De Lima on 'unjust detention' for 5 years: 'No regrets'

Despite being behind bars for five years, detained Senator Leila de Lima said she does not regret standing up to President Duterte's "inhumane policies" which she said had kept her in unjust detention for the past five years.

Senator Leila De Lima (Screengrab from VP Leni Robredo Facebook Page)

In an open letter to the Filipino people, De Lima said she is willing to endure the challenges brought about by her "political persecution" to fight against injustice and protect the interests of the public.

"Hindi ako nagnakaw sa bayan, hindi rin nagtaksil sa Konstitusyon, hindi umabuso sa mandato, at walang pagkukulang sa obligasyon sa buwis (I did not steal from the country nor betray the Constitution. I did not abuse my mandate nor was lacking in my tax obligations)," she said in her letter published in time of her detention on February 24.

"Malinis ang aking track record at paninilbihan sa bayan mula nang ako ay (I have a clear track record in serving the country from when I was) Chairperson Commission on Human Rights, Secretary Department of Justice, at ngayon bilang inyong Senador (and now as a Senator),” she added.

De Lima claimed that there was only one reason behind her imprisonment.

"Hindi ako nagpikit-mata sa extrajudicial killings at paggamit sa kapangyarihan ng Estado para abusuhin ang karapatang pantao (I didn't turn a blind eye on EJKs and the use of the power of the State for human rights abuses)," she said.

"Ginawan ako ng imbentong mga kaso at pinag-initan ng nasa Palasyo (They invented trumped up charges against me and the Palace is hot on my tail)," she added.

Despite this, De Lima said she regretted nothing about her actions.

"Wala po akong pagsisisi (I have no regrets)," she said.

"Handa akong indahin ang lahat ng persekusyon kung ito ang magiging papel ko sa ating bayan sa pagpapamulat na ang karapatang pantao ay para sa lahat, at ito ang pinakamataas na sagisag ng hustisya (I'm ready to endure all persecution if this is my role in opening the eyes of the people that human rights is for everyone and that it's the highest symbol of justice)," she added.

The staunchest critic of the administration’s war on drugs, De Lima has been behind bars for drug charges since February 24, 2017. She was already acquitted in one of her three cases.

Despite her lack of access to communication devices, De Lima has continued to speak out on injustices, human rights violations, and other national issues through her handwritten statements. She has also managed to fulfill her electoral mandate having passed into law meaningful legislation, and filed over 700 bills and resolutions.

De Lima, however, admitted that being detained for the past five years is challenging professionally and personally, but she said that she continues to draw strength from the people who continue to fight with and for her.

"Sa unang taon pa lang, libo-libong sulat na ang natanggap ko mula sa inyo, grupo man o indibidwal, at mga larawan ng pakikiisa at pagmamahal (In my first year in prison alone, I received thousands of letters from you, groups or individuals, and pictures of empathy and love)," she said.

"Pinaramdam ninyo sa akin na hindi ako nag-iisa, at hindi balewala ang mga sakripisyo (You made me feel that I'm not alone and that my sacrifice was worth it), she said.

As a reelectionist for the 2022 polls and is launching her campaign from prison, De Lima said she owes it to the Filipino people, especially her supporters, to give her best to secure victory and continue her advocacies. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)