Leila de Lima gains growth and strength during incarceration

Inquirer.net November 25,2023 - 12:20 PM

FREE AND PRAYED OVER. Former Sen. Leila de Lima (kneeling) is prayed over by members of the clergy, led by Bishop Teodoro Bacani, during a Thanksgiving Mass at the Edsa Shrine in Quezon City on Friday, 11 days after her release on bail from Camp Crame. —LYN RILLON

Former Sen. Leila de Lima on Friday recalled her nearly seven-year life in detention as a “period of immense personal growth,” where she found immeasurable strength.

In her speech during the Thanksgiving Mass at the Edsa Shrine, the Swnator said her incarceration deepened her spiritual faith even in the face of uncertainty.

“Even those spiritual sessions [in jail] were constrained by time … I had to schedule my intimate sessions with God just as I scheduled everything else in my life,” she told the audience made up mainly of her friends and supporters.

De Lima described herself as “a very strong-willed person, both in my private and professional life, but being in detention made her discover in herself “resilience and strength, which I never knew I could still possess.”

READ: Roque, Aguirre cry possible judge bias in De Lima’s bail approval

She continued: “I came to understand that even in the darkest times, God’s light never fails and his love truly endures.”

On her first day as a free woman, she went to pray at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan.

The former justice secretary, who was on her 12th day of being out on bail while her third and final drug case remains pending at a Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court, expressed gratitude to her spiritual advisers and her family and friends, whom she deemed “defenders of truth.”

Fr. Robert Reyes, one of the Mass concelebrants, thanked De Lima for her “unwavering commitment to truth” that would pave the way for “clarity and dignity” of people like her who are victims of political persecution.

“The Lord gave you back to your people stronger, braver and a truer daughter of the Lord and the motherland,” Reyes said in his speech, addressing De Lima. “Thank you Leila and welcome back.”

READ: De Lima to Duterte: ‘It’s reckoning time’

Reyes noted how De Lima’s legal battle “forged a solidarity that expanded and deepened over the years.”

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr., one of the figures in the Catholic Church who publicly criticized the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, likened the Senator’s plight to martyrs and heroes.

READ: LOOK: De Lima reunites with 91-year-old mother in a Cam Sur hospital

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TAGS: incarceration, Leila De Lima, Philippine politics

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