‘Not in my Name’


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Dialogue on Democracy and Human Rights

College of the Holy Spirit, Mendiola, Manila

October 13, 2016

Good afternoon to everyone, to the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, administrators, faculty, staff, and students of the participating schools, the Mendiola Consortium, in this afternoon’s forum—College of the Holy Spirit, La Consolacion College, San Beda College, Centro Escolar University, and St. Jude College. And of course, I’m a graduate, I’m an alumna of the San Beda College of Law, 1985. An alumna of San Beda College of Law just like you know who, our President. Fellow Bedan. But of course, he’s much senior.

First of all, my apologies to everyone. Nagmadali po ako because I could not leave right away the ongoing inquiry into the spate of killings. So there was a resumption of the Senate inquiry. As you know, I filed that resolution calling for a Senate inquiry into the spate of extrajudicial killings. At ako po yung nakasalang doon. I was asking a lot of questions doon sa mga resource persons from the PNP. But I was looking at my watch. I was late already so I had to cut my questioning to join here. So again, my apologies. I have not even taken my lunch yet. But I’d rather be here and share my thoughts on very important issues, burning issues in our country.

What a year, so far for me. What a year. I sometimes want to ask the person beside me to come and pinch me to make sure that I’m awake and not in some overly realistic nightmare. Yun po ang nararamdam ko for the past few weeks, as if I’m in a nightmare.

It has been quite a year, actually, for all of us. I have a list of what I call, “Things I Never Expected to Hear in 2016.” And mind you, the list is getting longer and it’s depressingly so.

For example, one year ago, I would never have expected anyone to say, let alone get away with saying, “My order is shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me.”[1] This is from a news item. Okay. We believe you. Now what?

How exactly did you expect us to react to that, that oft-repeated statement about shoot to kill, kill, kill, kill? Us, human rights activists, how do you expect us to react to statements like that? Myself, as a public official who took an oath to uphold the Constitution, including the provisions promising that the State will respect, promote, uphold and protect human rights,  did you really believe that we will collectively shrug our shoulders in resignation, fold up our placards, call it a day and go home upon hearing those?

How mentally imbalanced would a person have to be to actually believe that’s the natural reaction that such reckless statements would garner?

Or maybe it’s not a reflection of one’s sanity. Marahil ang tunay na problema ay ang pagkukulang sa katangian ng isang pinuno.  The lack of simple foresight. Of shooting from the hip, only to end up shooting your own toes off.

Tapos sa akin, sa mga obispo, sa UN, at sa iba pang mga kritiko siya magagalit?

Sige nga, kung ang mga estudyanteng naririto ngayong araw ay biglang tumayo sa gitna ng klase at nagsabi sa kanilang guro, “Sir, aalis na ako.  Magka-cut class ako today.”  How many of you, seriously speaking, would honestly expect their teachers to go and say, “Sige, Rody, suportahan taka.”

If you expect people to respect and support you, give us something we can actually respect and support. 

The Filipino people’s blind support for morally reprehensible acts, much less unlawful acts, is not owed to any leader by virtue of their election.

Now that the election is over and done with, do you think the balance of powers have changed?

No, they are still accountable to you. We, the public officials, especially the elected public officials, including the President, are still accountable to you. Not the other way around.

Do you think you have surrendered your rights as against a President that you or the plurality of voters voted for, it’s not even the majority, but simply a plurality? No.

Why? Because no President is above the law, much less above the Constitution.

Just as the spring cannot rise higher than its source, a President cannot rise higher than the people. No President, no matter how many people voted for him, is above the people.

Kahit Diyos pa ang tingin niya sa sarili niya, siya po ay tao, at tao ring haharap sa batas ng tao. Kahit ibinoto mo pa siya o ibinoto natin.

 You are not expected, nor should you believe yourself to be obligated to defend your elected leaders’ behavior after they assume power. Those acts are their own, and you have all the right in the world to voice your objection.  

Don’t let anyone make you believe that you are complicit with their crimes just because you exercised your right to vote.

Huwag ka pong maniwala na ang pagboto mo sa kanya ay lisensya niya para lapastanganin ang iyong mga karapatan at mas lalo na ang pumatay at lumapastangan sa karapatan ng iba sa inyong pangalan.

Doon po sa mga bumoto, sabi nga po ni Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno, Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, “Mr. President, do not kill in my name.”

Not in my name.

Can we say it? “Not in my name.” 

Please say it. (“Not in my name.”)

Again please. (“Not in my name.”)

Louder please. (“Not in my name.”)

Kung talaga pong “War on Drugs” ito, bakit ang mga mahihirap lamang ang namamatay, samantalang ang mga convicted o self-confessed na mga Drug Lords, ay naroon sa House of Representatives, nakapila para maambunan ng immunity? 

Sigurado ba tayong “War on Drugs”?  Baka naman ibang problemang panlipunan pala ang sinosolusyunan diyan?  Kasi mukhang “War on Poverty” ang totoong nasosolusyunan dahil sa dinami-rami ng mga napapatay, an overwhelming majority of them are the poor. Yung mga nakatsinelas, minsan wala pang tsinelas. The powerless, the voiceless, the defenseless. Yung mga walang abogado, walang mga security guard. Walang mga firearms.

I hope they are not attempting to solve the poverty problem by killing the poor, either quickly through your War on Drugs, or slowly by alienating the investors.

There are ways to solve the problem, and quick fixes are just a lazy man’s first resort.

Hindi masosolusyunan po ang problema kung ang problema ay nasa harapan mo na pero hindi mo pa nakikita.

People are saying that the Senate hearings on Extrajudicial Killings (EJKs) were just a ploy that I was using to undermine the President.  That it was a political gambit that had no legislative purpose.

They may say what they will or want to say, but people who have enough discernment would have already realized the biggest part of the problem that allows criminality to abound—and not just the drug trade. 

One of the first clues is so absurd, it was thought of as funny but, in truth, it is a horrifying glimpse into reality. Doon po sa pinaka-unang hearing o isa sa mga pinaka-unang hearing ng Senate inquiry noong ako pa po yung chairperson, a high-ranking police officer who appeared before the Senate assured those present that they have filed murder charges against the police personnel involved in a suspected EJK case. I’m referring to that case in Pasay City.

Asked why the charges filed were murder, he replied, the police officer replied in open proceedings. Ang sabi po niya, “Dahil po merong namatay.”

People laughed, including some senators. But I couldn’t let it go, I tried to clarify the question, asking why murder charges were filed and not homicide, when not all cases that involve a person’s death is automatically qualified as murder. I think if there are law students here or even just students of pre-law, you know this.

The answers I got just got more confusing when I asked him about that. Scarier, actually, in its reflection of how police officers think when he said, “Ang instructions ko sa police ko, doon tayo sa murder case i-file kasi unang-una let them feel that we are not tolerating this case.”[2]

The fact that a high-ranking police officer doesn’t know the difference between murder and homicide is not a laughing matter. It is a weeping matter.

We have to mourn the fact that the people we entrust your safety and security to are obviously ill-equipped to effectively do so.

Although, I’m not generalizing. I know there are good men and women in the police force, honest, competent, and professional.

But some of them, they blame the prosecutors or the justice system for the dismissal of drugs cases. While, obviously, there is fault enough to share, the fact remains that prosecutors cannot make a strong case out of thin air, especially if the people who gathered the evidence did so incompetently or without even knowing what elements they were trying to prove.

When I was Secretary of Justice, we tried to remedy that by forming multi-agency fact-finding teams, which facilitated collaboration and cooperation between prosecutors and investigators, but that alone cannot fix the problem.

We have the right to expect that law enforcement agents, especially police officers, are well versed in the laws they are expected to enforce.  When we say ignorance of the law excuses no one, lalo na pong mas angkop ang mga katagang iyan sa ating mga law enforcers.

We have the right to expect that police officers know, and are well-trained, in the lawful gathering, preservation and putting together of evidence to make their case before prosecutors who, in turn, will have to present it in court. 

Kung ni hindi nila alam ang pagkakaiba po ng homicide sa murder, ano naman po kaya ang mangyayari sa mga kaso ng mga iniimbestigahan na yan?

Saan tayo pupulutin kung sa kanyang dunong at tapang, ang naisip na solusyon ng ating mahal na Pangulo ay bigyan ng mas malalakas na armas ang mga pulis, para mas maigi nilang maipatupad ang ibingay sa kaning “shoot to kill order”.

Of course they have the right to receive enough resources, enough support from the Executive department, for example, budget and other resources.

Now, this brings to mind the law of the instrument according to Abraham Maslow who, in 1966, said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”[3]

Madaliang solusyon na hindi naman talaga solusyon ngunit pagtatakip-butas lamang. Yan po ang simpleng translation po doon o interpretation.

          When all you have is a gun, and no knowledge of the law, all situations is a first-person shooting game situation: kill or be killed.

          Pero hindi tayo magpapaloko: alam natin na katamaran, kakitiran ng pag-iisip, at kakulangan ng tamang pag-iisip ang tunay na problema.

          Ang tanong, ngayong alam na natin ang problema, ano ang magagawa natin?

          Ako? Isang babae lamang po ako.

          A woman who, in 2016, came to realize that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

          In 2009, as Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights—as mentioned earlier, and as many of you know—I investigated the so-called Davao Death Squad, among other alleged cases of extrajudicial killings reported by then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston.

From 2010-2015, as Secretary of Justice, I tried to discharge my functions with integrity, and without fear or favor: ang dami kong malalakas na taong binangga, kabilang na ang pagsisiwalat sa PDAF scam na nagpahirap pang lalo sa mga mahihirap, habang nagpasasa naman sa kaban ng yaman ng bansa ang ilang mga makapangyarihan at maimpluwensiyang element, including senators.

In my first few weeks as a senator in 2016, I called for a probe into the alarming rate of extrajudicial killings in our nation.

          Now, three months later, I am an accused drug trade protector, and a man-eating slut who has had carnal relationships with every man that crossed my path.

Perhaps the worst insult to my character, though, is the suggestion that I was stupid enough to do all sorts of illegal transactions with drug dealers after having pissed off everyone from then Mayor Duterte, former President GMA and her husband and their family, former Senators Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Revilla, among others, and still did not have enough sense to shut up about EJKs when the President threatened to destroy me politically if I don’t.

I think you all heard him. ‘I want her destroyed at all costs.’ ‘She is finished.’ ‘Hang yourself.’ That’s the President.

          Ang tanga ko pala.  I never realized.

I suppose I should be grateful. I thank the President and his men, especially the Secretary of Justice, and some members of the House of Representatives for pointing out to me and to the Filipino people what a stupid idiot I am.

          But it was to be expected, I suppose, because I am just a woman. I don’t know any better. How could I? I don’t have the wisdom and mental agility of my male counterparts. I deserve what is happening to me, and I should do everyone a favor by resigning and hanging myself.

Madness. I call madness on all of that. I refuse to, quote-unquote, “drink the Kool-aid”.

          I stand before you today, my dear students, professors, sisters, a woman under attack, but not beaten. Betrayed but wiser. Slut shamed, but more proud of and, most importantly, even more at peace with my womanhood. Victimized, but an even more determined fighter.

          I’m here, not to call on you to fight for me. While I thank everyone who has expressed their support for me—and there have been many for the past few days on Facebook, via text, and all other medium, especially the women’s groups—I know that my battles are my own.

          I’m here to ask you to fight the greatest fight our nation has faced since the People Power Revolution in 1986. But it is not a fight against the President. Not a fight against his men.

          But a fight that will be fought, to paraphrase one song, “behind our face and above our throat”. The battlefield is actually the Filipino people’s minds.

          Social media has been weaponized—by their own admission. Humor has been weaponized by turning serious issues like rape and other women’s issues into laughing matters.

          We have to fight back and reclaim our sanity, our moral compass, our social being, our very humanity and, most critically, our democracy.

          We start by knowing what we are fighting against. What are we fighting against? I say it’s alienation and dehumanization. The greatest weapon of a dictatorship is the creation of a faceless, dehumanized source of fear.  In this case, it’s the inanimate concept of “drugs”. 

So they declared a War on Drugs, that’s fine, that’s good. We all applaud that. We all agree we should end the drug menace.

They declared a War on Drugs hoping that we would not notice and, perhaps not care, that it is human beings that are actually dying.  Hoping that, as the Queen song goes, the rock band, we would all accept that poor boys from poor families, whom nobody loves, die all the time—and that’s okay. That’s acceptable.  Some of them, are not even connected with the drug trade, but were merely collateral damage that they hope we can just shrug off as a necessary evil.

          Well, I’m sorry but I reject that. Not in my name.

If we are going to kill people, we better know who we are killing.  We better know why we are killing them. We better know that they do deserve to die. We better know that we are morally without a reason to doubt their guilt. It better be with due process, under laws that authorize the death penalty, if ever there would be such laws.

Why? Because, as the current state of affairs stand, it’s imperative if our police officers can’t even be trusted to tell the difference between homicide and murder.

          It’s a fight worth fighting.  No doubt about that. But, as I have said, no good deed goes unpunished.

          If you join this fight, expect to be “De Lima-ed”, made-De Lima ka. Yes, it’s a verb now. I saw it on Facebook, which means being on the receiving end of a demolition job for daring to exercise your rights, including political rights.

          Are you brave enough?

          I wouldn’t be standing before you, here in historic Mendiola, if I didn’t believe that, of all the people in this nation, these are the people I can trust to have the courage to take on the fight.

          I don’t see women.  I don’t see men. I see warriors for democracy whenever I stand before a young audience just like you. But not just any democracy.

          Not a democracy that is infected with the “Troll virus” and characterized with the loss of decency.

Iyon bang nilululon na lang lahat ng sabihin ng Pangulo. Yung wala nang malalim na public discourse at puro na lang name calling, misinformation, distortion at outright lies.

Iyon bang aatakihin ang isang marangal na babae at mamamayan tulad ni Ms. Agot Isidro,not by engaging her in the soundness of her arguments, but by attacking her person, her womanhood and her inability to conceive, and thus attempting to use her pain to shut her out of the public discourse.

          I reject that democracy, that kind of a democracy, for I know how it is to be victimized by that brand of so-called “democracy” exercised by these trolls.

          Hindi tatsulok na demokrasya kung saan ang mamamayan ay nasa baba, at “sila ang nasa tuktok”, ika nga ng grupong Buklod at ni Bamboo. I don’t know whether you know their songs. Nakakapangilabot pakinggan ang mga letra ng kantang iyon, dahil parang isinulat lamang kahapon kung gaano napapanahon ang mensahe nito. May I just quote some portions:

Totoy bilisan mo, bilisan mo ang takbo

Totoy makinig ka, wag kang magpa-gabi
Baka mapagkamalan ka’t humandusay dyan sa tabi

Hindi pula’t dilaw tunay na magkalaban
Ang kulay at tatak ay di siyang dahilan
Hangga’t marami ang lugmok sa kahirapan
At ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman

Habang may tatsulok at sila ang nasa tuktok
Di matatapos itong gulo

          That’s Buklod and Bamboo. Kung ako ang papipiliin ng sisimbulo sa demokrasya na dapat nating atimin, hindi ko pipiliin ang tatsulok, baligtad man o hindi.  Hindi rin ang parihaba—medyo mga malalamin na po itong Tagalog. Bicolana po ako. Noong una hindi ko po naintindihan ito. Hindi rin ang parihaba dahil di nito naisasalarawan ang pagkakapantay-pantay ng lahat.  Hindi rin parisukat. Or any other shape that has opposing sides. I prefer the shape of circle, for it evokes unity; a wholeness; of being on different points on the perimeter, but still being on the same side; of being equals and still allies even when we disagree sometimes.

          After three months of serving in the Senate—in the first three months of my political career ever, although, I still refuse to consider myself as a politician—I realized that it is imperative that we forget about taking sides in the sense of treating those who disagree with us as the enemies. Ganun ho kasi ang tingin nila sa akin. Enemy daw po ako ng administrasyon na ito.

          It’s wrong to think that just because we object, I object to EJKs, we do not support the fight against illegal drugs. We are just asking that the method match the beneficence of the intent. Without the hypocrisy of doing things for the people, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the slaughter of those same people.

          As my colleague Senator Tito Sotto himself exhibited last Tuesday, when he delivered a privilege speech, when he not only suggested “simple” solutions to the drug problem in the Bilibid that does not entail mass extermination that I can agree with and support, he also manifested the possibility that he has changed his heart and might vote against the revival of the death penalty. Because, I definitely, am against the re-imposition of death penalty, in the same manner that I am totally against EJKs.

          In this spirit, I ask that we all leave behind the toxicity of attacking one another every time we disagree.

          We, as humans, may technically be animals, but we are not unthinking beasts.

          We are sentient. We hear, we see, we sense. We are people, not feral animals.

We are capable of trying to understand one another without destroying each other. 

          Let that be the democracy we fight for. 

A democracy that supports human rights. 

A democracy that rejects extrajudicial killings, whether or not targeted at those conveniently and readily labeled as “drug suspects”. 

A democracy that rejects misogyny, misandry, other forms of sexism and gender bias or intolerance.

A democracy that is capable of transforming criticism into progress, instead of seeds of discord.

A democracy that is capable of building friendships without having to destroy old ones.

          A democracy that we can support.

          One that we can readily say, wholeheartedly and happily, “Suportahan taka.”       

          A democracy that we can proudly sign in our name.

          Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.

[1] http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-drug-war-abuses-20160805-snap-story.html

[2] Source: incident was reported in a GMA News article published at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/578507/news/nation/murder-filed-vs-2-pasay-cops-dahil-merong-namatay.

[3] Abraham H. Maslow (1966). The Psychology of Science. p. 15.

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