MANILA, Philippines – "Two years in jail. How many more years shall I endure?"
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Sunday, February 24, commemorated her second year in detention with friends, family, and political allies.
A Mass, officiated by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, was held inside the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame. Fathers Robert Reyes, Albert Alejo, and Flavie Villanueva also celebrated the Mass.
In his homily, Pabillo prayed for the people's strength to "continue to resist."
De Lima, in a message, said she does not know when the injustice will end but she vowed to continue the fight.
"How many more years shall I endure? Nobody knows. I want to be confident but I can't be sure I can be confident," De Lima said.
"The vengeful Mr Duterte may be successful in confining me in these isolated quarters in Camp Crame for two years now, but he also failed to stop me from fulfilling my public duties in the last two years, and he will continue to fail to do such in the days to come," she said.
Someday, De Lima said she might be able to forgive her enemies. But she would rather not forget, as to forget is "to surrender [her] humanity."
In time for her second year in jail, De Lima also released her third book titled Dispatches from Crame II: Faith, Hope, and Love, a compilation of her handwritten statements.
According to her staff, De Lima's son Israel, sister Caroline, brother Vicente, as well as their other relatives, were all present. (READ: From power to prison: How 2017 changed the life of De Lima, family)
Opposition senatorial bets Chel Diokno and Bam Aquino, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senator Francis Pangilinan also showed support for their ally.
In an interview outside the Custodial Center, Pangilinan said De Lima was happy and was "making the most out of the situation."
"Matapang pa rin. Mukhang hindi nakikita ang anumang kahinaan ng loob. At narito tayo para ipakita natin na 'di natin siya nakakalimutan, na patuloy na ipinaglalaban na darating ang araw na siya ay makakalaya rin siya sa kanyang detention," Pangilinan told reporters.
(She's still brave. You can't see any tinge of weakness in her. We are just here for her to show her that we will not forget, that we will continue to fight for the day when she will finally be free from detention.)
De Lima's colleagues in the Aquino Cabinet were also there: former social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman, former peace adviser Ging Deles, former education secretary Brother Armin Luistro, and former communications secretary Ricky Carandang.
De Lima, President Rodrigo Duterte's fiercest critic, was arrested on February 24, 2017, over drug charges, which she said were fabricated by the government. (READ: De Lima in jail: 'I never imagined Duterte would be this vindictive') – Rappler.com