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De Lima not ready to run for public office, will focus on rebuilding Liberal Party

De Lima said running for public office would be “so daunting” and not on her checklist at the moment.

Jul 5, 2024

Valerie Joyce Nuval

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3-minute read

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Photo by Bullit Marquez

Leila de Lima, former senator, justice secretary, and a beacon of strength to many, is resisting calls for her to run for the Senate in 2025 after languishing in detention on trumped up charges for more than six years.

“I know that many have seen me as some symbol of courage and resilience, but then ‘yung pagsabak ulit sa politika (going back to politics), I’m not sure if ready na ako diyan because ‘yung pinagdaanan ko nga (because of what I have gone through),” she told VERA Files’ senior editor Tress Martelino-Reyes during the July 3 episode of the Tres from Tress podcast.  

The 64-year-old human rights advocate whose last case has been dismissed only for over a week said running for public office would be “so daunting” and not on her checklist at the moment.  She expressed gratitude for the support she has been receiving, describing them as “heartwarming” and “humbling.” 

However, she would rather focus on her work as spokesperson of the Liberal Party (LP) and the rebuilding of its lost glory.  Many LP members left after the party’s devastating loss in the  2022 national  elections and in the 2019 mid-term polls.

De Lima and some hard core liberals, however, insist they are the legitimate opposition and are determined to regain the party’s power and dominance in the country’s political landscape. The LP is currently forming new chapters and expanding its base, conducting social media engagement training and reaching out to the masses. 

“We want to work double time in terms of rejuvenating ourselves and in terms of rebuilding…. ‘Yung mabago, ma-undo ‘yung mga false narratives about the LP (To change, undo the false narratives about the LP),” she explained.

For family and the opposition

Family is also a big reason for De Lima’s reluctance to make another run for public office. After all, they were witness to what she went through – from the years of unjust incarceration that kept her away, to the 2022 hostage-taking inside prison that she thought was her “end,” to facing all the black propaganda hurled at her led by former president Rodrigo Duterte. 

“Then I’d be, again, bracing myself for resurgence na naman ng (again of) black propaganda against me. Magiging favorite target na naman ako ng mga trolls. And iniisip ko pamilya ko. Ganun na naman ang mangyayari (I will be the favorite target of trolls once again. I am thinking of my family. That’s going to happen again)…So it’s not easy,” the former Commission on Human Rights chairperson explained.

Admittedly, she feels “pressured” as the filing of the certificate of candidacy for next year’s mid-term elections draws nearer, eventually clarifying that she is “not ruling out anything” yet. 

She asked for prayers, the same ones she held onto in prison until she walked free. 

De Lima said she always ends her prayers with the line – “Thy will be done.” Maybe that’s how her final decision will be on running for office again..

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