MANILA, Philippines – Monday, February 24, marks the 3rd year of Senator Leila de Lima’s detention over alleged drug charges. (READ: From power to prison: How 2017 changed the life of De Lima, family)
In a statement on Sunday, February 23, the detained senator said, “I don’t know for how long I will remain unjustly detained, but I do know one thing for certain: my will to fight for what is right remains undeterred and, in fact, is validated and reinvigorated by recent developments and successes.”
One of these successes, she said, was the international forum called “Lawfare: Weaponizing the Law vs Democratic Dissent,” held on Friday, February 21, where De Lima was a keynote speaker.
In her keynote speech, delivered by her youngest brother Vicente “Vicboy” de Lima II, she said: “Today, I declare myself free. For though I may be physically detained, my mind is freer than it has ever been; my dignity is intact; and my will to fight to protect the freedom and interests of the Filipino people is stronger than ever. Thus, I am not a victim. I am not merely a survivor. I am not just a fighter. I am a defender.”
The detained senator also vowed to fight back against the “weaponization of law” and to defend democracy, the rule of law, and the sovereignty and welfare of the Filipino people.
De Lima surrendered to the Philippine National Police in February 2017, less than a week after the Department of Justice filed charges against her for allegedly receiving drug money from convicts back when she was justice secretary.
De Lima has denied the allegations against her, denouncing them as part of political persecution by the Duterte administration.
On December 23, 2019, United States President Donald Trump approved a provision in the 2020 US budget that denied entry to those involved in De Lima’s detention. Philippine officials dismissed the sanction, saying her detention was lawful. – Rappler.com