Former senator Leila De Lima gave her first television interview to two Cignal TV news channels Tuesday, just a day after her release from detention at the PNP Custodial Center.
Live via phone patch, De Lima first appeared on One PH’s Sa Totoo Lang with Jove Francisco, who was joined by Ed Lingao, Manny Mogato, and former presidential political adviser turned analyst Ronald Llamas.
On her decision to visit the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag on Tuesday morning despite security concerns, De Lima shared, “Before my incarceration, mga twice a month ako pumupunta ng Manaog. Nagsisimba ako doon every other Sunday at 9 o’clock kung wala akong ibang commitment. I was already a justice secretary noon. So I cannot ever break that promise kaya iniyakan ko, kaya pumayag na sila.”
When asked whether she has forgiven former President Rodrigo Duterte, who relentlessly attacked her during his administration, De Lima said: “God forgive him, God bless him, kasi sa mga pinaggagawa niya sa akin. He knows exactly what he did to me. So dapat he must acknowledge the gravity, the grave injustice, the travesty of justice, ‘yung pang-aapi niya so kailangan siya talagang humingi ng kapatawaran hindi lang sa akin, kung hindi sa mahal na Panginoon.”
“Sinasabi ito sa mga kaibigan ko, ‘Lahat ng mga may atraso sa akin na had a hand in placing me in jail, hindi lang ‘yung mga naging witnesses, ‘yung mga nagpagamit, ‘yung mga operators, ‘yung mga lumapit dyaan sa mga witnesses na ‘yan, actually mga pinatawad ko na mga ‘yan matagal na.’ Isa na lang ang hindi ko mapatawad. But I’ve praying that I’d be given a grace that one day I can forgive him. So in the meantime, ang Diyos na lang muna ang magpatawad sa kanya,” she added.
De Lima shared that she’s currently in discussions with her legal team to determine the cases to be filed against Duterte, while also revealing her intention to go after former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, who, according to former Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos, coerced him into linking De Lima to the illegal drug trade.
“Napakalaking option ‘yan na gagawin namin because as you said, it’s really about justice. Iba ‘yun,” she said. “Kahit pinatawad mo na halimbawa ang isang tao, kailangan mo pa rin na makamit ‘yung hustisya. It’s a matter of justice na mayroon talagang reckoning dahil biniktima nila ako.”
On the political side, De Lima was also asked about her future plans now that we are nearing the 2025 midterm elections. “Wala pa akong iniisip tungkol dyaan,” she said. “I have so many things to do. I have so many things to really consider, mga options like returning to law practice, returning to teaching. But return to the political world, hindi ko pa iniiisip ‘yan.”
Later that night, De Lima was also interviewed by Gretchen Ho and Shawn Yao on One News’ The Big Story. Asked to comment on Senator Imee Marcos’ statement that the approval of her bail demonstrated the independence of the Philippine judiciary, suggesting that there’s no need for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to meddle in our own justice system, De Lima responded firmly, “There is a complete lack of domestic accountability.”
“The problem in respect to that issue is that we do not see any investigation being made by any local authority of those considered to be responsible for those extrajudicial killings under the war on drugs. Nothing. None. None of our institutions. None of our investigating bodies of the government is investigating Duterte or his chief enforcer – the former PNP chief, now Senator Bato Dela Rosa,” she said.
Watch the interviews below: