On her 3rd year of unjust detention, De Lima identifies self as ‘free’ and ‘defender’



Opposition Senator Leila de Lima is marking her third year of illegal arrest and unjust detention identifying herself not as a victim or survivor or fighter, but as a defender.

“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,” De Lima said in a statement.

“Thus, I am not a victim. I am not merely a survivor. I am not just a fighter. I am a defender,” she added in her Keynote Address at the recent “International Forum on Lawfare: Weaponizing the Law vs Democratic Dissent” last February  21.

Wishing the over a thousand local and foreign legal experts, human rights advocates, democracy defenders and students an “empowering day”, in a message read by her youngest brother Vicente “Vicboy” de Lima II vowed to fight the weaponization of law.

De Lima has remained feisty, saying that she continues to fight using truth, reason, and compassion –  “the three things that my oppressors lack in themselves and fear most in those they oppress.”

Noting that the weaponization of law, especially against political enemies, is not new, she welcomed this “gathering of the brave. Brave enough to share their experiences as victims of lawfare.

“Brave enough to face the reality that the weaponization and bastardization of the law cannot truly take root and overtake justice as its twin pillar without the complicity or, at the very least, the passive acquiescence of the people,” she pointed out.

De Lima also vowed “up to my very last breath and to the very last words I utter, I will make everything I do count as a counterattack against the weaponization of Law, and a defense of democracy, the Rule of Law and, most of all, the sovereignty and welfare of the Filipino people.”

For condemning and investigating Duterte’s deadly drug war, the lady Senator from Bicol was subjected to misogynous congressional hearings and later to politically motivated and trumped-up illegal drug trading charges.

In February 24, 2017, it may be recalled that De Lima presented herself to authorities. For her continuing detention, she has been referred to as a “prisoner of conscience” by numerous international human rights organizations.

Before her election as senator, De Lima was an election lawyer, a chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, and a justice secretary./Stacy Ang

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