Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has lauded the united opposition’s Senate slate Otso Diretso for running a dignified and clean race in the just-concluded elections where advancing the causes of human rights and democracy was at the forefront.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the midterm elections’ results will never change how the opposition coalition’s senatorial line-up gave hope to and inspired millions of Filipinos to speak out and fight against an oppressive regime.
“Lubos po akong nagpapasalamat sa mga kandidato ng Otso Diretso na pinangunahan ang ating laban. Buo ang aking tiwala, na nandiyan pa rin sila, ang oposisyon, at ang marami pa nating kababayan para tumindig at tumutol sa mga baluktot na polisiya ng kasalukuyang pamahalaan,” she said.
“Sa kabila ng resulta ng halalan, nagtagumpay silang walo na pag-alabin ang puso ng mamayang Pilipino at paalalahanan tayo na huwag matakot ipaglaban ang mahahalagang isyu ng bayan, tulad ng kahirapan, inhustisya, paglapastangan sa demokrasya at soberanya, at kawalan ng katarungang panlipunan,” added De Lima.
The Otso Diretso members include 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.
In their respective statements last May 14, Macalintal, Hilbay, Gutoc, and Tanada already conceded defeat but they promised to continue fighting for the future of the country and its people even after the end of elections.
The lady Senator from Bicol explained that the apparent failure of Otso Diretso’s senatorial candidates to make it to the Senate may mean “a renewed mandate for Duterte and all the negative consequences it entails for Philippine democracy.”
“This would constitute the second phase of the authoritarian experiment under Duterte, which would certainly be more terrible and frightening, what with the capture of virtually all major political institutions by Duterte,” she said.
She pointed out that the Filipino people should be wary at Charter Change, a bloodier drug war and more extrajudicial killings in the government’s all-out war on drugs, and the total capitulation of the country to China.
She also added that she dreads an unmitigated and unchecked corruption and abuse of power in the Duterte administration, and more repression of the opposition, critics, and pro-democracy forces and human rights defenders.
“Despite this bleak forecast, pro-democracy forces have no choice but to keep on fighting. This is now a matter of survival for Philippine democracy. If this is the second phase of Duterte’s authoritarian experiment, it will also be the second surge of the struggle against it,” she said.
De Lima, a former election lawyer before she entered government service, reiterated that the fight for truth, justice and good governance does not end after the 2019 midterm polls.“Hindi naman natatapos sa halalan ang pakikipaglaban natin para sa katotohanan, katarungan, at karapatang-pantao. Panibagong hamon po ito para sa ating lahat: lalo pa tayong maging mapanuri, magsikap at magkaisang tuparin ang kolektibong hangarin para sa bayan,” she said.