As De Lima turns 60, family wishes for her freedom

Mara Cepeda
As De Lima turns 60, family wishes for her freedom
The family of Senator Leila de Lima also hopes the Senate would adopt the resolution that would allow her to join legislative proceedings via teleconferencing

MANILA, Philippines – The family of detained Senator Leila de Lima is praying she would soon be released from jail, where she is set to spend her 60th birthday on Tuesday, August 27.

Vicente de Lima, brother of the embattled opposition senator, said on Sunday, August 25, that their family wishes freedom for his sister on her birthday. (READ: De Lima to have ‘reunion’ with family, friends on 3rd birthday in detention)

“Patuloy na ipinagdadasal si Senator Leila de Lima, at ipinagdarasal din po namin na sana po ay makalaya na siya kasi po wala naman po siyang kasalanan do’n sa mga charge sa kanya (We continue to pray for Senator Leila de Lima and we hope she will be freed because the charges lodged against her are baseless),” Vicente de Lima told dzRH.  

He said the De Lima family is also hoping the Senate would adopt the resolution filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Panfilo Lacson calling on the chamber to allow De Lima to join their sessions through electronic communications.

“Sana po ay siya po ay mabigyan ng ganitong pagkakataon (We hope she will be given such an opportunity),” Vicente de Lima said.

Vicente de Lima said despite the two years his sister has spent in jail, the senator’s love for the country remains strong. 

De Lima has long been at odds with President Rodrigo Duterte. When she was still chief of the Commission on Human Rights, she pursued an investigation on the death squads allegedly led by Duterte, who was then the Davao City mayor.  When De Lima was elected senator in 2016, she kicked off a legislative inquiry into the new President’s bloody war on illegal drugs. 

Duterte’s allies retaliated by holding televised hearings of drug trafficking allegations against De Lima based on accounts of drug convicts who claimed to have dealt with her at the national penitentiary, through supposed emissaries, when she was justice secretary from 2010 to 2015. She denied all accusations.

On February 24, 2017, De Lima was sent to jail over multiple drug charges. (READ: ASEAN lawmakers: Free De Lima, drop charges vs opposition

Her allies will formally launch the Committee for Freedom of Leila de Lima at Club Filipino on Monday, August 26, which is also National Heroes’ Day. 

Among the prominent members of the committee are economist Solita Collas Monsod, former Ateneo School of Government dean Antonio La Viña, former peace process chief Teresita Deles, former De La Salle University president Bro. Armin Luistro, and former senator Rene Saguisag.  

They are set to read a joint statement from former senators in support of initiatives to allow her to participate in the plenary sessions and voting at the Senate. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.