Fighting for Justice and Dignity


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On the assembly and induction of officers of Pilipinas Kong Mahal United Coalition

Bacolod City

22 January 2017

Good day to all. Thank you very much to all the organizers, especially to the members and leaders of Pilipinas Kong Mahal, for making this event possible.

During these challenging times, the chance to spend time with kindhearted people and very supportive people like you lifts up my spirit and reminds me why I continue fighting the good fight. I will continue fighting. (Applause) I thank you all for being here, kahit nga po Linggo ngayon, it’s a Sunday, it’s a good day, and I know you would like to relax or spend time with your family. Still, you chose to give me your time and show your support and encouragement.

In the face of everything that is happening in the Philippines today, these kinds of gatherings are concrete proof that there are still a lot of open-minded people from different sectors of society who are dedicated and ready to uphold democracy, justice, and human rights.

Dahil po sa inyo, lumalakas ang loob ko. (Applause) Sabi nga ho kanina ni Tito Robert, anuman ang ibato nilang paninira, tuloy lang po ako sa trabaho. Sulit ang pagod at sakripisyo dahil kasama ko kayong nakikipaglaban. Makakaasa po kaya ako na kasama ko kayo sa aking laban? (Applause)

Kilala ang Bacolod bilang “The City of Smiles.” Sa tood lang: sa pagbisita ko diri, sa yuhum n’yo pa lang, nabatyagan ko ang inyo pagpalangga kag pag ugyon niyo sa akon. Madamo gid nga salamat.[1] (Applause)

And as everyone here realizes, I am perhaps most well known today for having invited upon myself the ire of President Duterte and the entire administration. My stance as an advocate for justice and human rights—my desire to simply do my duty—has become the reason why the most powerful man in the country and his allies are waging a vendetta on me.

It is clear he has not forgotten the days when I investigated the rampant killings in Davao City, attributed to the so-called Davao Death Squad. Hindi niya po yun nakalimutan. He would never forget that, and he would never forgive me for going there to Davao City and dare investigate him in his roledun sa mga tinatawag na DDS killings. Not to mention the fact that now, as a Senator, I initiated an inquiry into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country. But that cost me my chairmanship of my committee, the Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Siyempre, masakit po yun sa akin kasi yan po ang aking mga core advocaies—hustisya at karapatang pantao. Justice and human rights—these are my core competencies. These are the advocacies closest to my heart: human rights and justice. Kaya nga po, yun po ang in-aspire ko pag nanalo po tayo sa eleksyon, na maging chairperson ng Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights. But dahil nga po sa ginawa natin, na pinaimbestiga natin yung EJKs, at prinisenta po natin bilang witness si Mr. Edgar Matobato, I was ousted from that role. And to be honest, it’s really painful for me. But I accept that it is more a numbers game in the Senate. That it is, what I call, the tyranny of the majority.

As the most outspoken critic of President Duterte, I am also the most maligned, the most demonized, and as Senator Ping Lacson put it, “the most wiretapped” public figure in the country today.Hindi nga lang country ang pagkasabi ata ni Senator Ping, sabi pa niya: the most wiretapped in planet Earth. I think it is not even a joke. I know he meant it to be a joke, but I didn’t take it as a joke. Wiretapping certain public figures now seems to be a priority of our law enforcers or state agents.

Wala naman ho kasi silang pakialam kung ano yung nasa batas. They consistently defy the rule of law. Grabe po ang panggigipit nila. Sobra na nga ang paninira nila sa akin sa publiko, pati pribado kong buhay at ng aking pamilya, dinadamay pa.

What else can we expect from a President who seems to have lost his conscience and his reason to Fentanyl, an extremely powerful drug that he admitted to use for his medication? What can we expect from a President who is used to having his way, no matter what the law says, and who seems to be drunk with power? What can we expect from a President who seems to have no plan to stop the killings today, and instead, continues to encourage it and excuse it?

Ang abi guru sang presidente sa kaugalingon niya hari—kung ano gusto niya, amo na ang masunod.[2]

What else should I expect from the President, if he himself publicly stated: “I will destroy you”? What else should I expect from a man who has told me, quite bluntly, to go hang myself? I think yung iba sa inyo narinig din yung mga sinabi niya na yun. “I will destroy you.” “You will never win this.” “Go hang yourself.”

At nakikita na nga natin ang sagot. Araw-araw na lang, kaliwa’t kanan ang mga bangkay na natatagpuan sa mga lansangan, lalo na sa Metro Manila.

They put the law and justice into their hands by killing small time drug users and pushers who belong to the poorest of the poor, the ones living in the slum communities and depressed areas.

A Rappler article said that since July 1, 2016—magugulat po kayo kasi yung figures nga po na nakalagay dito sa speech ko nung isang araw, mas mababa. Ngayon mas mataas na. This was just updated. Since July 1, 2016, there have already been 7,025 men, women, and children killed as a result of the so-called war on drugs. Nung isang araw 6,775 pa lang yan. As of last night, I think it’s now 7,025, 2,500 of which are suspected drug personalities killed in police operations, as of January 17; and3,603 victims in cases of deaths under investigation, including the vigilante killings, as of January 9.[3]

Pag-isipan ho natin yun. Just think: more than 7,025 corpses, and we are only in the seventh month of this administration. Talo pa ho yung mga pinatay o namatay nung Martial Law era, mga 3,000 plus. And kahit i-combine niyo po yung mga cases of EJKs or EJK victims nung mga nakaraan na mga administrasyon from Cory Aquino, to FVR, to Erap, to GMA, to PNoy, combined. Talong-talo na ho yung data on EJKs. But only after seven months under the bloodthirsty Duterte administration, almost 1,000 people killed each month, or more than 30 people killed each day.

Katanggap-tanggap ho ba yun? This is inhuman, abhorrent, and despicable. This is terrifying.Ewan ko po sa inyo, ako, natatakot po ako rito. Hindi ho ba dapat matakot tayo? Ano ho ba yung sinasabi nila na it brings to the community because the bad people, the bad guys are gone? Anong klase po yun? Does it really bring genuine peace in the community if there are dead people everyday, creating a culture of fear in the community?

Ilan pa ba ang mamamatay bago magising sa katotohanan ang mga pinuno natin? Ilan pang inosente—dumadami na po yung so-called collateral damage—ilan pa hong inosente ang madadamay bago magising sa pananahimik ang marami nating kababayan?

Can we not hear the cries of the bereaved families whose father, mother, son, daughter, or siblings have been shot dead?

Can we not see the violence and injustice happening in the streets in which even innocent victims have fallen, including aged 4, 5 and 7-year-old children? “Collateral damage”, walang mga kamuwang-muwang. They were just there at the wrong time, at the wrong place, when somebody in their family was gunned down by these death squads. Look at that, 5, 4, 7 years old.

Have we been desensitized? Do we still pretend to feel safe, even if there seems to be evidence and growing international concern that we are turning into a barbaric society?

Putting aside the fact that our President has made offensive jokes about rape and curses in public habitually, and engages in misogynistic behavior, or sexist behavior na namamana ng ilan-ilan sa ating honorable congressmen. Look at how they conducted or handled the so-called House inquiry into the Bilibid drug trade. Seryoso kaya sila doon sa imbestigasyon nila into the so-called Bilibid drug trade? Ang pagkakaalam ko ho noon, dati na ho yan inimbestigahan by the House Committee on Justice. I was the Secretary of Justice when they conducted a series, also, of hearings right there in the Bilbid.Sinamahan ko rin sila na mga members na yan ng Justice Committee nung nag-ocular inspection sila sa Bilibid.

And some of them are the very same congressmen who were lording it over in that House inquiryna doon sa mga kabastusan ng mga linya ng kanilang questioning on certain resource persons in that House inquiry. Because yung agenda ho ng so-called inquiry na yan hindi naman ho para malaman ang katotohanan dun sa proliferation ng drug trade in the penitentiary, kundi pahiyain lang si Leila de Lima. And that is the very reason, ladies and gentleman, why I refused to participate in that inquiry. Alam ko na ho yung mangyayari. Babastusin lang ako nang husto dun. Ano ho ba yung objective nila? Para masira ang kredibilidad, para takutin si Leila de Lima, para tumahimik na lang po siya.Misogynistic behavior of some of our leaders. Sexist, offensive behavior. Naturingan pa man din sila na mga honourable congressmen.

Our children are growing up in an environment where it is okay to kill and see dead bodies all the time. This is the present we are living through: When you have no money or connections, when the door to your house—a shanty—can easily be broken down, you are murdered in cold blood.

Yet when you are connected with a powerful political figure, who can ask for a private meeting with the President, you are not even investigated for being present at a drug den. At nasan na po yung sinasabing big-time drug lord na yun na nakipag-meeting pa sa Pangulo? Kinasuhan na ho ba siya? Tumakas na ho yata.

Clearly, this so-called war on drugs has become anti-poor, in the same manner that the re-imposition of the death penalty would also be anti-poor. Once sentenced, convicted individuals who are poor cannot defend themselves or challenge their convictions because they have no lawyers or good lawyers. Walang pambayad kaya’t walang makapag-asikaso sa kanilang mga kaso.

My prior experience as Secretary of Justice gave me a clear picture of what more needs to be done. Our system is riddled with gaps and pitfalls, and is susceptible to the miscarriage of justice. Ang pinaka-numero ko pong dahilan kung bakit kontrang-kontra po ako diyan, sa death penalty na yan, ay dahil nga kapag ginawa na at ito ay naipataw sa isang inosenteng tao pala, mababawi pa kaya yun? It is irreversible.

And on the issue of wrongful convictions, the Supreme Court’s review of capital cases up to January 2006 revealed that four out of five death inmates have been wrongfully sentenced by the various lower courts. Of the 1,513 cases reviewed, almost half or 645 were modified from death penalty to reclusion perpetua or indeterminate sentence, close to a third, 456, were transferred to the Court of Appeals, 69 were acquitted, and 37 cases were remanded for further proceedings. Only 270 cases or 18 percent only reviewed were affirmed by the high court.[4] 18 percent, so yung iba, mali yung pagpataw sa death penalty. So it’s 82 percent yung mali ang pagpataw ng death penalty upon review by the Supreme Court.

What we need is to ensure the swift delivery of justice—and this does not mean killing, whether extrajudicial or sanctioned by the re-imposition of the death penalty. Ang kailangan lang po ay swift delivery of justice, certainty of arrest, certainty of punishment. Hindi po natin kailangan ang death penalty.

Many of the people who have been killed in the administration’s war on drugs were only suspected to be connected to drugs. Some were sentenced criminals by signs made of cardboard. The past few months have shown us the gravity of the fact that we cannot bring the dead back to life. We cannot atone for the wrongful deaths of those who did not even get a chance to prove their innocence.

Kasi nga ho yung EJKs, mas grabe pa sa death penalty. Dahil sa death penalty, dadaan pa sa proseso. Pero yung EJKs, wala. Summary execution, and some people are playing god. And that is definitely wrong.

This is why I stand firm in my opposition against both EJKs and the death penalty. I strongly believe that both are discriminatory to the poor. These are un-Christian, apart from the important fact that the death penalty or EJK has not been shown to reduce crime. Ano pong sinasabi nila na bumababa na daw po ang istatistika ng krimen mula nung inumpisahan nila itong sinasabi nilang Operation Tokhang, and then yung mga operations na yan which result to death and killings? How can they say that criminality—or the peace and order situation has improved when there are more dead bodies? Ano ho bang tawag dun? Di ba homicide or murder. So homicide, murder, these are against the law, against the Revised Penal Code, against the Constitution. So anong peace and order ang sinasabi nila? There cannot be peace and order if you violated the law. That’s very clear.

Tini-twist-twist kasi nila yung mga ganyan eh in trying to convince people, in trying to justify what they’re doing. Pero nakita niyo naman, takot na takot kapag sinasabi natin, kapag wina-warningan natin na kung hindi niyo ihinto yan, yang pagpapatay niyo araw-araw, be ready to face the consequence, maybe not now, but in the future. Be ready for interventions coming from international tribunals, for example, the ICC or the International Criminal Court. They’re monitoring already the situation here. So puwedeng makalusot sila under our own legal mechanisms, pero makakalusot kaya sila sa ICC? Kayo na lang po ang sumagot niyan.

Others who push for the re-imposition of the death penalty even used the Bible to legitimize capital punishment. (Laughter) Alam niyo na po siguro kung sino yun. Kahit daw po si Hesukristo ay na-death penalty. Ang sa akin lang po, nung binitay ho ba si Kristo o pinatay si Hesukristo, may kasalanan ho ba siya? Ano hong klaseng argument yun for death penalty? (Laughter) Si Hesukristo ba may tunay na may sala?

This is why amid calls to reinstate the death penalty here in the Philippines, I filed a bill introducing a new penalty of imprisonment: qualified reclusion perpetua. It’s sort of an alternative punishment to death penalty. Huwag lang death penalty. Dagdagan lang. Impose stiffer punishment for those convicted of extraordinary heinous crimes without having to deal with the problems that beset the death penalty system.

And still about the death penalty, hindi ho ba mismong ang ating Pope Francis, ang sabi niya talaga, the fifth commandment, “Thou shall not kill” applies to both the innocent and the guilty.Klarado ho na mensahe yan ni Pope Francis. Ano no crime ever deserved killing another human being.Siguro naman karamihan sa atin dito Katoliko. Siguro naman ho karamihan sa atin dito ay Christians. Naniniwala tayo sa inviolability and sanctity of life. So hindi ho tayo dapat tumanggap ng kung anumang argumento in favor of the reimposition of death penalty.

Let me borrow the words of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., in order to explain why I have never believed that peace and order can be achieved through violent means. In a book, he wrote:

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

Malinaw po sa ating kasaysayan: Walang ibang naidudulot ang pagmamalupit at karahasan, kundi karahasan din.

I know, many of you, like me, are already frustrated with this administration’s failure to deliver its campaign promises.

Maayo lang sila sa paglapta sang mga binutig, sa mga sala nga impormasyon, kag pang into sa mga katawhan.[5]

Pito na sila ka bulan sa puwesto. Ano na ang na ubra nila? Karahasan. Patayan. Pag depensa sa mga tao nga gapatay sa mga wala bato.[6]

This is why I urge the Filipino people to remain vigilant.

Hindi puwedeng lagi na lang silang magpapalusot o kung may isyu silang gustong iwasan, maninisi sila ng iba.

Nasanay na siguro ang Pangulo na kapag wala nang ibang isagot, puro “kasalanan yan ni De Lima” nalang ang sinasabi niya. (Laughter) Or could this be their tactic to confuse the public? I’m talking about “kasalanan yan ni Leila de Lima”.

Kapag ho may nangyayari, katulad nung latest jailbreak sa Cotabato, akala ko sa akin na naman ituturo yun. Pag may bomb scare, akala ko sa akin din ituturo. Kasi hindi lang daw ako the drug trade queen in the country today, kundi leading narcopolitician, and then narcoterrorist pa raw ako. Seryoso po. Meron pong kaso…I have one of those cases. Alam niyo po ang dami ko na pong kaso, siguro 16 na po. At isa sa mga kaso sa Ombudsman, violation of the Terrorism Financing Act. So ako ngayon ang leading terrorist of the country. And that’s why that SolGen tags me as “public enemy no. 1”. Mga sira-ulo, ano ho. (Laugther) Mga loonies. (Applause)

I have long felt that they are trying to make an example out of me—anyone who will go against them will be silenced and humiliated. By putting me in the spotlight, they are trying to distract public attention from the real and dire state of the nation. The proliferation of fake news has made matters worse. Isang problema ho natin yan, mga fake news. Napakadami po.

Back in September, when I was told that there are news report that literally the Queen herself, that is, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, had “expressed her joy” over reports that the so-called “Philippines Senate” had removed me as a member, going so far as to “congratulate” my fellow senators for having ousted me because I obviously, “should be dealt with” because I allegedly “wanted to bring confusion in Duterte’s government[7]”—Isa po yan sa mga pinaka-unang fake news na ginawa nila para sa akin.

And upon seeing that, I was torn between being flattered to know that my profile was so high that news of my ouster ranks high in Her Majesty’s foreign affairs agenda (Laughter), or just plain confused because I was, and am still, very much a Senator of the Republic. That was definitely one fake news that was so obviously fake that I would have simply laughed it off if it weren’t for the possibility that even one of our person had been led to believe it.

Yan po kasi ang problema sa mga fake news, meron din po kasing mga ilan-ilan na naniniwala agad.

But when other fake news started getting more and more attention, and got more and more fake and dangerous in its ability to spread propaganda, I quickly realized that we have gotten to the point where it is not even close to being a laughing matter anymore.

Kung ano-anong iniimbento nila laban sa akin, sa pamilya ko, sa anak ko, sa kapatid ko, kahit sa pamangkin ko. Pinakita ho sa akin ang listahan ng aking Comms Group yung mga fake news tungkol sa akin. More than 30 fake news na pala. Akala ko, hindi pa aabot ng sampu. Just to cite examples, examples lang po kasi napakarami pang iba.

“Leila de Lima resigns as a Senator”; “NBI confirms Leila de Lima is the Queen of all drug lords in Philippines and pork barrel”; “De Lima on tight security after attempting suicide”; “De Lima’s sister, Caroline De Lima arrested in China for drug trafficking”; De Lima’s son arrested at airport—Berlin airport ang nakalagay sa balita na yan—with 50 kgs of drugs”; “Bagman at pamangkin ni Sen. De Lima dawit sa kalakaran ng droga”.

Ilan-ilang lang po yan sa mga pinakakalat nila na fake news. And it isn’t just me or my family, fake news is also damaging, not just political careers, but serious advocacies that seek to protect the national interest by undermining the integrity of advocates like myself and Senator Trillanes, who, in one website are accused of having receiving a P500-million peso check from me, which he allegedly used to pay for political ads against the President during the election period[8] dahil nga daw Bilibid drug trade ako, napakadami pera ko, sabi ni Aguirre ang aking assets daw po ay 12 to 15 billion pesos. Ganun sila kasinugaling. Ganun sila kasama sa mga kasinungalingan nila. That website claims this to be “viral news”, yung tungkol dun sa P500-million check to Senator Sonny, but is actually just a personal blog that lures people to click and visit it so that its owner can make money from the lies it publishes.

Even the Ombudsman has been the subject—or more like victim—of fake news. Ayon po sa isang headline, “Sabwatang De Lima at Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Nabunyag Na!!” May dalawangexclamation points pa. At nag-aanyaya pang “Alamin” ang istoryang naka-tag na “local news”, “news” or “video” kuno, pero wala namang video na mapapanood. That site even has the guts to hold itself out to the cyberspace public as a “social news” site publishing “breaking news”, but, curiously does not even state a date or time stamp for its article, or even the name of the author or contributor and, worse, contains a moronic disclaimer that it “cannot guarantee the legitimacy of some of the information” it publishes on its own site.

It is good that my colleagues, Senators Kiko Pangilinan and Sonny Trillanes have already filed Senate resolutions which seek to conduct an inquiry on the spate of fake news in social media. I am wholeheartedly supporting these, and in fact, I might deliver a privilege speech on this this coming week.

All these fake news aim to counteract the critical news coverage that the Duterte administration has received from the beginning. News coverage that, I might add, is accurate and well-documented. Remember the deceptive and insulting Marcos burial? The thousands who have died in the streets? The huge increase in the intel funds of the Office of the President? The alleged bribery attempt by Chinese businessman Jack Lam to former BI Associate Commissioners?

And now the “Tokhang for ransom” issue? This issue that is more than just an example of how evil elements are still operating in the guise of our law enforcers, but, more importantly, a display of how the blind faith and blanket license to kill given by the President is not just an ineffective means to address the illegal drugs problem, but, worse, one that creates a moral vacuum that allows graver crimes to be committed in the name of the law. Our public interest, in effect, is being used as an alibi for the rampant commission of crimes. We are being kidnapped, robbed and butchered allegedly in our own interest.

And yang kaso na yan, especially involving that Korean, the killing of that Korean, yung “Tokhang for ransom”. That to me is a damning proof that it’s the police that is behind these death squads. Yang mga involved diyan sa Tokhang for ransom na yan, sa Korean na yan, these are officials and personnel of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Unit itself of the PNP. And that Korean was killed right there inside Camp Crame. Hindi naman ho yata Camp Crame yan, Camp Crime na. (Laughter) Imagine that. So what is this? Yan po kasi ang sinasabi ko eh.

If you give license to the police to be undertaking those summary executions, then you are also giving them license to do more abuses, lalo na na pinagtatakpan sila, dinedepensahan sila, pinoprotektahan sila by no less than the President. Remember the Espinosa killing? May finding dun yung NBI na that was really execution. But anong sabi ng Pangulo? “Naniniwala ako dun sa mga pulis na yun.” So what else can they expect?

These are the contentious issue that need to be tackled. These have divided our people and our society. Even us in the Senate have had heated debates about these issues. Ang masaklap, humahantong pa ang pagtatalo namin sa Senado sa personalan, yung mga ilan-ilan diyan nagkaka-personalan na.

What further adds to the public confusion is the President’s constantly changing pronouncements. Even his spokespersons use their “creative imagination” to interpret the President’s statements.

Talo pa ni Pangulong Duterte ang mga Miss Universe contestants dahil siya, laging may mga interpreters. (Applause)

One of them even blasted the media for their alleged irresponsible reporting on Duterte’s Martial Law remarks—when there was ample documentation to show that no misquoting had taken place.

Kasi sabi mini-misquote lang palagi daw ng media ang Pangulo. Eh klarado naman ho yung mga lumalabas sa bibig ng ating Pangulo.

And as you very well know, they are also pushing for federalism. Tinatanong po ako dito kung ako daw po ay in favor of charter change. Ang sagot ko po: Under ideal circumstances, we can perhaps be assured that charter change will be undertaken solely to further the interests of the Filipino people.

But these are not ideal circumstances to say the least. It’s the worst time to tinker with our Constitution. It’s too big a risk, especially given the kind of power-hungry, abusive and morally bankrupt leaders calling the shots these days. I cannot trust a regime with authoritarian and oppressive tendencies, and propensity to engage in outright lies and deceptions to initiate changes in our Constitution.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even trust this government with the responsibility of looking after my beloved dogs, (Laughter) trese po ang aking mga aso—let alone with messing with the Fundamental Law of my beloved country.

Maganda nga po siguro ang layunin nito, pero kaduda-duda naman ang mga nasa likod ng nagsusulong ng Federalismo: mga politikong dati nang umabuso sa kapangyarihan at gusto ulit maghari-harian.

Rest assured that as Senator, I will be a critical voice in discussing this bill. The relentless attacks against my character have not kept me from actively participating in floor debates and public hearings. Like some of my fellow Senators, I am focused on ensuring that the laws we produce will deliver the greatest benefit to the Filipino people.

I would ask your help in doing my job: If you see that the administration is doing the right thing, then let’s acknowledge it. At the same time, if we see wrong—if we see them working against the Filipino people, let’s make our voices heard. (Applause)

Hindi tayo puwedeng manahimik lang. Sabi nga po ni Fr. Robert Reyes, what he sees now is the evil of silence, not just the evil of impunity. Hindi tayo puwedeng magbulag-bulagan habang buhay.

And allow me to quote another author. Professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who passed away in July of last year, once wrote:

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”

We have to fight for the rights, not only of ourselves, but also the rights of others—especially those who cannot defend themselves, like those being killed everyday. We have to stand for the rights of all, because if we do not, we are making it easier for our own rights to be abused.

I urge the public. Let your voices be heard. Use media coverage to understand the issues. Do not abuse or misuse social media. There are so many lies and propaganda in social media resulting to a culture of hate. Do not be a part of this. Use your freedom of speech to educate and to enlighten. Use it always with due regard for the rights of others and for the good of our country.

I believe that none of us here want glory or fame. As Filipinos, I know that we want the same things: justice, peace and order, integrity in government. And I know that we will do our part to ensure that we save our country. (Applause)

Hindi po natin hahayaang masira nang tuluyan ang ating lipunan. Gawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya upang ipaglaban ang tama. Gaya ninyo, hindi ko tatalikuran ang aking mga kababayan, bansa, at Panginoon.

Ano man ka bug at ang pagtilaw, mabato ko sa pinaka ulihi ko nga ginhawa, tindugan ko ang kung ano ang tsakto, kung ano ang kamatuuran, nga may hustisya, kag demokrasya. tindugan ko ang bilog nga Filipino, matindog ko upod sa inyo. Madamo gid nga salamat.[9]Maraming salamat po. (Applause)

Privilege Speech

Senate Session Hall

 24 January 2017


The Rise of Fake News and the Death Knell

for Philippine Democracy



I rise on a matter of personal privilege and public interest.

As a freshman Senator and as the favourite whipping girl of the current Administration, I must say that I have learned a lot about myself in the last seven months.  Talagang nakagugulat mapagtanto kung gaano karaming bagay pala ang hindi ko pa pala nalalaman tungkol sa sarili ko.

          Mabuti na lamang at nandiyan ang Internet, lalo na ang social media, para ipaalam at ikwento sa’kin ang mga importanteng bagay at kaganapan sa buhay ko.

          Halimbawa na lamang, nalaman kong nag-­resign na pala ako bilang Senador.[10]  Imagine that.  I never even knew that I had tendered my resignation until someone showed me an article published online.  Thank you,  No, not CNN as in “Cable News Network”, but ccn-alive as in “Carl Nixon Newton All Alive”, whoever that may be.

          Maybe my resignation had something to do with the other (quote, unquote) news about my election as the new U.N. Secretary General to replace outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.[11]  That’s really news to me, but maybe it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise because, as I also discovered online, I apparently have such a high profile on a global scale that world leaders like Queen Elizabeth II and then US President Barack Obama all felt compelled to comment on the status of my career and mental health.  So much so that, back on September 19, 2006, Queen Elizabeth II personally expressed her “joy” and congratulations to you, my colleagues in the Senate, for successfully ousting me because, after all, as reported by the so-called news article, I “wanted to bring confusion in Duterte’s government” and, therefore, I obviously “should be dealt with”.[12]   

Former President Obama, for his part, is quoted by an article published on the site as saying that I must be “abnormal” for not appreciating the extrajudicial killings being committed in the name of the so-called “War on Drugs” as “the good thing leaders are doing to this world.”[13]  To that, I could only respond, in the parlance of our times, “Eh di wow.

          Aside from those (quote, unquote) “news” stories about my career, I also learned some shocking “news” about my personal life.  I apparently attempted to commit suicide.  Thanks to a webpage that came complete with advertisements for an online shopping site and invitations to like and/or join “Pres. Rody Duterte Worldwide”, “Duterte-Marcos Tandem” and “Pres. Rody Duterte ‘The Real Change’Group” pages on facebook;[14] and another article published by, [15] I found out some interesting information about my suicide attempt.  It’s starting to look like President Duterte’s supporters care more about my welfare than they let on, given how much information they know about me that I myself had no clue about!  How so very touching.

          Another that should have not surprised me was a headline that reads DOJ Sec. Aguirre sinapak si De Lima, De Lima natulala.”[16]  After all, it is well known that Secretary Aguirre has disrespected another Lady Senator at least once before in his legal career.

          These are all fake news articles, of course.

          I sincerely hope it wasn’t that hard to figure out because these ones are so downright absurd that, a few months ago, I would have simply laughed them off or waved them aside, believing that no self-respecting person would fall for them, let alone be associated with the embarrassing act of spreading them around.  After all, I am far from being the only person, or even Senator, to be targeted by fake news.

For instance, back in the day, about 6 years ago – I don’t know if he knows this, but – there was a so-called “Ping Lacson Tracker” that was put up on the website of MosquitoPress’s tumblr page[17].  It asked and purported to provide the answer to the simple but nagging question that once preoccupied the entire Filipino nation’s mind, including yours truly’s, that is, “Where has Sen. Ping Lacson been hiding?” The site invited visitors to “Click through to use MosquitoPress’s Ping Lacson Finder!”, which consists of an interactive Google map view of the Philippines, with various locations marked up, along with the instructions to “Click on the blue pins to see details of the Ping Lacson sighting.”  Eleven locations are pinned, with accompanying details that explain what Senator Lacson was supposedly doing in each.  For instance, in Siargao Islands, he was “surfing”; in Albay, he was (quote, unquote) “playing with Mt. Mayon’s…” ahem, peak; somewhere off the coast of Donsol, he was “making friends with a butanding”; to the South, he was supposedly “riding Asia’s longest zip line” in Bukidnon and, I kid you not, supposedly “working for the Davao Death Squad”.  My personal favourite, however, is perhaps his supposed skill for multitasking while in Metro Manila, where he was “partying” while, at the same time, “Hiding under Leila de Lima’s nose.” 

At least that page was obviously meant to be a joke, and I am pretty sure no one tried to ask Senator Lacson to confirm or deny any of these alleged activities.  The same, however, cannot be said about the satirical piece that once plagued Senator Jinggoy Ejercito back in November of 2013, when his camp was forced to acknowledge and deny the fake “news” that he was arrested in the US after he was caught trying to smuggle millions of pesos that were surgically implanted in his breasts,[18] after the article was picked up by mainstream media.

But things are getting much, much worse. 

Kung ano-anong iniimbento nila laban sa akin, sa pamilya ko, sa anak ko, sa kapatid ko, kahit sa pamangkin ko.

“NBI confirms Leila de Lima is the Queen of all drug lords in Philippines and pork barrel,”[19] “Leila de Lima does pole dancing in front of Jaybee Sebastian in Bilibid,”[20] “Leila De Lima thrown out of conference hall in Berlin Germany,”[21] “De Lima’s sister Caroline De Lima arrested in China for drug trafficking,”[22] “De Lima’s son arrested at airport with 50kgs of drugs,”[23] “Bagman at pamangkin ni Sen. De Lima dawit sa kalakaran ng droga.”[24]

I am fortunate to have the strength to stand up and defend myself, but my relatives and family members who have done nothing to deserve being at the receiving end of these lies should not have to be obliged to even acknowledge these lies.  More importantly, I will not stand here and wait for them to invent hurtful and damaging rumors about my special child, Israel, or my ailing mother.  I am here to say, enough is enough.

And it isn’t just me or my family. The rush of fake news is complemented and sustained by spurious accounts, or the so-called “trolls,” who vigorously disseminate and promote fake news in social media, as if these are gospel truth.

Sila ang tagapagtanggol ng kasinungalingan at mga nang-aapi. Wala po silang pinapalampas: sa kababaihan nga, mas malala at mas matindi pa ang pambabastos at pagpapahiya nila sa social media.

          Sinuman ang makipagdiskurso nang maayos, babantaan nila: “Mamatay ka na sana pati magulang mo,” “ma-rape ka sana at yung anak mo.” Di pa nakuntento, may nagkakalat pang isa kang prostitute, o babaeng nagpa-abort.

Have we lost our sense of decency and respect? 

Fake news is also damaging political careers and serious advocacies that seek to protect the national interest by undermining the integrity of advocates like myself and Senator Trillanes, who one website accused of having receiving a P500 Million peso check from me, which he allegedly used to pay for political ads against the President during the election period.[25]  The website claims this to be “viral news”, but is actually just a personal blog that lures people to click and visit it so that its owner can make money from the lies it publishes.

Even the Ombudsman has been the victim of fake news.  Ayon sa isang headline, Sabwatang De Lima at Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Nabunyag Na!!”  May dalawang exclamation points pa! At nag-aanyaya pang “Alamin” ang istoryang naka-tag na “local news”, “news” at “video” kuno, pero wala namang video na mapapanood! That site even has the guts to hold itself out to the cyberspace public as a “social news” site publishing “breaking news”, but, curiously does not even state a date or time stamp for its article, or even the name of the author or contributor and, worse, contains a moronic disclaimer that it “cannot guarantee the legitimacy of some of the information” it publishes on its own site.

          I bring these up in order to demonstrate a clear pattern of escalation here.  Fake news went from being so absurd that it cannot be taken seriously, to something that is getting more and more indistinguishable from the real thing – so much so that netizens, public officials, and even seasoned journalists are falling for them.  Even the conscious act of compiling fake news articles is becoming tricky because these fake news sites are not named satirically like “The Adobo Chronicles”, but are mimicking legitimate news outfits like BBC and CNN.

But what is most disturbing – and the reason why I am standing here today bringing it front and center of the attention of the Senate and of the nation – is the evident fact that this escalation is not happening by chance.   Fake news articles these days are, in fact, deliberately being manufactured, delivered and spread around in ways that disguise their fakeness, with the clear intent to fool people.  

We only need to ask “cui prodest”?  Whom does it profit? Sino ang nakikinabang sa mga kasinungalingang ito?  For he who derives advantage from these fake news is the one most likely to be actively working towards its proliferation.

If we even stop for a moment and think about it, it does not take a genius to know that these are all connected —

The so-called “war on drugs”, which is really nothing but a continuing shameless, dishonourable, cowardly and lazy act of serial killing and butchering of the vulnerable, the poor, our economically and socially challenged brothers and sisters by the very people who are responsible for their well-being; 

The apparent downplaying, if not attempted whitewashing, of the apparent involvement of certain personalities in questionable, if not downright criminal activities, such as the alleged unsuccessful bribery attempts made by Jack Lam, or the fading into obscurity of the inclusion of Peter Lim in the President’s drug list;

The Duterte administration’s curious and suspicious cowering and kowtowing to Chinese authorities – even conveniently forgetting that, back in April 2016, when he was still a candidate courting the people’s votes, he claimed that, if China refuses to honor the arbitration ruling regarding the West Philippines Sea, he will ask the Philippine Navy to bring him to the boundary of the Spratlys so he can “ride a jet ski while bringing the Philippine flag,” so that he can plant the Philippine flag on the reclaimed land in the Spratlys[26];  and even denying inconvenient truths, such as the real source of the illegal drugs flowing into our country and, thus, the real identity of those who are reaping the economic benefits of the illegal drug trade[27];

Even the reality that the blind faith and license to kill that Duterte has given his police officers is not really solving our criminality problems or even really strengthening our law enforcement agencies, but is, in fact, creating a moral vacuum that enables corrupt and evil elements in the police force to prey on people – such as the rise of tokhang-for-ransom incidents – and, thus, further weaken the people’s trust and confidence in the police;

The murmurs and whispers about Martial Law that are growing louder and louder every day, and becoming more and more of an overt threat on our rights, freedoms, security and democratic way of life;

These are all connected to the proliferation of fake news. 

Fake news, the outrageous, the half-truths, the outright lies, the misleading headlines, and even the crass jokes and the profanity that accompany the President’s every appearance on our television screens – these are all nothing but the sticks that make up the broom that this Administration and its supporters use to sweep under the rug their crimes, their incompetencies, their laziness, their lack of dedication to the public’s interests, their broken campaign promises that are, apparently, nothing more than empty boasts, and their betrayal of our independence in favor of their newly minted foreign BFFs (“best friends forever”).

And I am standing here today to say that I am not fooled, at hindi ako papayag na patuloy maloko ang mga tao. 

That is what makes it a matter needing legislative attention from the Senate: because fake news has become, and has been for a while, a weapon that is being wielded against the Filipino people and their exercise of their rights, freedoms and the enjoyment of their democratic way of life?  Hindi po ako nagiging eksaherado.  This is serious business. 

Democracy is the power of choice; and that power belongs to the Filipino people. 

The true value of that power of choice is its ability to address and solve the real conditions, problems and challenges that are facing our people.  Anong uri, kalidad at klase ng mga desisyon sa buhay at pagpapalakad sa Estado ang magagawa natin kung puro kasinungalingan ang ipinapalunon sa atin?  In other words, the power of choice must be based on accurate information, and it is useless if it based on false information.  Need I remind my colleagues in the Senate that our role as lawmakers and, indeed, as one of the safeguards against grave abuses that may be committed by the other branches of government, including an arbitrary, whimsical or capricious declaration of Martial Law, heavily relies on the accuracy of the information we know to be true or factually established? 

Now, we are faced with the situation where there are elements in our society who are deliberately poisoning the well of information that is readily available to the Filipino people and to us, their public servants. 

          Certainly, fake news is old news.  We’ve known it all our lives, albeit by different names: some may call it a joke, some may call it speculation or rumors – but if it is used to subvert the Rule of Law, the mandate of the Constitution, the true welfare of the people, and is being used to perpetuate a false idea of the status quo, then it is something more sinister, and one that has been in existence since the dawn of society: it is nothing more, and nothing less than propaganda.  Puro pagpapaganda sa sarili, at puro paninira sa kapwa.

          As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.  With this fake news epidemic we are experiencing, we’re in a very real danger of not just losing eye, limb or even life, but of gouging out our own fundamental rights and freedoms, the safeguards from abuse and authoritarian rule and all the other benefits of democracy that we once secured for ourselves through our Constitution, but now seem to take for granted.

Ika nga, ang katotohanan at demokrasya ay parang pag-ibig, you don’t know what a great thing you have until you lose it. Our rights and freedoms are like the devoted girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, parent or family member you always took for granted: you know how good they are for you, and how your world will crumble without them, but you neglected them because you never thought they’d ever leave you. 

But leave you they will.

Every lie, every piece of fake news, every form of propaganda that is manufactured and shared by people is like a disease or a poison that will kill everything that is good and just about our beautiful nation. It does not matter that not everyone is fooled.  It only matters that there are people being fooled.  Ano ang silbi ng tahasan at paulit-ulit na pagtanggi kung napakadaling magtahi ng kwentong bubulag sa tao.

          Kung noon ang paniniwala natin ay may dalawang klase ng tao sa mundo: iyong nanloloko at iyong nagpapaloko, sa kasamaang palad, hindi na ganoon kasimple ang problema.  Hindi lamang kamangmangan o katamaran ang problema.  The ugly and shameful truth is that the bigger, more insidious and more destructive problem we are facing is truly an unholy trinity made up of: (1) the power-hungry who have no scruples about lying to people’s faces in order to destroy and silence their critics; (2) the money-hungry people who are willing to sell their services in order to help them achieve that goal by manufacturing, delivering and perpetuating those lies in exchange for profits or influential posts in government; and (3) an unchecked medium that not only makes it easy to spread these lies to the most number of people in the shortest possible time, but is also driven by the mentality that being “first!”, “viral” or “famous”, and having the most “likes”, “shares”, “follows”, “re-tweets” and so forth are more important than being “right”, “credible” or “truthful.

          Make no mistake, the worst form of cancer afflicting our society are the people who fall under the first category.  But what enables them to do what they want is the fact that it is profitable to assist them, as reports by the Washington Post[28] and The Straits Times,[29] have indicated, through paid services and advertisement money.  People get paid to troll and to spread discord.  People’s integrity now has a going market price. 

          Blood money is what that is. 

          Some people might not think that there is anything wrong about making money by making up stories, but they cannot be more wrong. 

People’s morals are degraded by fake news, some of which thrive on plain salaciousness o kabastusan at kalaswaan.  Nothing is off limits.  The personal life, good name and reputation of women, and even men, are fair game.  It’s open season for anyone who dares criticize this government, and it’s severely skewing the moral compass of our people, not to mention our youth.

People die from false information.  How many news stories have we heard of people killing people because of tsismis?  How many of those killed because of the “war on drugs” were victims of unverified accusations? And, yet, there is an even bigger public safety and security aspect to it, not just because hate crimes are committed because of propaganda that thrive in sowing divisiveness in an otherwise civilized society, but also because how can we protect ourselves adequately against real threats, while living full and normal lives, when we have lost the ability to tell what is real from what is fake?

Nations are weakened by false information. 

External forces gain footing in domestic affairs through false information. 

I would like to think that, though we are not a rich nation, we are, at least, a proud nation.  Proud of our independence.  Proud of our freedoms.  Proud of our ability to determine our own fate through the exercise of our basic and constitutionally guaranteed rights.  Tayong mga Pilipino ay mga tunay at lubos na mga tao, hindi parang mga palakang may tiyan, walang sikmura. 

          We must break up this unholy alliance.  Or, at the very least, make them feel that crime does not pay – and, yes, lest people forget rumor-mongering was declared a crime under our laws, particularly Presidential Decree No. 90.  

Some of us may be well-versed about the nuances and differences between “fake news”, “satire”, “fiction” or “yet unverified information”, but not everyone is.  And, worse, there are elements who cowardly hide behind the alibi of “satire” and deceptively worded and/or located disclaimers, while actively dressing themselves up in the clothing of real “news”, hoping that there are enough people that they can fool.  Such exploitation must be stopped. 

After all, if we have laws that protect against intellectual property right infringement, and consumer protection laws that protect against false advertisement, fraudulent products and product-labeling, and protecting the people against products not fit for human consumption, there is all the more reason for Congress to protect the people from misleading or outrightly false information that contaminate the very life source of our nation: Truth, from which everything else, including Justice, flows.

          Therefore, I call on our people not to believe everything they hear or read; but, instead, to be critical and to be inquisitive.  Magtanong.  Magmatiyag.  Magsaliksik.  Mag-isip.

Ika nga, chew before you swallow and, as one children’s safety public service announcement goes, “Don’t Put It in Your Mouth” until you’ve checked what it is, and know where it’s from.  Hindi ka si Snow WhiteSabi nga ng Eraserheads, “May mga kumakalat na balita/Na ang kaligtasa’y madaling makuha/Bago maniwala/Mag-isip-isip ka muna/Marami ang namamatay/Sa Maling Akala.”

Remember, fake news is like a drug: it makes you feel good by making you see or hear things that you badly want to believe are real; but, in reality, it is a form of poison that will destroy from within.  The virus that will bring about a zombie apocalypse in form we least expected.

          To my colleagues in the Senate, I call on all of you – whether you feel personally invested in combating fake news or not – to support, as I wholeheartedly do, the Senate Resolutions no. 279 and 271 of Senators Sonny Trillanes and Kiko Pangilinan calling for the conduct of an inquiry on the spate of fake news in social media, in order to find legislative measures to stem their proliferation, such as imposing stronger requirements for websites to take effective responsibility for what they publish, such as by limiting the legal effect of disclaimers, especially those that are inadequately phrased or positioned to give their readers sufficient notice of the nature of what they are publishing, and the imposition of severe penalties that will make it financially burdensome to spread false news, as such, for profit.  These are but some legislative measures we can look into in order to address the problem of proliferation of destructive fake news on the purveyors’ end.

          But I am also calling for an inquiry on how we can strengthen the fight against fake news and propaganda on the other end: the recipient’s or the receiver’s end.  I believe that a strong foundation in critical thinking, established as part of free basic education, will help our nation achieve its goal of establishing a strong and productive citizenry, who will not fall for the tricks of conmen and cult leaders so easily.  There comes a point where we can only do so much to protect our people from fraudsters, beyond that it falls upon them to protect themselves.  But our duty is to adequately equip them to make the distinction and to think for themselves.  That is the least that we owe to ourselves, our children, and to the future of our nation.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society.”

          Our present leaders have already given lawless elements the guns, the license, the impunity and the opportunity to butcher us.  Let us not make it easy for them to kill us by willingly and submissively swallowing the poison they feed us.

[1] Kilala ang Bacolod City bilang “The City of Smiles”. At sa totoo lang: Sa ngiti n’yo palang, ramdam ko na ang lambing ng inyong pagmamahal at pakikiisa. Maraming salamat po.

[2] Ang tingin siguro ng Pangulo sa sarili ay hari, di dapat masuway ang utos niya.

[3] Bueza, Michael. IN NUMBERS: The Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’. Updated 17 January 2017.

[4] Debate on death penalty rages anew. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. 17 April 2006

[5] Magaling lang sila sa pagkakalat ng kasinungalingan, ng maling impormasyon, at panloloko sa taumbayan.

[6] Pitong buwan na sila sa pwesto. Ano na ba ang nagawa nila? Karahasan. Patayan. Pagtatanggol sa mga ilegal na pumapatay ng mga walang kalaban-laban. 

[7] (accessed 21 January 2017).

[8] (accessed 21 January 2017).

[9] Gaano man kabigat ang pagsubok, lalaban ako. Down to my last breath, I will stand with what is right, with truth, with justice, with democracy. I will stand with the Filipino people. I will stand with you. Maraming salamat.

[10] (last accessed 23 January 2017).

[11] (last accessed 23 January 2017).

[12] (last accessed 23 January 2017).

[13] (last accessed 23 January 2017).

[14] (last accessed 23 January 2017).

[15] (last accessed 23 January 2017).


[17] (last accessed 23 January 2017).

[18] (24 January 2017).







[25] (accessed 21 January 2017).

[26] (Accessed 21 January 2017)

[27] (Accessed 21 January 2017).

[28] (last accessed 23 January 2017).

[29] (last accessed 23 January 2017).

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