ROXAS CITY – Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the public to continue expressing condemnation and demand for accountability to those responsible for the rash of extrajudicial and summary killings under the administration’s vicious war on drugs.
In her message at the recent “So ano Na” forum here, De Lima said the brutal murder of 17-year-old student Kian Loyd de los Santos of Caloocan City should be a strong “wake-up call” to stop turning a blind eye on all the abuses and cruelties in the country.
“What is happening right now after the brutal murder of Kian is a clear wake-up call to all, especially to our leaders in government that EJKs are indeed happening and are officiated by some members of our own police force. Even Senators who have previously closed their minds to this reality have now backtracked from their claims,” she said.
“It does bother me that thousands of our countrymen are getting killed, and many of us seem unperturbed. Why is it that the majority of Filipinos are silent despite the prevalence of violence in our society? Let us be angry by all this inhumanity. Let us stand up for those who cannot,” she added.
The Senator’s message was read by Maribel Golez of advocacy group The Force of Democracy during the forum attended by students and other groups such as Knights of Democracy, The Silent Majority, People for Truth and Democracy, among others.
De Lima, a staunch advocate for human dignity, initiated a Senate investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings under the administration’s murderous war on drugs barely two weeks after she assumed office.
Amid the ongoing investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte regime last year, 14 senators voted to oust her from the Justice and Human Rights chairmanship.
De Lima was replaced by Sen. Richard Gordon, who abruptly ended the Senate inquiry even though there were still witnesses yet to be presented, concluding that the killings are not state-sponsored.
It was only recently, after Kian’s death has created an uproar and sparked the call for justice not only for his death, but also for the unlawful demise of all victims of the war on drugs, that Gordon along with other majority senators decided to sign a resolution to probe all drug-related deaths.
The Senator from Bicol, however, expressed disappointment that her colleagues allowed for death toll to reach an estimate of 12,000 before taking the issue on EJKs seriously.
“Hindi ko maiwasang manghinayang. Kung noon pa lang, nagging masusi na pag-iimbestiga sa mga patayan, kung noon pa lang, hindi na pinalampas ang mga pang-aabuso ng mga scalawag na pulis, kung noon pa lang, pinahinto nang Pangulo ang patayan, at kung hindi lang nanahimik ang karamihan, marami pa sanang mga Kian ang kapiling ng kanilang pamilya. Marami pa sanang Kian ang hindi napagkaitan ng kanilang pangarap,” she said.
“Clearly: This fight is not mine alone. This fight is our fight for the victims of the government’s failed, bloody and hypocritical War on Drugs. Tama na ang pananahimik. Magsalita. Kumilos na,” she added.
De Lima, who is among the few senators who dared oppose and criticize the President, is considered as the first prominent political prisoner under the present Duterte regime after the government detained her on obviously fabricated drug charges to silence her from her vocal opposition to the government’s war on drugs.