De Lima appeals to voters to elect independent-minded bets to Senate

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has reiterated her call to elect independent-minded candidates who can stand up against Mr. Duterte’s malevolent agendas and prevent him from securing ultimate hold to political power in the May 13 elections.

In her message read during the “Miting de Avance ng Taumbayan” at the People Power Monument, Edsa, De Lima said that among Duterte’s political agendas after the midterm polls is to aggressively push for a federal form of government or Charter Change (Cha-cha).

She explained that the success of Cha-cha, which can be made easy if the Senate will be dominated by the President’s allies, will allow Duterte to extend his term and ensure dynastic succession to political office of his family members.

“Kapag nagtagumpay ang Pederalismo ni Duterte, sya mismo ay tila may maitim na balak na manatili sa pwesto hanggang sampung taon sa ilalim ng tinatawag na ‘transition period’ na nakasaad sa panukalang Cha-cha,” she said.

“Hindi natin ito papayagan! Ngayong Mayo 13, sabay-sabay tayong manindigan para sa karapatang pantao, kalayaan at demokrasya. Sa araw ding ito natin simulan ang paniningil. Let our vote be a protest vote against those who have looted their way to power,” she added.

The shift to a federal form of government has been among Duterte’s key agendas since he began his presidential journey in 2016, with political pundits pointing out that any changes to the 1987 Constitution will only grant additional and unchecked powers to the Office of the President.

With the success of Charter change, the lady Senator from Bicol pointed out that Mr. Duterte can have the power to strengthen political dynasties, which has become more pronounced under his regime.

She stressed that the Duterte family is the perfect poster family for political dynasties as it fields all three children as candidates for elective offices in Davao in the 2019 polls.

“Our country is ruled by a handful of political families, close to just a hundred. For these dynasts, the government is a family enterprise and public service, a convenient way to hold on to political power,” she said.

Citing a study, the Senator noted that the number of powerful political families per position rose from 75 to 78 percent among district representatives; 70 to 81 percent among governors; 58 to 70 percent among mayors, from 2007-2016.

De Lima also warned that a shift to a federal form of government under Duterte’s reign will only allow political families like the Dutertes to flourish and gain more power that “know[s] no bounds.”

“How? Because this regime is so bent on dividing the country into federal states without taking serious steps to dismantle these fiefdoms like enacting first an anti-political dynasty law,” she said.

“Tandaan nating nasa interes ni Duterteng manatili sa kapangyarihan ang kanyang pamilya at mga kasabwat upang hindi sila masingil sa kanilang mga inutang na dugo, pagkakanulo sa ating soberanya at sa napakarami pang mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao,” she added.

According to her, the Filipino electorate should do their part in saving democratic space for individuals who will genuinely serve the country and their countrymen. De Lima has since vouched for the integrity, courage and competence of Otso Diretso’s senatorial line-up, including, Sen. Bam Aquino, Rep. Gary Alejano, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, civic leader Sam Gutoc, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romy Macalintal, former senator Mar Roxas and ex-Rep. Erin Tanada.

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