Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed hopes that the heroism of the late human rights icon, former senator Jose “Pepe” Diokno, will continue to inspire many Filipinos in fighting for justice, human rights and democracy.
In her message read by Dr. Sylvia Claudio of #EveryWoman after the ceremonial unveiling of Diokno’s monument last Sept. 21, De Lima said Filipinos should honor Diokno as they live by his example.
“Kaakibat ng pagpapasinaya sa bantayog na ito ni Ka Pepe ay ang pagpupugay at pasasalamat natin sa kanyang malaking ambag sa pagsusulong ng demokrasya at sa di-matatawarang pagtataguyod ng karapatang pantao. Sa pagtatayo ng monumento niya, itinitindig din natin ang ipinaglaban niyang mga prinsipyo: Kalayaan ng bansa, dignidad ng bawat isa, katurangang panlipunan, at karapatang pantao para sa lahat,” she said.
“Sa pagtanaw natin sa bantayog ni Ka Pepe Diokno, ginugunita din natin ang kanyang mga nagawa at mabuting halimbawa. Tayo nang ipagtanggol ang hustisya at demokrasyang ipinaglaban niya at ng lahat ng Pilipinong nagmamahal sa kapwa at bansa,” she added.
Diokno’s bronze statue appearing to march forward with a raised fist, created by Filipino artist Julie Lluch, was unveiled at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) compound in Quezon City last Sept. 21, in time for the observance of the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.
Among those present were former President Benigno Aquino III, whose father, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., was detained along with Diokno during the Marcos dictatorship; CHR Chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon, who gave the opening remarks; and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who also delivered a speech about Diokno and democracy in the country.
Also present at the gathering were Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Franklin M. Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and members of the Diokno family
The same personalities were present during the “Mass for Justice” – intended to commemorate the martial law and its victims – held at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice at the University of the Philippines, Diliman before the unveiling ceremony.
The unveiling of the 9-foot bronze statue was followed by the concert “Manlaban Para sa Karaptan,” which was held at the same grounds and was attended mostly by young people with banners bearing messages such as: “I Stand with CHR,” “Fight for Democracy,” and “Stop the Killings.”
In a rhetoric question, De Lima criticized the Duterte administration’s selective justice that often favors the rich and privileged over the poor and oppressed.
“Ngayon, muling nababalot ng dilim ang bansa dulot ng karahasan, patayan at pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan. Ano nga bang aasahan natin sa isang Pangulo na walang pakialam sa pagpatay sa mahigit 13,000 Pilipino, at nais magpatuloy ang pagpatay ng 32 katao kada araw, kabilang ang mga batang walang kalaban-laban?,” she asked
“Paano mawawakasan ang katiwalian sa ating bayan kung pinapalaya ang mga may matibay na kaso ng korupsyon at pandarambong, at sa halip na imbestigahan ang mga kaalyado at kamag-anak ay pilit pa silang pinagtatakpan at pinoprotektahan ng pamahalaan?
“Paano makakamit ang tunay na pagbabago kung ang mismong gobyerno ay sinasagasaan ang ating mga karapatan, pinatatahimik ang mga kritiko, nagkakalat ng kasinungalingan, sinusupil ang malayang pamamahayag, at pilit tinatanggal ang piring ng katarungan?,” she added.
Since Duterte launched out his all-out war on drugs last year, more than 13,000 people, including minors, have been killed – either by vigilante-style executions or “legitimized” police operations.
While the poor people have been an easy target by the administration, the President’s allies, particularly his son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, remain untouchable and free despite anomalies hounding them.
The Senator from Bicol further reminded that Filipinos should remain strong – like Diokno – in tough times like this because the real power of the government lies in its people’s hands.
Diokno headed the Presidential Committee on Human Rights created by former president Corazon Aquino in 1986. The Committee was replaced by the CHR following the proclamation of the 1987 Constitution.