Occasional visits from friends in the government help lift the spirits of Senator Leila M. de Lima, who is always glad to welcome well-wishers in her detention facility at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
In her 117th Dispatch from Crame, De Lima expressed elation over the visit of former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman and former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Ging Deles, two of her previous colleagues in the Aquino Cabinet.
“Each visit from these fine, kind-hearted women would, invariably, buoy up my spirit, as we reminisce about the good, not-so-old days of feeling proud and privileged working for a decent and honest Chief Executive,” she said.
“We also talk about current issues and events, sharing feedbacks and insights on the goings-on in the current bureaucracy. And as we do that, we can’t help heaving a collective sigh of consternation—what have we done wrong as a people to deserve this nightmare of a twisted governance?” she added.
The Senator, a known human rights defender, noted that although the three of them are saddened with the happenings in the present administration, they all share hope and optimism about the better future for the Philippines.
De Lima was arrested on trumped-up charges fabricated by the Duterte administration due to her continued opposition to its murderous drug on war, and the former Davao Mayor’s personal vendetta against her.
With no television, cellphones or any electronic devices allowed in her detention center, De Lima is locked in her cell with stray cats as her only company.
She gets support from regular visits with her family, staff, and friends, as she tried to carry on with her Senate duties.
The former justice secretary said she feels honored to be associated with Soliman and Deles, both of whom, she pointed out, are strong and selfless women with deep commitment in their respective core advocacies.
“Secretary Dinky for championing the rights and welfare of the poor and underprivileged, including street children and abused children, and Secretary Ging for her visionary push for a genuine peace process—while acclaimed by the academic and professional sectors, and foreign institutional partners, have largely been unheralded by the general populace,” she said.
Soliman and Deles, like De Lima, are passionate advocates for women’s rights and human dignity, and the Senator maintained that any good President would be lucky to have them in their Cabinet.
As one of the women defenders who continue to uphold human rights, despite the vicious gender-based attacks against her, De Lima was recognized by Amnesty International (AI) as one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders this year.
De Lima said she misses all her colleagues in the Aquino Cabinet, especially then President Aquino III who visited her a few months ago.