As the nation commemorates the 122nd Philippine Independence Day, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed her solidarity with protesters who are collectively voicing out their indignation and condemnation concerning the worsening affairs of the country brought about by the increasingly undemocratic and anti-Filipino policies of the current administration.
De Lima, a known human rights and social justice champion, said the Filipinos should continue intensifying their fight for freedom from injustices and social inequities as the current administration continues to oppress its own people.
“‘Bayan ko, binihag ka, nasadlak sa dusa.’ Gaya ng nasa awitin, ganito ang kalagayan ng ating bansa ngayon. Nalugmok sa lusak na kagagawan ng mga traydor, ng mga pinunong mas inuuna ang interes ng dayuhan kaysa Inang Bayan. At mas masahol pa, sa panahon ng krisis ay walang pakundangan pa nilang niyuyurakan ang karapatan at dignidad ng mamamayan,” she said.
“[M]aigting akong nakikiisa sa sama-sama nating protesta sa araw na ito. Bawiin natin ang ating dangal at ipaglaban ang kalayaan mula sa Pangulo at gobyernong pro-China. Tuldukan natin ang mañanita ng mga hipokrito’t doble kara. Ipakita natin ang lakas ng sambayanang nagkakaisa tungo sa bayang tunay at sakdal laya,” she added.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, released her statement in time with the celebration of Independence Day on June 12.
In her message, she decried how the government weaponizes the law to silence dissent and stifle activism, while covering up their own brutality, corruption and incompetence.
“Imbes na mahabag ang gobyernong ito sa mga maralitang lalong naghirap dahil sa pandemya, imbes na pagbutihin ang serbisyo para tulungan silang makabangon at mabigyan ng ayuda, anong inatupag nila?” she asked.
“They railroaded the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which is like putting the final nail on the coffin of our rights and freedoms. It is giving this power-mad and bloodlusting regime the license to further terrorize, oppress and abuse our people,” she added.
The Anti-Terror Bill, which is passed both by the House of Representatives and the Senate, uses an overbroad definition of terrorism that can subject suspects, even those apprehended without a warrant, to weeks of detention prior to an appearance before a judge.
If enacted into law, De Lima maintained that the Anti-Terror Bill could worsen right abuses, which are already rampant, in the country.
“Kung pumatay na sila ng libo-libong mahihirap, kung inaresto nila ang mga pumupuna lamang sa mga kapalpakan ng gobyerno, kung mahigit tatlong taon na nilang ipinakulong ang isang inosente—ang isang nanunungkulang Senador—gamit ang mga imbentong kaso at inilagay pa sa isang detenidong incommunicado nang wala pa ang anti-terror bill, ano pa ang hindi nila kayang gawin sa ordinaryong Pilipino kapag naging ganap na batas na ito?” she asked.
It can be noted that De Lima has since tagged her arrest and continued incarceration for trumped-up drug charges as being part of the political persecution she is suffering due to her strong opposition to the Duterte administration’s blatant human rights violations, particularly the government’s murderous war on drugs and other anti-human rights policies.