BERLIN – Sen. Leila M. de Lima warned against the reconstruction of the Philippine history and the national identity of the Filipino people by the so-called “agents of change” who want us to think and act contrary to the values and principles we fought hard for.
She also alluded to “authoritarian leaders who excel at manipulation” and who have been able “to prey on our fears and self-interests in order to divide and conquer us.”
Speaking at the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy 2016 here, De Lima said there are some disturbing events in the past few months of the country’s political history that are being used to manipulate and decimate the national psyche and identity.
“One year ago, our country seemed well on its way to realizing these aspirations and ideals as embodied in the Preamble to our Constitution,” she said, referring to the year 2016 are “the year of interesting turns of events.” “Never could I have foreseen the extent to which the very face and values of my country and my people could have changed in just 12 months, nor the disturbing direction we seem to be hurtling towards from here on,” she added.
De Lima noted the rash of vigilante-type killings in the first six months of the administration of Philippine President Duterte since his assumption in July. To date, about 6,095 people were reportedly killed in the government’s all-out war against drugs.
She also took issue at the apparent rush by the administration-dominated Congress to pass a law restoring the death penalty law purportedly to deter crimes in the country despite worldwide abolition of the capital punishment. “That is the true horror of it all: we are fast becoming a nation where killing is seen as the solution to our problems. Not a solution; not the first or the last resort; but the solution,” she said.
“Clearly, the only real solution is to give them a carte blanche (blank card) authority to kill the suspects outright. That is our brand of justice these days. And the true horror is that some of our people will stand up and applaud this reality,” she added.
The former justice secretary also lambasted a hero’s burial given to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, an administration’s move she said violated the Constitution which ensured that similar abuses will and should never happen again in the country’s history. “That was baffling to us. How can we reconcile our political history thus far, with this act of honoring the one man who single-handedly brought on the darkest period of our post-colonial history?,” she said.
The neophyte senator also lashed out at the Duterte administration for continually dangling the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus to curb threats of drug-related reprisal and possible terrorist attacks.
“He and his men (are) preying on the people’s fears from so-called anticipated reprisals by those involved in the drug trade, or from terrorist attacks, or some other undefined threats that prey upon their feelings of insecurity,” she said.
“(They) are keeping the threat of a declaration of a state of national emergency, martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus perpetually hanging above the Filipino’s heads, thus priming them for malleability for other extreme actions,” she added.
De Lima challenged the people that the year 2017 should be an opportunity to reclaim our national identity by resisting attempts to prey upon our marginalization and victimization by so-called “agents of change and champions of cause.”
“That is the challenge that we Filipinos face in 2017. We must find who we are. To know who we are is to trust who we are. We must define the identity of the Filipino. To know it is to recognize it in others; to recognize it is to feel revulsion when their lives are taken,” she added.