De Lima sa loob ng nakalipas na mahigit tatlong daan at limampung araw ay masasabing mistulang kumakatawan siya sa ating kawawang Inang Bayan. Buong kapalaluan pong hinablot ang kalayaan ni Senadora De Lima. Yan ay matapos muna siyang ipinahiya, dinumihan ang pangalan at karangalan bilang babae at bilang isang tao, ginawang katatawanan sa Kongreso at sa buong kapuluan sa pamamagitan ng panghihiya sa kanya, sampu ng kanyang mga anak, mga kapatid, at inang mahina na at nasa takipsilim na ng kanyang buhay. Gaya ng nasabi ni Senadora De Lima kamakailan, "Ang laban na ito ay hindi laban ko lang. Ang labang ito ay laban natin para sa mga biktima ng bigong "war on drugs" ng gobyernong ito--lalo na para sa 7 taong gulang na si Sañino Butucan ng Cebu, 5 taong gulang na sila Danica May Garcia ng Pangasinan at Francisco Manosca ng Pasay City, at 4 na taong gulang na si Althea Fhem Barbon ng Negros Oriental. Ang mga nagsagawa ng mga kahila-hilakbot na mga krimen na ito ay mga walang konsyensya. At masahol pa sa kanila ang mga maykapangyarihan na pumapayag na mangyari ito. (This fight is not mine alone. This fight is our fight for the victims of government’s failed war on drugs, especially for 7-year-old Saniño Butucan of Cebu, 5-year-olds Danica May Garcia of Pangasinan and Francisco Manosca of Pasay City, and 4-year-old Althea Fhem Barbon of Negros Oriental. Perpetrators of these hideous crimes have no conscience; even worse than them are those in power who allow these to happen)." Kami sa koalisyong DAMPi (Democratic Alliance Movement of the Philippines-International) ay nananatiling nanawagan sa Pamahalaang Duterte: Palayain ang ating Mahal na Senadora Leila S. De Lima! Gayundin, patuloy kaming naninindigan na ang Batas at ang Konstitusyon ay nararapat igalang ng Pamahalaan, bilang patunay na tayo ay nasa isang tunay na Demokrasya! ***** DAMPi remains committed to campaigning for Senator de Lima's freedom, and will continue to lobby internationally and locally for this. DAMPI [Democratic Alliance Movement of the Philippines – International] Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org