By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Leila M.de Lima said Wednesday her being designated as chairperson of the Senate social justice, welfare and rural development committee last June is good enough as an early present for the Christmas season.
De Lima has been detained for the past two years on drug-related charges at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center at Camp Crame, Quezon City. She has time and again reiterated her innocence and blamed President Duterte for her incarceration.
The senator said she feels blessed to have the opportunity to craft more legislative measures that are geared towards promoting the welfare and protecting the rights of the Filipino people, especially the vulnerable.
“Aside from considering my chairmanship as an early Christmas present, I also see it as a blessing because it gave me a sense of fulfillment considering that it pushed me to file very meaningful bills and resolutions aimed at improving the plight of the poor,” she said.
“After all, how can helping the poor, the marginalized and the disadvantaged be meaningless? It is actually good for the soul,” she added.
Under her chairmanship, the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development has reported out for plenary debate six legislative measures generally aimed at improving the plight of Filipino families.
The six measures that were submitted for floor deliberations include Senate Bill (SB) 2111 (Public Solicitation Act), SB 2117 (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps Act), SB 2118 (Magna Carta for Child Development Workers), SB 2119 (Rural Employment Assistance Program Act), SB 2121 (Magna Carta of the Poor) and SB 1986 (National Rotary Day Act).
Despite her continued unjust detention and political persecution by the Duterte regime, De Lima said her duty to the country and her countrymen as an elected senator of the republic always reminds her “to never quit” and continue her fight in pursuit of justice and human rights.
“I always remind myself to never lose zest for life, to never lose the fire within me, and to never see quitting as an option regardless of my situation because there are millions of Filipinos out there who need to be inspired,” she said.
“And now that I can imagine unlimited potential for more social justice legislative initiatives, I told my legislative staff to maximize crafting measures and conduct intensive research on possible areas of legislation so my countrymen can look forward to a better 2019,” she added.
Like last year, De Lima said she wishes nothing less for her country but an end to the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and accountability from the people responsible for the unyielding murders under the government’s war on drugs.
“The best gift this government can give to the Filipinos is an end to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatments of its people,” she stressed. “The government should work on preventing more casualties and base its campaign against illegal drugs on human rights and the rule of law.’’
De Lima’s family is expected to spend her second Christmas day in detention with her family, some close friends and several staff members in a simple lunch inside the PNP custodial center.