Dispatch from Crame No. 312: Statement of Sen. Leila M. de Lima – DUTERTE IS NEITHER A PRESIDENT NOR A LEADER


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Duterte’s attempt to blame a murder victim for his own murder—and in so doing, obscuring the truth and justifying, not just the killings, but the government’s unacceptable failure to protect its people from violence and delivering justice to victims—should be enough, on top of everything he has done so far, to demonstrate that what we have is not a President.

Whatever is now occupying the seat meant for our nation’s top official, it is not a leader. It is not a law abider, much less a law enforcer. It is easy to question if he even has a conscience or a moral compass, if not a soul.

If anything, what is now there, calling himself a President, is a malicious and evil-spirited bully, who thinks he can make the Filipino people suffer his abuses, vulgarity and uninhibited support for criminality within the bureaucracy, not because he is assured of a mandate from our people, but because he is protected by his foreign overlords.

He is a weak coward. He wages war and picks fight against those he deems incapable of protecting themselves against his attacks: women, children, the poor, the peaceful protesters and human rights defenders. Yet he cowers and folds when faced with the real enemies: foreign incursions that threaten our sovereignty and national security, and big-time criminal syndicates.

He fights good and bows to evil.

That’s not a strong leader.

And the Filipino people deserve better.

But ever so slowly, in the past two years, we have somehow descended into a relationship of cyclical abuse with Duterte.

The signs are there.

He isolates us from those who might help us. He deports a missionary nun, incarcerates his fiercest critic, and sanctions the killings of those who refuse to be back off.

He employs threats, violence and intimidation and claims that he is doing it for our own good.

He consolidates control over us. He has effective control over all branches of government now, and soon, even the Office of the Ombudsman.

He controls our reality through his army of internet trolls and foreign-backed propaganda machine. When we ask for proof, he produces matrices that later turn out to be unverified and erroneous. They prove one thing: his propensity for making accusations that he is too inept and lazy to even substantiate. He believes his word is enough.

He paints his victims as the villains. A vocal Senator suddenly becomes a drug lord. A murdered priest, who is a vocal human rights and pro-environmental activist, is suddenly a serial adulterer.

He commits abuse. But we remain quiet, so he is emboldened.

He commits even more abuses, become more and more depraved and shameless. And we respond by growing even more quiet, trying not to make any sudden movements and avoiding looking the evil right in the eye. If we ignore it and believe in the lies, we hope that everything will suddenly become better.

Well, it should be clear by now that butchers, torturers, bullies don’t change just because they are ignored. Instead, they tend to escalate.

It is our job to prevent him from further escalating, and further hurting us and our future generations.

This is not just about seeking justice for Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura, Fr. Marcelito Paez and all other human rights defenders who have been slain and oppressed.

This is about defending ourselves from a man who wants to hold full control over the destiny of our nation, but cares nothing for the welfare of the people. A man who has no heart for his people, yet wields complete power over them, is Death to his people.

This is a fight for our lives.

And no one person can do it.

But the fact that there are those who are willing to lay down their lives and freedoms to defend our human rights, our freedoms, the rule of law and the benefits of democracy on our behalf should be enough to wake us up from our paralysis.

We are no longer victims held captive in an abusive relationship. We are the commanders of our own destiny.

Sa mga pananalita ni Rodrigo Duterte, ani mo nakasandal sa pader. Marahil nga nakasandal nga siya sa isang mataas at matibay na pader. But walls can be climbed. Genghis Khan breached the Great Wall of China. And even the Berlin Wall was torn down.

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