Dispatch from Crame No. 519: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the Electoral Loss of the Opposition Slate


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I have been asked how I feel witnessing the results of the May 2019 Senatorial poll unfold. By now, the results are clear: not a single opposition senatorial aspirant made it to the top 12.

The results may be clear, ostensibly, but to be honest, it makes it no easier for me to put my emotions into words. I have always put reason above emotions; finding the why and the how always came first before giving in to the thrall of feelings. But this time, my very attempt to search for reason merely heightened how lost I feel. I could not understand how the objectively undeserving – those who are known to have committed crimes against the nation, who presented no concrete plans of action, who could show no accomplishment except their “loyalty” to one man, and those who are fencesitters– could win the votes of the Filipino people. Especially when these results – the consolidation of power and control in one man – are precisely what history has taught us to avoid, and what our laws and constitutional set-up were designed to prevent. I thought, surely the Filipinos knew better.

The confusion I felt eventually gave way to a deep and acute sense of disappointment. That, too, is a confusing feeling because it is hard to fathom who I am disappointed with. Definitely not the members of the Opposition Slate.

The Otso Diretso offered themselves up to serve the interests of the Filipino people – above all and with no reservations. They may have won no seats, but that is not their loss. It is our loss. We had a chance to elect brave, competent, independent-minded and compassionate people, who understood and were committed to the true meaning of “public service”, but we, as a nation, turned their offer down. To me and the millions who voted for Otso Diretso, it seemed like an obvious choice, but apparently not.

That huge gap between what we in the Opposition perceived and understood, and what the majority of the voters decided in the polls, allowed disappointment to give way to sobriety. Yes, it is another setback. Yes, this is no ordinary loss. But with loss comes the opportunity to learn. And we won’t learn anything if we let ourselves wallow in disappointment or give in to hopelessness.

This loss was hard. Painful. But we should not give up. Because this fight is perhaps the most important fight of our entire history as a nation. We are fighting for our future, our children’s future. We are fighting for our soul as a nation.

Hope exists not when the going is easy. Hope exists precisely for times like this. Hope exists as our most important defensive and offensive weapon. There will be no playing the blame game. There will, nevertheless, be a lot of reflection, a heightened resolve and, above all, the opening up of avenues of communications.

We live to fight another day. A long tough fight it is. But we will not give up. ###

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