De Lima readies for a slew of challenges in 2018

Mindful that the political persecution which she suffered for the past 313 days in detention can worsen this year, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima said she has already prepared herself for a more difficult 2018 in terms of her personal and public life.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said should her Motion for Reconsideration lodged before the Supreme Court (SC) in connection with the trumped-up illegal drug trade charge the government filed against her be denied, the trials could take its toll on her physical and emotional wellbeing.

"If my MR (motion for reconsideration) will be denied, the trial is expected to go on full swing. It will be physically and emotionally taxing because I intend to personally attend the hearings," she said in an interview inside her detention quarters at the Philippine National Police-Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

"It will be tough and difficult to repeatedly listen to perjured testimonies during those hearings. That's why as early as now, I should be able to psyche myself up to control my emotion when listening to lies because I expect to hear lies and more lies," she added.

The bogus complaints against De Lima- which made use of manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies of mostly convicted felons during the Congressional hearings - focused on illegal drug trading allegedly committed while she served as DOJ Secretary.

Last Oct. 10, the High Tribunal, voting 9-6, ruled against De Lima's petition to nullify the arrest warrant issued against her by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 for the trumped-up charge of illegal drug trade she allegedly committed while in public office.

In her 24-page MR on Nov. 3, De Lima said the High Tribunal should immediately rectify the continuing grave injustice committed against her because the majority of its members cannot even agree on the nature and cause of accusation against her.

Confused about their theory of the case, the government prosecutors eventually filed a Motion to Amend Information, substituting the original accusation from drug trading to conspiracy to trade illegal drugs.

De Lima said her family, friends, and her legislative staff are also expected to face a more challenging year ahead as they will in one way or the other be involved in this ordeal.

"I know that my family members and friends are worried about my situation but they continue to stay strong for me. In fact, they have to contend with the constantly changing rules in the detention facility and adhere to strict visiting hours;

just the thought of seeing me discuss things is already challenging because they have to adhere to visiting hours;

"The same goes at the (Senate) office. A lot of adjustments have to be made once the trials start," she added.

While she experiences a lot of challenges under the Duterte regime, De Lima said she tries to look at these harassments as ways to make her into a stronger person.

"While freedom from this most unjust detention is impossible or next to impossible as long as the vindictive President remains in power, one thing is sure: I will emerge from this ordeal, in the end, much stronger," she said.

"Vindication will come. (It's) sooner or later. I hold on to that and hope is one thing I cling to everyday," she added.

De Lima, touted as a "prisoner of conscience," has since maintained that there is no proof linking her to the alleged illegal drug trade but a mere manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies from convicted felons.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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