Dispatch from Crame No. 237: Sen. Leila M. de Lima on Maria Ressa’s Statement during the Senate hearing on fake news online

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For a very, very long time – in fact, ever since the systematic attacks against me started last August 2016 – I have been waiting for one thing, one thing only: vindication.

In many ways, I have been vindicated this past year: not just by the various awards and recognitions I have been honored with, acknowledging my plight as a human rights defender under attack, but also by the very acts of my persecutors.

Duterte has, by his own admission, proclaimed himself to be the President of False Accusations, when he admitted and even boasted that he makes up lies against his enemies, like the fake Singaporean bank accounts he falsely attributed to Senator Trillanes.

Now, I am again vindicated, this time before my colleagues in the Senate and the whole world, through the statement made by Ms. Maria Ressa during the hearing on fake news last Tuesday.

Nung binabasa ko yung transcript ng statement ni Ms. Ressa, parang nagliwanag ang mundo ko! Here is proof that I am not just making up the persecution against me.

Seeing the pattern brought on a Eureka! moment: (1) allege corruption; (2) sexualize the target; and (3) call for the arrest of the target. Repeat ad nauseam because if you repeat it enough times, lies become truth, and truth becomes lies.

Yes, that is exactly what happened to me!

When Ms. Ressa mentioned the hate messages she received, I even had flashbacks to the thousands of hate messages I received through phone calls and text messages, after the House of Representatives hearing exposed my mobile number to the public.

There is immense relief to see what was done to me be laid down and shown to be a systematic operation by people who not only train for it, but also have the backing of the State.

There is even a term for it: “state-sponsored trolling”, indeed!

And, apparently, there are training centers for it: in China and Russia, where Ms. Ressa said Secretary Andanar will send PNA and other agencies to train.

Kakila-kilabot isipin that we are at the mercy of a global syndicate of authoritarian governments and rulers, who are attacking what they hate most – democracy and freedom – by killing its most important foundation: TRUTH.

Sawa na silang pumatay ng paisa-isang tao, o manira ng paisa-isang tao, they are now attacking the whole Philippine nation, as we know it. By killing Truth, they will turn our free citizenry into slaves of dictators and authoritarian rulers.

The term this calls to mind is “gaslighting” – a form of psychological manipulation aimed at gaining more power by making the target question his or her reality. It is a common tactic of abusers, dictators, narcissists and cult leaders. It’s a slow and methodical process.

You see, this is a horror story. And I am not even the real victim. What was done to me is just one piece of the bigger plan to gaslight the Filipino people.

I commend Ms. Ressa and everyone who are speaking against the spread of fake news. You are the real heroes of this generation.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
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