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No regrets: Leila de Lima seeks vindication, filing counter-charges an option

Former senator Leila de Lima on Monday said that while pursuing counter-charges against those behind her detention for drug charges is always an option, she is still discussing with her lawyers about definite plans to do so.

“Pinaguusapan namin yan ng mga abugado ko. Wala muna kaming mga specifics na mga pwedeng i-announce about that. There’s always that option, but as to definite plans, pinag-uusapan namin,” De Lima said in a briefing.

[My lawyers and I are talking about it. We don’t have specifics that we can announce about that. There’s always that option, but as to definite plans, we are talking about it.]

De Lima was earlier freed on bail, almost seven years after she was first detained in February 2017 under the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte, over allegations that she was involved in the drug trade. 

The former senator, a vocal critic of Duterte and his controversial war on drugs, hoped God would “forgive” and “bless” Duterte when asked for her message to the former president.  

“[M]essage ko kay President Duterte, isa lang: God forgive him and God bless him. ‘Yun na lang muna ‘yun,” De Lima said.

[I only have one message to President Durterte. God forgive him and God bless him. That’s all for now.]

“I don’t want to be political-sounding tonight because this is a moment of joy. This is a triumphant moment for me. So as much as possible, I want to be gracious. And so ‘yun na lang muna. God forgive him, and God Bless him. He knows what he did to me,” she added.

After being released from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame on Monday night, De Lima attended a press conference with Senator Risa Hontiveros.



Hontiveros could not help but shed tears as she extended her congratulations over the granting of the motion, saying it was a “big vindication” for the whole opposition.

“You continue to speak truth to power at kahit sinubukan niyang tambakan ka ng mga, ako na mag-sasabi, ng pekeng kaso. Hindi naman ikaw mag-sasabi. Na-survive mo lahat yan,” Hontiveros said.

(You continue to speak truth to power and even though they tried to pile on, I will be the one to say this, fake cases against you. You survived everything they threw at you.)

“And here you are. Here you are. So itong pagpapahayag sa wakas na naka post ka ng bail, at yung napipinta mong ganap na pag laya, ano eh, parang— parang sumilip na ulit yung sikat ng araw,” she added.

(This development that you were finally allowed to post bail, and your upcoming release, is like a ray of sunshine.)    

Meanwhile, De Lima said that in her more than six years of detention, she did not allow herself to entertain any regrets.

“Yes, I wished things turned out differently, but these are things that were beyond my control.  But for the things that were – what I did, how I reacted and my reasons for fighting for those who were victimized and cannot speak for themselves – I have no regret,” De Lima said.

The former Senator said she also remains with the opposition.

She said she would also work on her “complete vindication.”

“I will further work for complete vindication, because hindi pa nga tapos itong kaso na ito (This case hasn’t yet ended.). I want people to know the truth of my innocence. I want the people to know how it happened. I want people to know who is behind it. So in due time, because that’s vindication. Kasi maraming napaniwala noon (A lot of people were led to believe),” she said.

“It destroyed my life. It is time for me to rebuild my life now. They destroyed and ruined my name, my reputation. Now that I’m free, I’m going to work hard to redeem my name, and vindication, complete vindication, is the key,” she added.

De Lima’s first acquittal came in February 2021 when the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 205 junked one of her three cases.

On May 12, the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 acquitted de Lima and Ronnie Dayan, her co-accused and former bodyguard, of an illegal drug trading charge on the grounds of reasonable doubt.—RF, GMA Integrated News