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On 4th Christmas in detention, De Lima hopes for freedom, vindication

As Senator Leila de Lima spends a 4th Christmas in “unjust” detention, she wishes to be freed and vindicated “from all the trumped-up drug charges” filed against her by the Duterte administration, her office said in a statement on Christmas Eve.

The opposition senator also wishes Filipinos will gain free access to COVID-19 vaccines, and that the “prevailing culture of violence and impunity” in the Philippines will end, her office added.

“I constantly wish for my freedom. This year, after finding the evidence weak and the testimonies against me without credibility as they are mainly perjured, I applied for bail in each of the 3 cases I’m facing since I was unjustly detained on 24 February 2017. It is my fervent prayer for my ailing mother to still be with us when I finally celebrate my vindication,” De Lima said, as relayed to reporters by her office.

“For our country, I wish that every Filipino will be given access to the COVID-19 vaccine so that all can move on from this pandemic without worrying for their health and safety,” she continued.

“Palagi ko ring ipinagdarasal na matigil na ang mga karahasan at pagpatay. Sa pag-usad ng ICC (International Criminal Court) investigation sa ating bansa, sana ay makamit na natin ang hustisya at pananagutan mula sa mapaniil na rehimen ni Duterte,” De Lima added.

(I always pray that the violence and killings would end. With the progress of the ICC investigation of our country, I hope we attain justice and accountability from Duterte’s oppressive regime.)

De Lima called on the public to honor COVID-19 frontliners, disaster responders, and people who have pitched in their help over the past year.

The senator will be celebrating Christmas “under a more restrictive environment” at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City because of COVID-19 protocols, her office said.

According to her lawyers, the trials of De Lima’s 3 drug cases have yielded no evidence to directly link her to drug trafficking in the New Bilibid Prison during her term as justice secretary leading up to the 2016 national elections, when she ran for senator.

Many local and international groups have called for De Lima's release, saying her cases are a form of political persecution for her investigation of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and extrajudicial killings. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.

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