MANILA — While aspirants for national and local positions in the 2022 elections have started personally wooing voters ahead of the start of the official campaign period in February next year, even amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Leila de Lima eyes winning a fresh mandate from inside a detention facility.
A fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, De Lima has been locked up in Camp Crame since February 2017 over what she calls politically motivated charges of narcotics trafficking.
Because of the situation she is in, an impersonator dubbed “Slay-la De Lima” has been going, in her place, to the meet and greet events of the Senate ticket under opposition standard-bearer Vice President Leni Robredo and running-mate Sen. Kiko Pangilinan.
“Slay-la”, also know as Roxanne Reid, said the name of De Lima's alter ego implies that the senator “slays” the bad guys just like in movies.
"Naniniwala ako na walang kasalanan ang senadora dahil 'di naman lingid sa kaalaman ng lahat na wala namang matibay na ebidensya sa mga kasong binabato sa kanya," Reid said.
"It it is such a privilege na maging 'Slayla De Lima'. I feel like I also have the gift of voice na ipaalam sa lahat kung sino at ano nga ba ang ang senadora at ang kaniyang estado."
(I believe the senator did not commit any wrongdoing because everyone knows there is no strong evidence in the cases against her. It is such a privilege to be 'Slayla De Lima.' I feel like I also have the gift of voice to inform everyone about who the senator is and what her state is.)
Aside from “Slay-la”, a standee of the detained lawmaker can also be seen in events beside her official representatives speaking on stage, including her niece Leli Seranilla, chief of staff Atty. Fhillip Sawali, and spokesperson Atty. Dino de Leon.
During each event, a personal message from De Lima is read to the crowd by her representatives.
De Lima stresses in her hand-written messages called “Dispatches from Camp Crame” that despite her detention for more than four years, she continues to fulfill her mandate addressing human rights issues, corruption, and poverty.
Laws and resolutions passed by De Lima include the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Institutionalization Act and the Magna Carta of the Poor Act, according to her office.
“Marami pa tayong plano. Marami pa tayong magagawa. Sa tulong ninyo, at sa liderato ni VP Leni at Sen. Kiko, nais kong ituloy ang ating magagandang nasimulan at adbokasiya. Sabi nga ni VP Leni, lalaban ako, lalaban tayo," De Lima said in a message read in Cavite.
(We still have a lot of plans. We can do more. With your help and the leadership of VP Leni and Sen. Kiko, I want to continue the good things we started and our advocacy. As VP Leni said, I will fight, we will fight.)
Aside from her detention, the lack of campaign funds poses another obstacle for De Lima, said her chief of staff.
“The only way we can offset the lack of money is by being more open and inclusive in our campaign by, say, encouraging more in 'sweat equity' from volunteers, friends and allies,” said Sawali.
The last jailed candidate who won a Senate seat was Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy officer who was detained for his inclusion in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Trillanes, who was first elected senator in 2007, is seeking a Senate comeback also under Robredo's slate.
With “Slay-la”, her standee and and her spokespersons, De Lima is hoping to get re-elected despite her incarceration.
“Kaisa ninyo ako sa hangaring ibalik ang makatao, mahusay at mabuting pamamahala sa ating lipunan. Ako si Leila De Lima: Palaban para sa pamilyang Pilipino. Dumadama. Dumadamay. Lumalaban,” said the former human rights commission chief.
(I am one with you in the desire to bring back humane, excellent, and good governance in our society. I am Leila De Lima: a fighter for the Filipino family, someone who feels, empathizes, and defies.)