Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged municipal mayors belonging to Liberal Party (LP) to not waver in their fight to achieve justice, truth and freedom for the benefit not only of their constituents but also of all the Filipino people.
De Lima, a Liberal Party member, said her partymates should share their experiences and learn from each other to improve their service for the public, and resist any temptation or tendencies to allow a repeat of the Marcos-era authoritarianism.
“This occasion, with people who share common principles, can also further strengthen our party’s resolve for justice and democracy, especially during these challenging times under the Duterte regime,” she said in a message read at the recent gathering of LP municipal mayors.
Duterte’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law is reminiscent of the 21-year authoritarian rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos whose era was marked by rampant human rights violations, oppression and brutality.
Under the present administration, De Lima said, thousands of Filipinos, especially among the poor, including young people, were killed, while the rich and those with connections with Malacañang evaded accountability.
“The media is oppressed, while fake news is peddled to distort the truth. Citizens are silenced because of the culture of impunity being reinforced by top officials in government,” she added.
Since the government-led all-out war on illegal drugs has commenced in July last year, an estimate of more than 13,000 people have already been killed – both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style executions. Duterte also has a sour relationship with the media.
In challenging times like these, De Lima pointed out that public servants are expected to speak out at all times against the crooked policies of the administration and stand up against an extremist leader.
“Garapalan na ang ginagawa nila. Ipinakulong ang inosente, kinakasuhan ang mga kritiko ng gobyerno, habang pinapalaya ang mga nakikipagsabwatan sa kanilang pansariling agenda. Ngayon nga, pati mastermind ng katiwalian, ginawa na ring testigo ng pamahalaan. Sa lahat ng ito, mananahimik pa rin ba tayo?” she said.
“Kaya naman nananatili ang hamon sa atin para magkaisa at kumilos para sa tama at makatarungan. Bilang mga kapwa ko pinuno, bilang kapwa ko Liberal, bilang mga lingkod-bayan, nawa’y magampanan natin ang ating tungkulin hindi lang sa ating nasasakupan, kundi maging sa sambayanan at susunod na henerasyon,” she added.
Considered as the first prominent political prisoner under the present Duterte regime, De Lima was illegally arrested and unjustly detained on trumped-up drug charges based on manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies of convicted felons.