As the nation commemorates the life of national hero Dr. Gat Jose Rizal today (Dec. 30), Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima urged Filipinos to emulate his courage and values by reawakening their sense of bravery in standing up against intimidation, injustices and hopelessness.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said her countrymen should inspire hope and courage in fighting the oppressors instead of promoting the use of brute force, which continues to be the tactic of the present administration.
“During this dark chapter in our history, when there is a prevailing culture of impunity and blatant attempts to desensitize us to violence and corruption, we are called upon to speak up, stand up and fight back,” she said.
“Let us inspire hope and courage to change the course of our history. Let us fulfill our duty to our country and fight for what is just and right to never again repeat the mistakes of the past,” she added.
Like Rizal, De Lima said Filipinos should not resort to silence amid growing threats to democracy and rampant human rights violation because “silence in the face of evil is itself evil.”
“There is a saying: ‘The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.'” she shared. “It further benefits the oppressor and burdens the oppressed. It helps tyrants and greedy officials to continue deceiving our people, steal from our national coffers, and run the country based on their whims.”
“Sa kabila ng tagumpay na nakamit sa edukasyon at propesyon, maaari sanang nanatili na lamang si Rizal sa ibang bansa o namuhay nang tahimik at matiwasay. Subalit pinili niyang isiwalat ang kabulukan sa umiiral na sistema, at tumindig laban sa mga mapang-abuso sa kapangyarihan,” she added.
De Lima noted that Rizal, who was executed at Bagumbayan (present day Luneta or Rizal Park) on December 30, 1986, stood up and defended the Philippines and his countrymen against the then abusive Spanish government in the Philippines, which resembles the present administration.
The lady Senator from Bicol said she hopes that the commemoration of the life and heroism of Rizal can remind Filipinos of the sacrifices of Rizal and their forefathers who fought for people’s rights and freedom to encourage them to follow their lead.
“Let us remember that anyone can be a hero; all it takes is to shed one’s apathy,” she said. “The times call for more patriots–true patriots who are ready to protect the country from the evil that has overtaken our government and nation.”