Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has lashed out at President Duterte for his incessant attacks on Rappler’s alleged foreign ownership while he continues to kowtow to China in exchange for whatever favors he could receive from the neighboring country.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, called out Duterte’s hypocrisy for questioning Rappler’s ownership but failing to stand up against Chinese incursion in the contested islands in the South China Sea, locally referred to as West Philippine Sea.
“[Duterte] surrenders the Spratlys and Benham Rise to China while the nation is asleep, probably giving the most reasonable explanation why Bong Go is a billionaire, and why Malacañang is intent on sabotaging the Navy’s combat weapons system,” she said in a Dispatch from Crame No. 228.
“More than Pia Ranada and Rappler being allegedly owned by foreigners, what is more alarming is a President owned and controlled by China. This is the true mark of a coward, a President who cannot hold up his balls that shrink and disappear in the face of a real challenge from a stronger bully,” she added.
In his recent tirade against Rappler, Duterte called the online news outlet a peddler of fake news after it published a news report about Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go’s alleged interference in the P16-billion frigate acquisition project for the Philippine Navy.
Duterte also reportedly rebuked Rappler reporter Pia Ranada during a press conference last Jan. 16 for the said Rappler report titled “Bong Go intervenes in P15.5-B project to acquire PH warships.”
This event comes a day after news broke that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked Rappler’s registration as it accused the media organization of violating the Foreign Equity Restriction of the Philippine Constitution.
As he continues to question Rappler’s foreign ownership, Duterte himself is being tagged by some political pundits as China’s lapdog.
De Lima likewise said Duterte cannot fight fair especially with women like Ranada who stand up to his official bullying.
“Whether it is because of a childhood trauma of abuse from his own mother or just plain uncivilized brutishness, he cannot stand women with balls, especially when they tend to demonstrate that he has none,” she said.
“The latest confrontation between Duterte and Pia Ranada does not only show that Duterte is on the attack against media, it also shows that Duterte intends to use all the powers of his office to muzzle the press,” she added.
The Senator from Bicol said Duterte– who considers press freedom a privilege instead of the constitutional right–has already denounced free speech.
De Lima, who was recognized by Amnesty International as one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders under Threat, has also been a target of vicious gender-based attacks against her by the President and his lackeys but she vowed to continue fighting against injustices while in detention.