Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called as mere diversionary tactic President Duterte’s recent red-tagging rampage against the Makabayan bloc legislators to cover up for his incompetence and failed pandemic response.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the present administration, made the statement after Duterte accused Makabayan of being a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in his recent weekly public address.
“It’s supposed to be a President’s weekly report on the COVID-19 situation but what we’ve been hearing since Day 1 are desperate attempts at damage control,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 985.
“In his latest address to the nation, he went on a red-tagging rampage against the Makabayan bloc, clearly a diversionary tactic. Duterte’s blabbering is an everyday reminder of this administration’s failed pandemic response,” she added.
While members of the Makabayan bloc in the Lower House have categorically denied that they are members of the CPP-NPA, the government insists it has solid evidence linking them to the communist movement.
Due to his incompetence especially in solving problems brought about by the COVID-19, De Lima said the only thing Duterte is capable of doing is “to create distractions to mask his ineptitude.”
“But even these have failed to persuade the people that he is a decisive and competent leader,” said the lady Senator from Bicol.
“Ang dami niyang kuda eh itong mga binabalahura niya palagi, sila pa ang mas nararamdaman ng tao sa panahon ng matinding krisis. Tigilan na ni Duterte ang panlilihis sa mga usapin sa panggigipit sa Makabayan bloc, sa mga kritiko at tagapagtanggol ng katotohanan at karapatang pantao,” she added.
Duterte has repeatedly red-tagged persons and groups critical of his administration which led to human rights violations, including harassment, unlawful arrests, torture, and threats to life, among others.
In a 48-page report entitled “Parliamentarians at Risk: Reprisals against opposition MPs in Southeast Asia” released by the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) last September, it revealed that some governments in the region have used a range of tactics to intimidate and harass opposition lawmakers.
The report noted that these include filing politically-motivated cases, stripping parliamentarians of their seats, or threatening or surveilling them.
It may also be recalled that the same report named De Lima, along with seven other Filipino Members of Parliament (MPs) who have been critical of Mr. Duterte and his crooked policies, as among the parliamentarians who are at risk in Southeast Asia.
“The Philippines is also the only country with a Senator currently in detention, reflecting the highly repressive environment that political opponents operate in under the Duterte administration,” the report said. (30)