Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has warned the public about deliberate efforts to sugarcoat the costs of the Duterte administration’s all-out war on drugs that caused thousands of casualties, including innocent children and young people.
In her message during the National Human Rights Assessment Forum and ahead of the 70th anniversary celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), De Lima said the country is facing a human rights calamity.
“With so many killings and abuses going on and with such level of impunity that this regime has ushered in, the challenge for us is not to lose track of the real numbers, the real perpetrators and masterminds, and the real and wicked agenda behind these atrocities,” she said.
De Lima’s message during the National Human Rights Assessment Forum held at the Commission on Human Rights Building, in Diliman, Quezon City last Nov. 12 was read by Atty. Jacqueline Mejia, a representative from the Senator’s office.
The forum was organized to assess the worsening human rights situation in the country and to find ways how advocates and victims of abuses can find unfettered truth and exact justice and accountability.
In helping attain justice for the victims of unjust killings, the Senator from Bicol underscored the need for public vigilance against fake data and disinformation peddled by no less that the President and his cohorts to advance their selfish agendas.
“[This government] hides the traces of its crimes by using Orwellian nonsense, that is to say, it says one thing to mean another, a doublespeak,” she cautioned.
De Lima noted the government disguises the real intent of its war on drugs operation by using words such as “tokhang” — which means to approach and talk — while many police operatives shoot suspected offenders “point black in cold blood.”
She also recalled how the present administration denies accusations of extra-judicial killings using gobbledygook terms like “deaths under investigation” when there were no investigations done in the first place.
“What all these (efforts) try to achieve is to mislead the fact-checkers, the human rights groups, the media and the general public,” she said.
Aside from the killings, the Senator from Bicol said the Duterte administration is also responsible for causing more hardships for the poor families due to its inconsiderate and failed policies.
“Tila wala ring komprehensibong plano para sa daang libong urban poor na madi-displace ng mga infrastructure projects ng gobyerno. Ang mga kababayan natin at bakwet sa Marawi, isang taon at kalahati na ang nakararaan, hindi pa rin tiyak kung kailan sila makababalik para maibangon muli ang kanilang kabuhayan at mga pamayanan,” she said.
“Ang rumaratsadang presyo ng bilihin at tumataas pang pagbubuwis ay patuloy ding nagpapahirap sa marami na ngang nagdurusang kababayan natin,” she added.
Given the failures of the government, De Lima said Filipinos should concert exerted efforts in speaking out and asserting the sanctity of life, dignity and justice which is blatantly disregarded by Duterte and his lackeys.
“Huwag po tayong panghihinaan ng loob dahil naniniwala akong sa pamamagitan ng sama-samang pagkilos ay unti-unting mamumulat ang ating mga kababayan at unti-unti rin tayong makakalikha ng isang malakas na kilusan ng taumbayan para sa katotohanan at katarungang ating inaasam,” she said.
Disturbingly, certain quarters put the number of suspected drug offenders killed either through the so-called “legitimized” police operations or vigilante style executions since Duterte assumed office at more than 27,000.