De Lima fears being another ‘EJK victim’ once in prison

Camille Elemia

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De Lima fears being another ‘EJK victim’ once in prison
'I'm not asking [for] any special or VIP treatment. Basta ba siguraduhin lang nila na it's a safe and secure area,' says Senator Leila de Lima, as she expects to be arrested and detained soon

MANILA, Philippines – If there’s one wish Senator Leila de Lima has, it’s that she be put in a “safe and secure” prison or detention cell when she is arrested.

De Lima said this on Tuesday, February 14, as some of her supporters from the Every Woman group went to her office ahead of her supposed impending arrest.

“Sakali lang po mangyari na, God forbid, sana ilagay naman ako sa isang lugar na safe and secure ako. Kasi marami na hong nangyayari ‘di ba, pinapapatay sa loob ng selda, so what is another EJK?” De Lima said.

(If ever it happens, God forbid, I hope they put me in a place that is safe and secure. Because there are many things happening, many people are killed inside prison. So what is another EJK?)

De Lima is the staunchest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly war on drugs. She drew the ire of the President anew when she initiated a Senate probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings under his administration. Duterte, in turn, went all out against the senator, accusing her of being a drug coddler and vowing she would be jailed.

De Lima, however, has no “safe” location in mind yet. The senator said she is not requesting any special treatment, as she just wants to be secure wherever she will be detained, citing the case of former Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr who was killed inside prison.

“Pinagiisipan pa saan ‘yung safe. I don’t think I would be safe in a regular jail facility. I’m not asking [for] any special or VIP treatment. Basta ba siguraduhin lang nila na it’s a safe and secure area,” De Lima said.

(We are still thinking where I’ll be safe. I don’t think I would be safe in a regular jail facility. I’m not asking for any special or VIP treatment. They better make sure that it’s a safe and secure area.)

Asked where possible threats could come from, she said: “It can be from anywhere. Kasi parati naman akong may threats. ‘Yung kay Mayor Espinosa, ‘yung mga wala pa ring katapusan [na patayan] (Because I’m always receiving threats. The case of Mayor Espinosa, the endless extrajudicial killings), and I’m being tagged as Bilibid drug trade queen, tagged as public enemy number one of Solicitor General [Jose] Calida, so you can never tell if there are groups interested in eliminating me.”

Despite such fears, De Lima said she would not resist arrest.

“Wala naman akong magagawa (I cannot do anything), I am morally and psychologically resisting it, because I’m innocent. But physically, I cannot resist,” the senator said.

“‘Di po ako tatakas, ‘di po ako magtatago, ‘di po ako pupunta ng ospital, ‘di po ako mag-wi-wheelchair o mag-ne-neck brace. Wala po akong gagawin na gano’ng istilo,” De Lima said, referring to the common “style” of politicians who are facing charges.

(I will not escape, hide, or go to a hospital. I will not be in a wheelchair or wear a neck brace. I will not resort to such tactics.)

She then jokingly told her supporters: “Puwede ‘nyo po ako samahan sa loob ng presinto at magbantay sa labas. Pero ‘wag na sa kulungan. Bisitahin ‘nyo na lang po ako.” (You can join me inside the detention facility and just stand guard outside my cell. But not inside my cell. Just visit me.)

The supporters present included former Social Welfare secretary Corazon Soliman, former Peace Process adviser Teresita Deles, former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales, and former Civil Service Commission chairperson Karina David, among others. –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.