Fight creeping dictatorship, De Lima tells Filipinos

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Senator Leila M. de Lima has joined nationwide calls to resist creeping dictatorship under the leadership of President Duterte whom many believed to be a fascist similar to late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In her message read by former Rep. Erin Tañada during the multi-sectoral protest condemning Duterte’s authoritarian rule and brutal war on drugs last Sept. 21, De Lima said the country is already experiencing martial law even without a formal declaration by the President.

“Lahat ng kabulastugan, karahasan at mga patayang naganap sa nakalipas na mahigit isang taon, nangyari nang wala pa raw Martial Law. Isipin niyo nalang kung saan dadalhin ni Duterte ang bansa oras na may Batas Militar na sa buong Pilipinas,” she said.

“Kaya naman ituloy natin ang ating paninindigan para sa demokrasya. Ibinalik man ni Duterte sa madilim na kabanata ang ating bansa, nasa alab pa rin ng ating pagkakaisa ang panunumbalik ng liwanag at pag-asa,” she added.

It may be recalled that during martial law, human rights violations, corruption and disregard of civil liberties were rampant – which are no different from the occurrences in the Duterte regime.

Held at the Luneta Park during the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by Marcos last Sept. 21, thousands of protestors including the Free Leila Movement (FLM) group, student and church-affiliated groups, youth organizations, indigenous peoples, militant groups, families of other political prisoners in the country, and other non-government and civil society organizations, stood united to express their biggest condemnation of the injustices happening under the Duterte regime.

With banners held high bearing words such as “No to EJKs, No to Martial Law,” “Stop EJK, Justice for all victims,” and “Respect our right to life. It is a gift of God,” the protesters recited several chants like “Never again, Never again. Never again to Martial Law,” and “Giyera kontra droga salot pasista, ibasura,” among others, to express their disapproval of the present administration.

Despite the sudden downpour, the rallyists’ spirit remained high as they listened to speakers from different groups and political parties who took turns in speaking out against Duterte and his crooked policies.

The Movement Against Tyranny group, the protest’s organizer, placed the Luneta crowd estimate at 30,000.

Before reading the speech of De Lima, Tañada even reminded the crowd to fight without relent Duterte’s authoritarian regime. “Unti-unting bumabalik ang martial law. Binibilanggo ang mga politiko – tulad ni Sen. De Lima – na kumakalaban sa Pangulo. Hindi tayo dapat maduwag at ipakita natin na handa tayong lumaban lalo pa’t may mga Pinoy na hindi kayang ipagtanggol ang kanilang sarili,” he said.

In her message, De Lima noted that Duterte, who promised to fight corruption and crime by killing “criminals,” indeed brought about change in the country – but not for the better.

“Tama si Duterte. Kapag nanalo siyang Pangulo, darating ang pagbabago–pagbabagong kumitil ng mahigit 13,000 Pilipino, kabilang ang mga inosente at batang walang kalaban-laban. Pagbabagong pinapalaya ang mga politikong may matibay na kaso ng pandarambong. Pagbabagong sinasagasaan ang ating karapatan, pinatatahimik ang mga kritiko ng gobyerno, naghahasik ng kasinungalingan, sinusupil ang media, at tino-Tokhang ang katarungan,” she said.

De Lima also criticized Duterte’s disturbing silence on issues, such as the P6.4-billion drug shipment from China, which allegedly involves his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and the President’s obvious hands-off approach in dealing with the West Philippine Sea.

“Huwag mo kaming daanin sa biro, sa mura, sa pananakot at pagbabanta. Hindi lahat ng Pilipino, natutuwa sa iyong kapritso,” De Lima said, referring to the President.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said Duterte’s way of feeding his deep-seated machismo by spreading fake news about and attacking women like herself only shows his fear of women who dare oppose his policies.

A staunch critic of Duterte and his administration’s war on drugs, De Lima continues to fight for democracy and liberty even while in detention for trumped-up illegal drug trade charges.

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