On the Forum on Women Defend Democracy


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Golden Valley Hotel, Cebu City

9 June 2017

Good day.

First of all, I would like to congratulate once again, all the organizers of this “Women Defend Democracy” forum for their continued efforts to hold events like this—to gather and share our insights regarding social issues; and to empower us women to contribute in addressing problems that our country faces.

[In Cebuano]

Bisag wa ko diha sa inyong atubangan, dako kaayo akong pagpasalamat sa inyong kinasing kasing nga pagsuporta. Usa ra gyud ang buot ipasabot ani: wala ko mag inusara.[1]

As I said: It does not surprise me—not even a little bit—that the most immediate and most vocal support I have been receiving is from fellow women. I sincerely appreciate your faith and trust in me.

[In Cebuano]

Lahi ra gyud ang kusog sa mga kababayen an.[2]

Not just Filipino women, but women all over the world are always among the first to speak out against oppression and they are the loudest and bravest in their opposition whenever human rights and democracy are under siege. No doubt, we are all #WonderWoman.

Right now, we are seeing how despite the threats of persecution, Filipino women continue to resist the evils of this regime—from misogyny to state-sponsored killings, and, now, to the grim shadow of martial law hanging over our heads, which is made even more sinister by the reckless pronouncements of a President, who not only renounces respect for human rights in both words and deeds, but also encourages the honourable men and women of the armed forces to follow suit by promising them impunity for committing atrocities, including the violation of women. 

The truth is: this is just further proof that there are still people who are backwards in their thinking—including a President who unapologetically catcalls female members of the press, who makes a remark about it being a pity that a beautiful missionary woman was raped—na “Mayor dapat nauna” and a lawmaker who pokes fun of those “naano lang ang may anak at walang asawa.”

What is really disturbing is that there are people in power who are brazenly unapologetic in their mistreatment and insensitivity towards women.

[In Cebuano]

Ang nakapait ani, ang atong presidente mismo ug ang akong mga kauban sa Kongreso ang nagauna sa pagpakita ug pagka walay respeto ug pagtamay sa atong mga kababayen an.[3]

Before, in events like this, I basically spoke from my own experiences as a public servant, a lawyer, a daughter, a mother, a sister and as a woman. But now, it is a totally different story. I am now speaking from the perspective of a victim.

As you well know, I have been—and continue to be—on the receiving end of attacks and lies against my person and womanhood. Due to the President’s vendetta and obsession to take revenge against me because I had him investigated over human rights violations—first, when he was a mayor; and then, when he became President—this administration has thrown everything against me to destroy and pin me down. They have used government resources to imprison me.

At present and to my knowledge, at least thirteen cases and complaints have been filed against me since I was elected as Senator—three of which are active in the Regional Trial Courts (RTC) of Muntinlupa.

The three RTC cases arose from the preliminary investigation of the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors allegedly finding cause to prosecute me because of violations of R.A. No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, specifically, drug trafficking, using the testimonies of convicted felons, including murderers and drug lords, who are not only under the mercy and custody of my persecutors, but also have an axe to grind against me for leading a raid that disrupted their luxurious lifestyle and illegal activities inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).  And, yet, precisely because their testimonies before the House of Representatives were coerced and falsified, no evidence could be produced to substantiate their bald-faced lies and accusations against me, thus giving the Solicitor General the opportunity to come to the Duterte administration’s, quote-unquote, “rescue” by coming up with his amazing theory of conspiracy that basically contradicted that of the DOJ by admitting that, no, I am not actually a drug lord, but just a “wannabe” drug lord. 

Lies. Lies. And even more lies to cover up the lies.

My lawyers have responded to these accusations on every front, questioning the lack of jurisdiction of the DOJ Panel and of the RTC, and the lack of due process that attended the proceedings before these tribunals.  We have even brought a case all the way up to the Supreme Court, where we filed a petition to nullify my hasty arrest and my continued detention, and where we vigorously participated in three (3) days of oral arguments and, thereafter, filed our Memorandum. We are also in constant communication with groups and individuals who expressed their indignation on my case, and called for my immediate release.

Sa lahat naman ng matinong mag-isip, obvious po na imbento lang lahat ng kaso nila sa akin. Nakakagalit, na nakakatawa na nga lang po ang ginagawa nila. Nakakulong na nga ako, tuloy pa rin sila sa pagsira sa akin. Kumbaga sa boksing, itinali na nga yung kamay at paa ko, hinayaan pang patamaan ka ng suntok nang walang kalaban-laban.

Ito pong si Secretary Aguirre, naging sakit na ang pagsisinungaling at pag-iimbento ng mga kuwento. First, they manufactured trumped-up charges against me to detain me. Now, Aguirre also dragged my name in the PDAF/Napoles Scam and now, the Resorts World Manila fire started by a lone gunman which claimed 37 lives.

Grabe po talaga. I think it’s part of their mantra: When in trouble, blame De Lima.

Kulang na lang, kapag huminto ang tren ng MRT, kasalanan ni De Lima. Kapag may break-up sa showbiz, kasalanan ni De Lima. Tag-ulan na po, baka pag bumagyo o bumaha, kasalanan pa rin ni De Lima. Baka nga pati yung kamakailan na “processing error” sa BPI, kasalanan rin ni De Lima. Mayroon na nga pong nagsabi, pati pagkatalo ng Cavs kasalanan rin ni De Lima. “DDL” na ito, #DahilkayDeLima.

Kung humahaba lang po ang pekeng buhok niya tuwing nagsisinungaling siya, hindi po ako magtataka kung aabot hanggang dito sa Cebu ang long wig niya.

Today, June 9, marks my 106th day in detention—of my persecution as a “prisoner of conscience”, who is being deprived of liberty because of political belief, and for defending human rights.

As I’ve said before, I describe my situation in detention as “worse than death”. I was robbed of my freedom and suddenly incapacitated to do what I want to do.

No matter how hard I try to keep myself occupied, there are times that I can’t help but feel the indescribable yet overwhelming sadness and despair. I miss my mother, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, and my dogs.

But just as my mother and father had taught me, I should have faith, and stay strong for my family. I need to prove to my enemies: They can’t put a good woman down. More so, they can never make me, an innocent woman, back down from this fight. Because this is not my fight alone, but a fight for #EveryWoman, for all Filipinos, for the sake of our rights, justice and democracy.

Ngayon na laganap ang patayan at karahasan sa ating bayan, maraming ina, asawa, kapatid, at anak ang biktima. Gustuhin man nilang makamit ang hustisya, lalo lamang naipaparamdam sa kanila ang kawalan ng pag-asa. Hindi na nga nila magawang makaahon sa kahirapan, lalo pa silang nalulugmok sa kawalan ng katarungan.

Hanggang ngayon, patuloy pa rin ang paghahanap ng hustisya ni Jennilyn Olayres sa pagkamatay ng kanyang asawa na si Michael Siaron noong Hulyo 2016 sa Pasay City, kasama ang cardboard na: “Drug Pusher, Wag Tularan.”

Gaya ni Jennilyn, nariyan din ang mga tulad ni Harra Kazuo—asawa ng pinaslang ng mga pulis na si Jaypee Bertes— na humaharap sa pagsubok na itaguyod ang mga anak nang mag-isa, habang naghahanap ng hustisya.  

          Kasama nina Jennilyn at Harra ang mga inang naulila ng kanilang mga anak.

Also included in the so-called “collateral damage” of the Duterte regime’s war on drugs are the innocent victims. Over 30 children have been killed including 4-year-old Althea Fhem Barbon, 5-year-olds Danica May Garcia and Francisco Manosca, and 7-year-old Saniño Butucan.

Now, the threat on our democracy has become clearer. President Duterte has already declared martial law in the whole region of Mindanao, and used as reason the conflict in Marawi.

This is very alarming. As what the Department of National Defense and our AFP stated, the situation in Marawi is under their control. And even without the Marawi siege by the Maute group, Duterte has long professed his desire to declare martial law, with or without the constitutional basis for its imposition.

What is truly terrifying is that both houses of Congress are being, shall we say, “timid” in asserting their constitutionally enshrined duties and mandate to serve as the check against an arbitrary or otherwise abusive exercise of martial law powers by the President.

Without each of the three branches of government functioning to serve as the check against the others, who will guard us from a President who has shown a propensity to take extreme measures as a first and only recourse?  Who will make sure that he does not end up burning our whole nation down to the ground while he satisfies his lust for violence and his obsession of joining his idol in historical infamy?

There is a saying: “The only thing neccesary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

That is why I joined my fellow petitioners, namely, human rights lawyer Alexander A. Padilla, former Senator Rene A.V. Saguisag, 1986 Constitutional Commission delegate Christian S. Monsod, former CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales, constitutional law professor Rene B. Gorospe; represented by our counsels, namely, former Solicitor General Florin T. Hilbay, Atty. Teddy Esteban F. Rigoroso, Dean Jose Manuel I. Diokno, Atty. Arno Sanidad and former Akbayan Representative Ibarra M. Gutierrez III, in addition to Attys. Padilla and Monsod who are both petitioner-counsels; and supported by 331 members of the legal profession in petitioning the Supreme Court – the third and perhaps last bastion of democracy and Rule of Law – to compel Congress to perform its ministerial duty to convene in joint session, for the purpose of exercising legislative review of the martial law powers of the President.

All we ask is for our government to work the way it was intended to under our Constitution – even and most especially during times of extreme uncertainty and/or crisis.

After all, at a time when we are faced with a crisis of democracy, where citizens are silenced amid the prevalence of violence in our society, we are all called upon to speak up for what is right – even if it is unpopular – and to stand up for our ideals and values. 

The true test of our nationhood comes not during times of peace and prosperity, but during times of conflict.  The time to test and prove who we are as a people is, therefore, now.

Bilang babae, bilang Senadora, bilang Pilipinang nagmamalasakit sa kapwa Pilipino, ikulong man nila ako, limitahan man nila ang aking kilos, hindi ako maduduwag, hindi ako magpapatinag.

Sa atin pong kasaysayan, ang Cebu, ang mga Cebuano at Cebuana ang isa sa mga pangunahing lumaban sa diktadurya. Kinupkop po ninyo si Pangulong Cory Aquino noong kasagsagan ng pakikipaglaban sa martial law at noong EDSA, at kasamang lumaban para sa demokrasya.  

[In Cebuano]

Kuyugi ko ug mag uban ta sa pagpatigbabaw sa atong katungod ug dignidad isip usa ka babaye ug kababayen an. Atong ipakita sa tibuok Pilipinas ang atong kusog ug panaghiusa para sa pagdasig nga ipakita ang kamatuuran alang sa kalambuan sa tanan.[4]

Muli, maraming salamat at mabuhay ang Pilipinas.

[1] Wala man ako ngayon dito, ramdam ko pa rin ang inyong suporta. Maraming salamat po. Dahil sa inyo, malinaw po: Hindi ako nag-iisa.

[2] Iba po talaga ang lakas ng mga kababaihan.

[3] Ang masaklap ngayon, ang pinakamataas na pinuno ang halimbawa ng kawalan ng paggalang sa kababaihan, kasama pa ang ilan sa mga kapwa ko mambabatas.

[4] Sama-sama, ipaglaban natin ang ating karapatan, ang ating dignidad, ang ating pagkababae. Ipakita natin ang lakas ng Pilipina na itaguyod ang tama at makatwiran, at makiambag sa pagpapaganda ng ating kinabukasan.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
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(632) 552-6601 to 70 local no. 5750

Direct Lines:
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