Laban Leila, Laban Kababaihan:
A Forum on Habeas Data and Women’s Rights
Maria Orosa St., Manila
Unang-una sa lahat, nais kong magbigay pasasalamat sa inyong lahat, lalong-lalo na sa mga taong naririto upang magpakita ng inyong suporta. Napakalaking bagay po para sa akin ang tumayo dito at makitang hindi ako nag-iisa.
Marahil maraming kilay ang nakataas ngayon.
Hayan nanaman si Leila De Lima, nagpapa-press conference nanaman, at may bitbit pang Petition sa Supreme Court ngayon. At laban pa sa Mahal na Poong Duterte! Hindi na talaga marunong madala si Leila.
Opo. Wala nga talaga akong kadala-dala. I am who I am. And what I am, like it or not, is a fighter.
Pero kung kilala n’yo ako – at kung babalikan natin ang huling walo’t kalahating taong iginugol ko sa pagsisilbi sa bayan, at ilang dekada bago iyon na ginugol ko naman bilang isang abogado – sumasabak ako sa laban kapag alam kong mayroon akong ipinaglalaban.
Maiintindihan ko kung hindi naiintindihan ng karamihan kung ano ang legal basis ko sa pagsampa ng kasong ito laban kay Rodrigo Roa Duerte.
Pero iyan mismo ang unang hakbang para maintindihan ninyo kung saan ako nanggagaling: ang sinampahan ko ng kaso ay si Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Hindi ang Pangulo ng ating bansa.
Nagkataon lamang na isa sa mga maskarang isinusuot ni Rodrigo Roa Duterte ay ang maskara ng pagka-pangulo ng ating bansa
Si Rodrigo Roa Duterte ang aking sinampahan ng kaso dahil sa kahindik-hindik, karima-rimarim at kasuklam-suklam na mga hakbang at mga pananalita n’ya laban sa akin. Mga pananalita na walang kinalaman sa kanyang tungkulin bilang pangulo – kahit na pilit n’yang ginagamit at sinasamantala ang posisyong iyon para maisakatuparan ang kanyang personal na pagnanasang parusahan ako.
Make no mistake, my journey down the Duterte rabbit hole started, not last August 2016, but seven years ago.
Sabi ko nga, I blame former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Bakit kasi n’ya ako in-appoint na Chairperson ng Commission on Human Rights noong 2008?
Kung tutuusin, narirrito ako ngayon dahil siguro nakilala ni PGMA na makatutulong ang aking reputasyon bilang isang hard-hitting, no-nonsense female lawyer para mapatunayang seryoso ang pamahalaan na isaayos ang ating human rights record na noon ay binabatikos – both locally and internationally.
Sa mga Pilipinong hindi nakakalimot, marahil natunton n’yo na EJKs din ang pinagsimulan ng lahat ng ito. Hindi itong mga EJKs na nagaganap ngayong taon, pero iyong mga naganap noong halos isang dekadang panunungkulan ni PGMA. Hindi ba’t doon nga lumutang at sumikat ang isa sa kanyang mga heneral na binansagang “The Butcher”, si Jovito Palparan, Jr.?
At noon din umalingawngaw sa buong mundo – kabilang na sa bulwagan ng United Nations – ang tinatawag na “Davao Death Squad”.
Hindi ko inimbento iyan. Hindi pa ko lingkod-bayan, DDS na ang DDS.
In fact, maybe you can say that I became a public servant precisely because of the acts attributed to “The Butcher”, the “DDS” and the like. Dahil tatlong linggo matapos lumabas ang Philippine Mission Report ng UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions na si Philip Alston – isa rin sa mga pinakapaboritong tao ni Duterte – ay in-appoint ako ni PGMA bilang CHR Chairperson.
She had the good sense to know that she needed a person who had the reputation for integrity and the track record that could credibly improve our government’s human rights record. Perhaps what she didn’t fully realize was that I am no one’s window-dressing. Hindi ako palamuti lamang. If you appoint me to a post, I will execute the duties of that office to the best of my ability, without fear or favor.
At doon nagtagpo ang landas namin ni Rodrigo Roa Duterte. The rest is, as you know, history. For me it meant a public service record that saw me tangle with powerful, influential and wealthy people. I made powerful enemies because I cannot do anything less than what my duties demanded. Cowardice was not a luxury I had the time nor the stomach to indulge in.
2016 comes and here I am, a Senator, again calling for an investigation into the spate of EJKs taking place in our homes and in our streets. In terms of performing my duties, I am who I always have been.
And there is Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a man who rose to power and, instead of seeing the opportunity to make the Philippines a truly better place for his people, his children – decided that he would use that to get back at me for the sins he thinks I committed against him, and against those who helped him win the election.
He started doing to me, slowly, what was done to victims of extrajudicial killings: he was killing me. Not even figuratively, but literally. He even admitted it: he wanted to drive me to suicide. He had imposed his own brand of death penalty by bullying, through the misuse, abuse and exploitation of the power of the Office of the President and the might off the Executive branch, with the complicity of certain members of Congress and professional trolls and bullies. And he himself was executing it.
For the last few months, I faced my executioner. And his name is Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
And, for a time, he succeeded.
I admit I felt the pain he wanted to make me feel.
I had the sleepless nights he wanted to me to suffer through.
I had doubts of ever finding vindication, the sense of helplessness and hopelessness that he wanted to use as the poison that would finally kill me.
I started to question whether there are still people who support me.
I went through the period of isolation that he wanted to impose upon me. You would never know it, but it is actually possible to experience solitary confinement without physical locks and walls to keep you in.
I felt the shame he wanted me to feel, when I thought that there were actually ordinary people who believed all the awful names, lies and curse words he used to stone me to death – sinful woman that I was.
I felt the urge to sink down to his level na parang baboy na nakalubog sa pusali at nakikipagbatuhan ng putik.
It was tempting. I tell you.
But I realized something: if I can go through all of this and still be alive, breathing, fighting – who’s the real loser here? Who’s the coward? Sino ang tunay na matibay?
If I allow myself to fight them at their own game: name calling, mudslinging, lying … using the #InventPaMore tactic, the lie-through-your-teeth until your wig falls off style of fighting, or the guess-if-I’m-serious-or-lying type of rhetoric where everything – even God, country, and people’s lives are punchlines to jokes – who will keep fighting for the important issues? Everyone will forget about the victims, their families, the orphaned children… they will shut down the investigations.
If I did that, everyone loses. And Rodrigo Roa Duterte – the man whose ego cannot endure even the slightest sting of apparent criticism – would have won.
More importantly, kung papayag ako na gamitin laban sa akin ang aking pagkababae – parang tinulungan ko s’yang patunayan na mahina ang mga kababaihan.
Na ang babae ay dapat lumagay sa pinaglagyan sa kanya ng mga lalaki.
Na hindi s’ya pwedeng umalma, magalit at umangal dahil, pag-umangal s’ya, parang pinatunayan n’ya na bungangera, pikon, balat-sibuyas, makitid ang isip, walang sense of humor at walang sense ang mga babae.
Na hindi sila maasahan sa mga seryoso at maseselang usapin dahil ang tunay na kagalang-galang na babae ay si Maria Clara – ang tahimik na dalaga na, noong dumanas ng malaking dagok sa kanyang dignidad at pagkababae, ay mas piniling magpakamatay kaysa labanan at ilantad ang lumapastangan sa kanya.
Na ang kanyang tanging tungkulin ay ang purihin at bigyan ng bulag, pipi at binging pagsuporta ang mga lalaki.
Doon ko naisip: hindi ako papapayag. Hindi ko hahayaang diktahan ninuman – babae man o lalaki – kung paano ko susukatin ang aking sariling dignidad at pagkatao. I refuse to purchase a quiet existence by stroking the ego of any man.
And that’s the most important point here: the biggest sin is to use my womanhood to silence my humanity. To use a weapon meant to oppress, repress and diminish women in order to perpetuate even greater human rights violations.
I refuse to cower. I refuse to give in.
Rodrigo Roa Duterte, you were right about one thing: Yes, I am a fighter.
And this is me, taking my stand, fighting.
You call me a slut, a woman of the world.
Yes, I am a woman.
I am a strong woman who will not allow an insecure man to destroy her.
I have nothing to apologize for, or feel ashamed of because I have killed no one, and I have not engaged in, or benefited from, any illegal activity.
I have not made other people suffer out of personal grievance or malice.
I have done my job, and in so doing I have incurred the wrath of a former President, a former Senate President, scores of other powerful, influential and wealthy people – and I still say, I would have done it again.
You cannot make me regret doing what I thought to be the right and just thing given all the circumstances known to me. You cannot make me regret not turning blind, deaf and mute in the face of corruption and gross violations of human rights.
In defiance of you and your brand of crass misogyny, which is at this moment poisoning the minds of our people, I will stand my ground.
I am sick and tired of being a victim, who is always on the defensive.
I choose to stand up for myself.
In so doing, I discovered that there are people who will stand up for me and with me.
People began to reach out and extend their helping hand when they saw that I was willing, able and ready to be the mistress of my own fate.
So this is my way of hitting two birds with one Petition-for-Writ-of-Habeas-Data stone.
First, I am here to exorcise my demon. He wears a crown and sits on a throne now, but that should not shield him from being held responsible for launching a personal vendetta against one of his own citizens, just to vindicate perceived personal slights his manhood suffered 7 years ago. His lofty position should not be used to perpetuate his personal evil designs against one woman.
Ang paglapit ko sa Korte Suprema ang paraan ko para iwaksi ang demonyong pilit ginagawang bangungot ang buhay ko.
Second, once and for all, gusto kong maintindihan ng mga tao na kahit nagtagpo ang landas at kapalaran namin ni Rodrigo Roa Duterte dahil sa EJKs – noong 2009 at ngayong 2016 – ang mga ginawa n’yang panlilibak, pang-iinsulto, panghihiya, paninira sa akin ay hindi dapat magamit para ilihis ang atensyson mula sa mga nagaganap na patayan at paglabag sa mga karapang pantao ng ating mga kapwa Pilipino.
I have to deal with the first so that he would no longer be able to fool people by misdirecting their attention from the truly disturbing issues of constitutional and gravely moral proportions.
He tried to strip me of my dignity and my humanity because I angered him, and because he promised those who helped him attain his position that he will make sure that they can finally exact their own revenge against me.
Well, I am about to anger him even more because I refuse to give him and his cohorts the satisfaction. He would have to find another way to repay his debts to them because I am done giving them the satisfaction of seeing me helpless and out of my element.
How can I be out of my element? This is my element. This is a good fight. I have the right to fight it so I am invoking my legal right to do so – even if I have to step into untested waters to do it.