In response to the incessant attacks against human rights defenders like Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has underscored the need for the public to continue fighting for the defenseless and not be defeated by fear.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, reminded that Mr. Duterte wants to instill fear among the citizenry by creating a violent society where no one is spared from the killings, regardless of his or her societal position.
“We must act now and continue to fight Duterte’s attacks on human rights defenders and critics. Duterte wants to instill fear among us by creating a violent society where anyone can be killed anytime,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 430.
“The threat is already pervasive, especially among those who continue to resist and oppose him. There is nothing sacred to him, not even a Bishop whose only fault is to care for the families of the victims of extra-judicial killings,” she added.
According to the lady Senator, Bishop David has incurred Duterte’s ire because of his relentless fight for the poor and the marginalized, adding that the President “hates those who love and care for the poor because he hates the poor.”
In Duterte’s previous speeches, it may be recalled that he falsely accused a certain “David” – whom many identified as the Caloocan Bishop – of stealing Church funds for personal use and having drug links because of his nightly rounds around his diocese.
More so, Duterte previously threatened to have the said “bishop’s” head cut off if it is proven that he is involved in illegal drug trade.
While she has found it unlikely for Mr. Duterte to pursue his threats against the Bishop, De Lima still underscored the need to defend David against the President’s sinister plan through defiance and resistance.
“Of course, it would be foolish for Duterte to martyr Bishop Ambo. It would be the end of him if he makes the mistake of carrying out his threat against the bishop,” she said. “Defy. Resist. Fight. This is the clarion call of the times.”
The former justice secretary however has only good words for Bishop David whom she described as among the few remaining leaders who have exemplified courage in defending the poor against Duterte’s drug war.
“He is a symbol of hope in these despairing times. He is a light in the darkness of Duterte’s reign of murder and bloodshed. He embodies the prayer for a future that is free from the clutches of a murderous tyrant,” she said.
“Because of this, I, too, stand with Bishop Ambo in his fight for the poor and the powerless,” she added.