De Lima receives rosary from Pope Francis


A “deeply, deeply touched” Senator Leila De Lima on Sunday, November 26, said she received a rosary from Pope Francis.

In a statement, the detained senator said the Philippine National Police (PNP) chaplain personally handed her the gift enclosed with a letter from the Pope last Wednesday, November 22.

“This gift will constantly remind me that, despite the political persecution I am experiencing right now at the hands of a vengeful president, I should keep the faith and fight tirelessly for the welfare of the Filipino people,” she said.

She also described the rosary as “beautiful.”

De Lima, a top critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February 2017 for her alleged involvement in the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice Secretary from 2010 to 2015.

The senator said she sent the Pope a letter before her 58th birthday August to ask him to pray for her and the Filipino people.

Calling herself Duterte’s “political prisoner,” the senator also asked the Pope’s blessing to give the the “strength to continue the fight against the injustice that is happening not only to me, but to thousands of Filipinos who are victims of extrajudicial killing.”

“According to the Chaplain, Pope Francis was able to read my letter and assured that he is praying for me,” De Lima said.

Commenting on Pope Francis’ giving of a rosary to De Lima, Duterte on Tuesday, November 28 joked about showing the pontiff the senator’s alleged sex video.

Without mentioning De Lima, Duterte said said in jest that he would show the Pope a “video” that would prod him to step down from the papacy should he watch it.

“Tapos ‘yung isa, ‘yung hambog binigyan pa ng rosary ni Pope (Then one of them, the arrogant one, was even given a rosary by the Pope),” the president said during an anti-corruption summit in Pasay City.

“Si Pope naman o… Hanapan mo nga ako ng video ng ano, pakita ko kay Pope. Baka magtingin pa si Pope, baka umalis pa sa pagka-Pope yan (Find me that video. Once the Pope sees it, he may leave the papacy),” he added.

Duterte did not elaborate on the video he was referring to, but De Lima was rumored to have had a sex video with her former driver Ronnie Dayan—which the senator denied.

The president later clarified that he was just joking. He, however, warned that he could also use his right to freedom of expression to criticize the Pope back.

“That’s a joke. Aabot ng ano ‘yan (It might reach them). I am joking, Pope. If you criticize me, I can criticize you ten times over,” Duterte said.

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