By Mario Casayuran
Detained Sen. Leila M. de Lima expressed nothing less for the country but an end to the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) that arose from the administration’s bloody war against the multibillion-peso drugs trade.
More than any material present, lasting peace and safety could still be the best gift every Filipino can receive on Christmas, de Lima, a former Justice secretary of the Aquino administration, said.
“Christmas is indeed one of the most anticipated holidays in the Philippines where Filipino families traditionally spend time together over good food and good stories. But may we also remember that Christmas this year, as with last year, brings sadness and grief to many of our countrymen who will not be with their loved ones killed in (President) Duterte’s drug war,” she said.
“This season is the perfect time for the government to heed people’s call to end the killings in the country to prevent more casualties, and remember that the campaign against illegal drugs should be based on human rights and the rule of law. Christmas, after all, is best spent if family members remain intact and complete,” she added.
The unofficial death tally ranges from 7,000 t0 13,000.
President Duterte vowed to continue his unrelenting war against illegal drugs until the end of his term.
A staunch advocate for human dignity, de Lima initiated a Senate investigation into the spate of EJKs under the administration’s war on drugs barely two weeks after she assumed office, and she continues to speak up against the injustices happening in the country until now.
De Lima said her Christmas wish is to be vindicated from all the trumped-up illegal drug charges filed against her by the vengeful Duterte regime.
She said part of her vindication means regaining her old, normal life.
“I miss those days where I can do the simple things that make me happy, like going to the wet market, cooking, and driving on top of doing my regular duties as a public servant,’’ she explained.
In detention, de Lima maintained she has grown closer to God and now has more time to read the Bible, along with other books that were given to her by friends and supporters who visited her.
She will be celebrating her first Christmas Day inside the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame, Quezon City, on Dec. 25 to be joined by family, relatives and friends.
She already confirmed that she, as with other PNP Custodial Center detainees, were granted visits from family and relatives on Christmas eve, December 24, until 1 a.m. the following day and on December 25, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
De Lima is hoping this would be her first and last Christmas in detention.