Missing Lent in hometown, ‘crucified’ De Lima to spend week in silent reflection

Tarra Quismundo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 13 2017 10:28 AM

Senator Leila De Lima waves from a police van after appearing at a Muntinlupa court on drug charges in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Erik de Castro, Reuters

MANILA - Embracing her "kalbaryo," detained Sen. Leila de Lima will spend Holy Week in silent reflection even as she is set to miss her hometown’s Good Friday procession for the first time in five decades.
 
De Lima, a devout Catholic, said in a note from detention this week that she will be on a “sabbatical within a sabbatical” over Lent as she reflects on the events that led to her incarceration.

“Beginning Wednesday evening, and up to Easter Sunday morning, I would prefer to be alone. I shall entertain no visitors as I intend to spend more time for prayers and reflections. I’ll be on a sabbatical within a sabbatical,” De Lima told ABS-CBN News in a letter.

De Lima said she would only welcome company on Good Friday, when her youngest brother Vicente and spiritual adviser Fr. Robert Reyes are expected to come to join her in doing the Stations of the Cross in her detention quarters.

The devotion, observed by Catholics during Holy Week, follows 14 steps on Jesus Christ’s way to crucifixion.

“That should be the closest thing to a procession,” De Lima said, responding to an ABS-CBN News query.

“This is my reflection: I’m carrying a cross now and going through a crucifixion. In carrying my cross, I feel no disgrace or regret at all, but a renewed and fortified spirit to fight to the end,” said De Lima, the highest elected official so far detained on drug charges under the Duterte administration.

De Lima had earlier expressed hopes to be released before the Holy Week, so she could participate in her family’s annual Good Friday devotion in her native Iriga City in Bicol. Her court petitions seeking to undo her arrest, however, remain pending.

“It looks like that my wish to be freed in time for the Holy Week is now illusory. Only a miracle can change that,” said De Lima, who had annually attended the Friday procession at the Our Lady of Fatima Parish in her hometown.

De Lima said her family has under its care the Santo Entierro, the image of the dead Christ, “which is among several icons that parishioners would pay homage to every Good Friday.” The 57-year-old lawmaker grew up to such devotion, taking part in Holy Week rites since she was a toddler.

The lawmaker is into her second month of incarceration at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center as she faces trial over non-bailable drug charges.

Her fate represents one of the biggest ironies yet seen under the new administration: one of the fiercest critics of President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs is herself accused of being “the mother of all drug lords.”

The charges reached the court months after Duterte himself first publicly accused De Lima of drug involvement in August last year.

Several high-profile convicts have accused her of collecting drug money from illicit operations at the New Bilibid Prison during her time as Justice secretary, purportedly to fund her 2016 Senate bid.

She has asserted innocence, saying the allegations were part of the administration’s efforts to take revenge for her vocal criticism of Duterte’s policies, particularly extra-judicial killings in his drug war.

De Lima, former Commission on Human Rights chair, had long drawn Duterte’s ire for her investigation into his links to the Davao Death Squad.

Throughout her ordeal, De Lima has turned to prayers to quiet her mind and seek strength.