Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has paid tribute to the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, who marks her 9th death anniversary today, as she recalled the legacy she left behind in restoring the country’s democracy more than three decades ago.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, asked her fellow Filipinos to remember and honor the late President who helped restored the country’s democracy through the bloodless popular uprising, known as the People Power Revolution, in 1986.
“Ngayong araw, sama-sama po nating ginugunita ang buhay at dakilang ambag ng isang natatanging babae, lider, Pilipina, at Ina ng demokrasya na si dating Pangulong [Cory],” she said.
“Buong mundo ang humanga at patuloy na nagpupugay sa tapang, tatag ng loob at paninindigan ni Pangulong Cory,” she added.
The first woman president of the Philippines who served from 1986 to 1992, Aquino led the country’s eventful transition from dictatorship to democracy by putting an end to the 21-year authoritarian rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino, Time magazine’s “Woman of the Year” in 1986, was catapulted to the presidency following the assassination of her husband, the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., a freedom fighter known as the arch nemesis of Marcos.
De Lima also expressed concern that Cory Aquino’s effort to regain the country’s democracy might be put to waste with the emerging return of the dark chapter in the Philippine history under Duterte.
“Sa kabila ng trahedyang dumating sa buhay ng kanilang pamilya sa karumal-dumal na pagpaslang sa kanyang asawang si Ninoy Aquino, hinarap niya ang panibagong pagsubok: Ang pangunahan ang sambayanan sa paglaban sa malupit na diktador na nanungkulan ng hanggang dalawang dekada,” she said.
“Ngunit tila nagbabalik na naman ang madilim na kabanata sa ating kasaysayan. May Pangulong astang diktador sa paggamit ng dahas, paglabag sa batas, at sa pagkakalat ng kasinungalingan,” she added
Proving Duterte’s administration is reminiscent of Marcos’, De Lima cited the spate of killings of suspected drug offenders which is now estimated to reach a disturbing 23,000, and the return of plunderers, who are allies of Duterte, to power, among others.
“Nangyayari ito ngayon sa ating bayan dahil hinayaan natin itong mangyari. Bunga ito ng pangingibabaw ng takot at pananahimik ng marami. Subalit napatunayan natin, sa tapang ng isang Cory Aquino at ng milyon-milyong marangal at nagkakaisang Pilipino, kaya nating mapanumbalik ang liwanag ng pag-asa at katarungan sa ating lipunan,” she said.
The Senator from Bicol said the death anniversary of Cory Aquino should revive the Filipinos’ sense of bravery in standing up against the continuing injustices happening under the Duterte regime.
“Hindi pa huli ang lahat, at marami na ang namumulat sa katotohanan. Sa gabay ng Maykapal, at sa legasiyang iniwan ni Pangulong Cory sa puso’t isapan ng ating mga kababayan, muling mananaig ang kabutihan at katarungan sa ating bayan,” she said.
De Lima and Cory Aquino are the only two Filipinos who were conferred, thus far, with the highest human rights award by the Liberal International, which is the Prize for Freedom Award.
De Lima is considered as the first prominent political prisoner under the present Duterte regime. While in detention, she continues to fight against injustices and for the freedom of this country.