Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged fellow women to continue exemplifying courage in resisting rampant human rights abuses and attacks against women through misogynistic remarks, red-tagging and filing of fake charges by the current oppressive regime.
In her message for the webinar “RESISTers: Women Speak to Power” last Oct. 30, De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said that resistance is the language of empowerment.
“We need to resist because our rights and spaces in society are being violated and trampled upon by the misogynistic, chauvinistic, and women abuser Duterte regime,” she said.
“We have to unite and band together to push back and reclaim our person and womanhood against the behavior that debases our essence and existence,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol further said that women should treat other women as their sisters “to share each other’s sufferings, misfortunes and pains because we are also each other’s strength against the tyrannical government that now targets us.”
Organized by Gabriela Metro Manila and Karapatan Metro Manila, the webinar exposed the plight of women dissenters, especially detained women human rights defender in the Philippines, who have come under increasing attack by the state.
Citing her personal struggles for justice, De Lima shared that she remains detained over trumped-up drug charges for more than three and a half years now for the simple truth that Duterte cannot stand strong women like her.
“For launching an investigation into his murderous war on drugs and for speaking out against his abuses, Duterte lashed out against me. He vowed to destroy me in public and he tried so with all machineries of state he can lay his dirty hands on,” she said.
With testimonies of perjured hardened criminals, De Lima was dubbed as a “drug queen”. De Lima lamented that: “But for the invented charges to stick, my credibility had to be destroyed. And so with repeated lies and attempts at humiliation, they attacked me as a woman, with my personal life hung dry in public. Overnight, I became the subject of slut-shaming memes and jokes in social media.”
“I am in jail for alleged conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade. Hanggang ngayon, walang maipakitang matibay na ebidensya laban sa akin, maliban sa testimonya ng mga convict-witnesses at ilan-ilang mga kaduda-dudang testigo. No drugs, no money trail, no transactions. No credible derogatory information, intel or otherwise, about my alleged drug links. Nothing,” she added.
De Lima recalled that amid the blatant attacks and persecution against her, it was women, RESISters, who were the first to come to her defense. Through the collective efforts of strong and courageous women, “the so-called legislative probe was exposed for the farce and harassment it truly was.”
Aside from her, De Lima said she has seen heightened attacks on women, especially women who resist – human rights worker, Reina Nasino, actresses Liza Soberano and Angel Locsin, including Locsin’s sister Ella Colmenares, beauty queen Catriona Gray, and Gabriela member Beatrice Belen – for the past weeks.
Despite the growing injustice against women, De Lima said she finds the heightened vigilance and resistance among them as remarkable, adding that the day of reckoning for these people in power who dare denigrate women will come.
“Kapag tayo ay lumalaban, inaatake tayo bilang babae dahil buong akala nila ang pagiging babae ang ating kahinaan. Diyan sila nagkamali!” she said.
De Lima, a staunch human rights and women’s rights champion, earlier called out officials to stop telling women how to behave in the face of blatant oppression after Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade warned Liza Soberano against supporting women’s group Gabriela.
In this 18th Congress, De Lima has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 378 protecting women in state custody, SB No. 622 increasing the age of consent to 18 to protect minors against rape and other forms of sexual exploitation, and SB No. 1148 increasing the hiring of female police officers in the Philippine National Police. (30)