A Nation in Crisis: A Call to Speak up for the Truth


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On the Rotary Club of Manila’s

Weekly General Membership Meeting

Manila Polo Club, Forbes Park, Makati City

September 1, 2016

Thank you very much for those very warm and gracious words. I’d like to say that you’re one of the few who have publicly remember and acknowledge who the real Leila de Lima is and what she stands for amidst the daily vicious attacks against her person and integrity.

I want to acknowledge some of you here, but I guess, in the interest of time and I don’t want to be accused of a sin of ommission, but  I do see a lot of familiar faces, very prominent faces. And I must tell you that when I came in, I was a bit intimidated by the crowd. But easily, it was transformed into a feeling of warmth. I felt easily a positive vibes from all of you especially the unexpected birthday greetings and song. So I’m one year older, but wiser.

Thank you so much. And my apologies for coming in a bit late, I came from a committee hearing on the anti-wiretapping law of the Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs so I have to excuse myself from the Chair so I could catch up to this event.

Thank you so much. It is my pleasure and honor to be here. In fact, yesterday when I asked one of my staff, or when one of my staff reminded me that I have this speaking engagement with you today, I asked: “Is it still on, are you sure I am still invited there as a guest of honor and guest speaker? Because I know that your invitation was few weeks back? So I said, is it still a go?

“Oh, yes ma’am, they are quite excited to see you because you are the only guest there, you are the guest speaker.”  Pardon me for making sure if I am still invited to this forum because of everything that’s happening. I know that some of you, if not many of you, have this trust in me as a public servant. But with everything that’s happening to me, with all the dirt being thrown at me, I am not sure anymore whether the same impression that you have is still there. But I’m sure, it is still there given the very warm welcome that you gave me. I sincerely thank you, I am deeply moved.

I am so excited really to come over and I want really to express my thoughts.

May I just say: Earlier in the month, I was invited to speak in a testimonial dinner for new lawyers. Also this month, I was invited to attend a National Breakfast Day where I was asked to give a message. This event is my second speaking engagement which takes place during lunchtime, whenever I became a Senator, this is the second time.

Pansin ko lang po, nasasabay sa mga kainan ang imbitasyon sa akin. Kunsabagay, naging ugali na natin ang mag-usap-usap habang kumakain— depende nga lang sa pinag-uusapan, kung gaganahan ba tayo o hindi. And by the way, I noticed that, you are such a really cordial  group. Boys really, stay as boys. Boys will always be boys. It is my fervent hope that I am not derailing your lunch today.

Upon seeing your invitation, I was delighted to note the four core values that your organization advocates: “Peace, Unity, Love and Service” as these are fundamental principles that should be embodied not just by every Rotarian, but by each and every one of us.

In this regard, I would like to commend your organization for an outstanding record of leadership in service to the community. In behalf of the Filipino people, thank you very much for selflessly responding and providing humanitarian efforts in times of need, especially to the marginalized sectors of our society.

Kahanga-hanga ang pagtulong ninyo sa ating mga kababayan. Mula sa sektor ng pabahay, kalusugan, kaayusan, edukasyon, hanggang sa pagbibigay ng ayuda sa panahon ng sakuna at iba pang pangangailangan, lagi kayong nandyan para kumalinga at magbukas-palad.

I believe that our collective social responsibility to uplift our fellow men reveals a desire for peace and security. We want to have a society where you feel safe not just for your welfare, but most importantly, for that of your family. I firmly believe that a nation will only genuinely move forward if we attain genuine peace with justice.

Kaakibat po ng kapayapaan ang katarungan. Ang kapayapaan na nakamit dahil sa takot at karahasan ay huwad na kapayapaan. Sa halip na respeto sa isa’t isa, para tayong nasa bingit lagi ng pagiging biktima ng pang-aabuso at pagyurak sa ating mga karapatan.

I am sure everybody here is familiar with the issue of the rising cases of extrajudicial killings and summary executions in the country. For the last two months since the new administration took office, the death toll has already reached more than 2,000 men and women killed in the name of this so called all-out-war against drugs.

Nakakakilabot po ito! Tatlumpu’t anim (36) na tao na patay kada araw!

Sa kabila nito, may nagsasabi: hayaan lang daw natin ang libu-libong namamatay. Ang importante, naililigtas ang milyon-milyong Pilipino laban sa droga.

Ang tanong: Sino po ba ang mga biktima? Ligtas bang maituturing ang lipunan kung saan may natatagpuang mga bangkay tuwing umaga, may napapatay na limang taong gulang na bata, at maraming pagpaslang ang hindi matukoy kung sino ang gumawa?

Hindi lang po batas ang nilalabag dito, kundi maging ang ating karapatang pantao. Bawat dagdag sa inuulat na numero, may nawawalan ng magulang, nauulilang musmos, nagdurusang asawa, at nagsasarang pinto ng pag-asa.

These killings in the Philippines resonate to the international community. The United Nations and the European Union have expressed concern, if not deep alarm, over these drug kilings. We are prominently featured both in foreign print and broadcast media. Just last Tuesday, I was interviewed by CNN about these summary executions. Then just yesterday, I was criticized by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano in his privilege speech for supposedly bringing the country into bad light before the international media. So all of the bad international media is now my fault.

Mahirap po ata talagang gisingin ang nagpapanggap na tulog, o ang lasing sa kapangyarihan. If they want the bad publicity in the international media to end, they need only to do one thing, and only the President can do this: Stop the killings now! Or stop encouraging those killings!

Let us not forget that we are a signatory to the Rome Statute, which lays down the accountability of governments in systematic attacks against their civilian population, whether through negligence, acquiescence, or actual State policy. It lays down the concept of command responsibility, or the accountability of high government officials for criminal acts done by the rank and file if said government officials are aware of or are in a position to put an end to the commission of said criminal acts. But nothing is being done about it or nothing serious and earnest is being done about those acts.

Hindi po tayo nananakot. We are just reminding this government that outside this country, there is still such a thing as the civilized world that is bound by international law and by common principles of human rights. And they are watching us. Until when can we go on ignoring their concerns as we continue with our bloody drug war, eventually alienating ourselves from the rest of the community of nations as a pariah or worse, as a rogue State?  I’m sure no one wants that.

Whether in a media interview, the Senate hearings, or today, before you, gentlemen and few ladies, my point remains the same: Extrajudicial or extra-legal killings whether perpetrated by the State or by non-state actors must stop. These acts are illegal, criminal, and a blatant disregard of human rights.

It’s supposed to be on Monday, but I moved it to Wednesday, but I think and they are requesting that I further move it, we will hold the continuation of the Senate inquiry on the spate of extrajudicial killings in relation to the administration’s war on drugs. I would like to invite you to monitor this and hear firsthand the story of the witnesses as well as the resource persons. We have presented just two of several witnesses that we have. We are already fortunate that we were able to access a few witnesses.

Our objective is clear: to improve our system of laws in connection with the prevention and investigation of rising cases of summary executions, and those relating to the mechanisms of accountability for whoever is involved in these killings.

Wala po tayong ibang nais dito kundi malaman ang katotohanan sa likod ng mga nangyayaring patayan. Gusto po nating palakasin pa ang kampanya ng ating kapulisan laban sa droga, habang sinisigurong walang masasamang elemento ang nakikisakay dito.

Kung mananahimik lang tayo, lalo po tayong malulubog sa kumunoy ng karahasan at pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan. Ipagtanggol po natin ang ating mga karapatan, sagipin po natin ang ating demokrasya.

As I’ve said, this inquiry is in aid of legislation, and was not brought about by a personal vendetta. If there is such a personal vendetta, it’s not from my end. As I have said before, I am fully supportive of the administration’s campaign against drugs— which is why I want to ensure that it remains in accordance with our Constitution and laws.

Instead of throwing mud at me, I call on the administration to support our advocacy and address these alarming incidents of summary executions.

Kita naman po ninyo, walang tigil ang pagbatikos sa akin sa social media at ng matataas na opisyal ng gobyerno. Sabi ko nga, ang kampanya laban sa droga ay lumalabnaw dahil nagiging kampanya na ito laban kay Leila de Lima.

The attacks of course are not limited to social media or in almost daily speeches or presscons of the President himself. The House of Representatives is about to conduct an inquiry for the sole purpose of investigating my so-called involvement in the proliferation of drugs in the New Bilibid Prison.

Do you know how I feel about these? You cannot imagine. In fact I am numb already. My feelings have been numbed already by this crazy, insane accusations. A baseless and superficial complaint has been filed against me with the Senate Ethics Committee, despite the complainant admitting that he has no personal knowledge of what he is complaining about. He was just parroting the allegations of the President during those presscons. At the same time, a frivolous election protest was filed against me with the Senate Electoral Tribunal by the 13th placer in the Senate elections, undoubtedly as a sword of Damocles hanging over my head as I continue to perform my job of putting to task this government for its abuse of power and disregard for the rights of the poor, who are now being subjected daily to what can only be characterized as modified “zoning” operations under Operation Tokhang.

And now, I don’t know if you know these, but they are asking subdivision associations to allow PNP access to the gated communities of the more affluent among our people. Kakatok na po ang pulisya sa inyong mga bahay, at kapag hindi kayo nagpaunlak isasama na lang kayo sa isang listahan. Katulad ng pagsama nila sa aking pangalan on their so-called drug matrix. We might not notice it due to our own support for this war on drugs, I’m sure everybody here supports this, but precisely in the name of this war on drugs, we are slowly but surely inching our way to the actual realities of a police state, where the government can look into your private affairs and “visit” you in your homes, even without any probable cause, without any search warrant, without any report or complaint against you or anyone of you in your households. I can only characterize such a situation as martial law without the formal declaration.

Kaya rin po siguro pinipilit sa atin ang paglibing ni Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani. Para makalimutan natin ang kasaysayan ng diktadura at martial law, at para muling maging katanggap-tanggap sa atin ang mga pamamaraan ng ganitong klase ng pamamahala na atin nang isinuka at winaksi sa EDSA noong Pebrero ng 1986. Sa paglibing kay Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani ay nais nitong gobyerno na ilibing din ang mga alaala ng ating pakikipaglaban sa pag-abuso sa kapangyarihan ng isang diktador. Ang paglibing ng mga alaalang ito ay pagbaon sa ating kakayahan na labanan muli ang isa pang nagbabantang diktadura.

What we are witnessing is the disempowerment of the people. Slowly but surely, civil society is being separated from political power, whether through our own fault of surrendering our rights to the vision of a strongman and trusting that he can do no wrong, or out of fear, hoping that the repression does not reach our doorsteps and that we do not become another victim of the war on drugs.

“Either you are with us, or against us.” May I just remind you of that famous statement. Dito po sa mga katagang ito nag-uumpisa ang lahat ng pangingitil ng salungat na mga opinyon, and, ultimately, the destruction of democracy itself. Kitang-kita po ito sa ginagawa sa akin ng Pangulo ngayon. Ang malaking tanong: Pagkatapos ko, sino ang isusunod sa mga nangangahas na sumalungat sa Pangulo?

They have thrown everything against me, except the kitchen sink. They have done everything, except what I have been asking for, a formal charge and complaint so I can defend myself in a fair hearing. Pero mukhang nahihirapan po silang mag-imbento ng ebidensya. At nag-uumpisa na po ang pag-imbento ng mga ebidensya. Kung nabasa po ninyo yung isang dyaryo ngayon, sinasabi dun na meron daw po akong dalawang former employees na nag-execute ng affidavit na sinasabing meron daw mga accounts itong mga empleyado na ito na may mga halaga, may mga pera, at sinasabi raw na ako raw ang nagpabukas ng mga accounts na yun para daw doon padaanin ang mga natatanggap ko daw sa mga drug convicts from the New Bilibid Prison.

Number 1, I don’t think there is such an affidavit or affidavits from my former employees. The other day, nakarating po sa akin ang impormasyon na yan na kinausap daw po ni Secretary Aguirre ang dalawang dati kong empleyado, na empleyado na nya ngayon sa Office of the Secretary, naiwan po sila, hindi po sa akin sumama sa Senado. Pinatawag daw po ni Secretary Aguirre, at pagkatapos kausapin, pinadala sa NBI. At ikinuwento po sa akin, parang they’re being made to execute something para ganun ang palabasin, na meron silang accounts. Suddenly they become instant millionares with those alleged bank accounts, allegedly opened on my behest, crazy brazen lies. At marami pa raw pong ganung gagawing frabrication kontra sa akin.

So sabi ko nga ho,  mukhang nahihirapan po silang mag-imbento ng ebidensya, or sinusubukan na nilang mag-imbento ng ebidensya. Naiinis na po ata ang Pangulo at hanggang ngayon ay wala pang matinong pekeng ebidensya na mailabas ang DOJ at si Secretary Aguirre. Hindi naman po malayo na mag-imbento sila ng ebidensya, nag-iimbento na nga po ng ebidensya. In his early morning press conference in Davao City, the President himself admitted matter-of-factly that he usually planted evidence against the accused when he was still a prosecutor. So apparently he’s doing it again.

Just the other day and yesterday, during a House budget inquiry, the NBI, the PDEA and the DOJ all denied that they were responsible for coming out of the so-called drug matrix that the President presented to the media, supposedly to prove my involvement in the Bilibid drug trade. Kung hindi po sa NBI, PDEA o DOJ  nanggaling ang matrix ng Pangulo, kanino po pwedeng manggaling ito? Saan po kaya nanggaling yun? Baka from some gossip columnist. Have you seen the matrix? The worst matrix I have ever seen. No pretense at all of producing some semblance of professional and efficient piece of work.

In their desperation, the Secretary of Justice himself has personally summoned two of my former staff at the DOJ to accuse them of being my bagmen and keeping millions of pesos in their personal bank accounts. According to Secretary Aguirre, these staff who continued working at the DOJ as messengers are in fact millionaires. After summoning them and accusing them of a crime, Secretary Aguirre himself has ordered them sent to the NBI for investigation, without any warrant of arrest, without probable cause simply because they are former employees.

These are the extent of illegal methods this government is willing to commit in order to silence me. It has already become a personal obsession of the President himself. It is as if they are afraid that if they cannot destroy me and pin me down, with all the government machinery and executive power behind them, they will simply look like impotent fools before a defenseless woman whom they have dishonored and maligned.

Ang magpahiwatig ng damdamin at ilabas ang isinasaloob ay isang napaka-simple pero pinaka-importanteng katangian ng lahat ng tao, mahirap man o mayaman. Ito po ang dahilan kung bakit tayo binigyan ng bibig at tenga, para magsalita at marinig ng iba. Kung hindi ito ang napakalantad na katotohanan, hindi na sana tayo ginawang mga tao, imbes ay pinanganak na lang sana tayong mga hayop. Ang pagkawala ng tinig sa lipunan ay umpisa ng pagpanaw ng ating pagkatao. Huwag nating hayaan na mangyari ito.      

Hangga’t humihinga po ako, titindig ako para sa karapatang pantao at hustisya, laban sa mga lumalapastangan nito.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the groups, institutions, and individuals which have expressed their support for this endeavor. This is especially important because our nation is in crisis—a crisis brought about not by a war on drugs, but a crisis of democracy where citizens are silenced despite the prevalence of violence; and where lies and rumors are fabricated not just by evil elements, not just in social media, but also by those in power.

Ano na po ba ang nangyayari sa atin? Naniniwala ako, hindi ganito ang Pilipino.

I encourage the Filipino people to fight these evil elements from a moral high ground, to fight for the rule of law and the reign of justice. Sabi nga ni Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.” I encourage each one of us to rise above our fear and speak up for what is right even if it is unpopular, and to stand up for our democratic ideals.

I can guarantee you this: I will not allow myself to be distracted from fulfilling the mandate given to me by our people. Despite the malicious personal attacks and fabricated charges against me, I will not lose focus. Rest assured that I will be your staunch ally in upholding criminal and social justice, strengthening good governance, and protecting human rights.

Ever since I was appointed to the Department of Justice, I have sought to reform our criminal justice system. Certainty, swiftness and severity of punishment for heinous crimes define my social justice and anti-crime advocacy.

Amid calls to reinstate the death penalty, because I am totally against it, I will stay firm in my opposition against death penalty. I filed a bill on qualified reclusion perpetua for heinous crimes. There are studies which show that imposition of the death penalty has not been shown to prevent crimes. It is anti-poor and anti-christian.

Sagrado po ang buhay ng tao. Hindi na maibabalik ang buhay na nawala, kahit pa ang mapatunayang walang sala.

I am also pushing to streamline and strengthen the process of criminal investigation. As I have said before, cases languish in Philippine courts for an average of eight (8) to ten (10) years, even if the ideal period for resolving cases is only one to two years.

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), in 2013, lower courts were continuously confronted with heavy volumes of caseload, with an average of a million cases per year or equivalent to an average of around 4,200 cases per working day.[1]

Under this proposed bill, we will expedite the administration of the criminal justice system in the country. Law enforcers and prosecutors shall work hand-in-hand in investigating a crime and to greatly benefit the whole judicial system. I laud you for that.

I heard that the Rotary Club of Manila is implementing a  “Sagip-Kabataan Project” or the rehabilitation of streetchildren and juvenile offenders.

          In connection with this and in response to calls from some sectors to lower the age of criminal liability— leading to more and more of our children ending up in jail, I have also filed an Anti-Criminal Exploitation of Children bill, which clearly defines the criminal exploitation of children, and imposes higher penalties for all crimes involving them.

I believe that minors should be guided and rehabilitated, not jailed, not punished. This proposed Anti-Criminal Exploitation of Children Law will protect our children from the true predators who take advantage of their weaknesses. Punish the syndicates or the member of the syndicates, the drug syndicates, and other criminal syndicates. Punish the parents, not the children.

In addition, I have also filed anti-smuggling and anti-illegal black sand mining bills as means to provide the government with stronger measures against these illegal activities. I have taken a very proactive stance against these violations back from when I was still the Justice Secretary to plug in the loopholes of the law, and punish those government officials conniving with syndicates.

Moreover, I will also file a bill on the Proceeds of Crime, which I would call POCA— Proceeds of Crime Act— which will trace, restrain, and confiscate proceeds of organized crimes, thereby immediately isolating the criminals from instruments of their crimes. This proposed bill will allow confiscated assets to be given back to communities, to police, and the judiciary to prevent the harmful effects of crime.

Others in the pipeline of my legislative agenda include strengthening of the Witness Protection Program (WPP), whistleblowers’ protection, and a new Code of Crimes, since we can all agree that there is a need to put a system in our legislation for easy reference, amendments, and repeals. Masyado na hong luma ang ating Revised Penal Code, circa 1932.

I am confident that with these bills, we will uphold social justice and create genuine opportunities across the country. I look forward to your support in passing these measures into law.

I know too well that more difficulties will be on my way; that my work at the Senate will be a road full of hurdles. But as long as I continue doing what is just and right, I will not back down, because the truth is on my side.

Ginagawa ko po ito hindi lang bilang abogado, hindi lang bilang Senador, kundi bilang Pilipinong may tungkulin at malasakit sa kapwa Pilipino.

Gaano mang pang-aalipusta, kasinungalingan at pagsira sa aking dignidad ang gawin ng ilan, hindi ako matitinag. Hindi ko isusuko ang aking prinsipyo at pagkatao. Dahil alam ko kung ano ang totoo. Dahil sa dulo ng lahat ng ito, hindi ako nagtatrabaho para lang sa aking sarili, ginagawa ko ito bilang ina, para sa kinabukasan ng aking mga anak at ng kanilang mga anak, para sa mga biktima at mga pamilya nilang naghahanap ng katotohanan at hustisya.

As Filipinos, whether we work in government or in the private sector, we are bound by our duty: to protect the welfare of our fellow citizens, uphold the moral high ground in society, and respect the fundamental rights, especially the right to life of others regardless of who they are and where they come from.

Together, we will be able to serve the public in a higher capacity.  Together, we will ensure a more just, humane, and prosperous nation for the next generation.

This is about our future and the future of our country.

Maraming maraming salamat.

[1] http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/06/14/953927/courts-congested-over-1-million-cases-yearly-nscb. Date last accessed 31/08/2016.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
Rm. 502 & 16 (New Wing 5/F) GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Diokno Blvd., Pasay City

Trunk Lines:
(632) 552-6601 to 70 local no. 5750

Direct Lines:
807-8489 / (Rm. 16) 807-8580 /local 8619


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