Monday, 22 August 2016
In a low-handed attempt to derail investigations into the killing of suspected drug peddlers and dependents in the country, President Duterte has accused Senator Leila de Lima of being immoral, an adulterer, with links to the illegal drugs trade. The President is especially scathing in his attacks on women critics. Not only does he hurl accusations left and right as if there are no laws on evidence governing this country, accusations against women are also painted with personal malice—something you don’t hear against male critics. Demonstrating a conduct unbecoming of a head of state, indeed, strutting like a common brute, a bully, the President resorts to name calling when he should be presenting legal arguments and facts to support his policies.
Why does he find it necessary to readily label critics before giving proof? He does it to put opposition figures in a box where he could render them not human- when labeling critics as immoral or adulterous or drug suspects, it removes their dignity, their humanity. In the eyes of society, they become a social disease that needs to be eradicated. So follows soon after, critics also become victims of the heinous crime of murder. We know too well from the labeling of Jews by the Nazis, Tutsis as “cockroaches” in Rwanda, even activists as communists by the late dictator Marcos, results the familiar massacres and other crimes against humanity. Duterte starts with unsubstantiated accusations that end in cardboard signs. We are thus gravely alarmed that if this accusations are the kind of intelligence dirty data requested and used by the President to malign and destroy his critics, what sort of harmful information is gathered and passed on regarding drug suspects to the rank and file of the PNP and/or to the local government officials and personnel to justify EJKs, as well as intensify a coercive environment and a culture of fear.
As more people begin to question his methods we expect more tirades and threats from this man. But what will go down in history are the courageous women and men that speak out against this administration’s excesses-- at the frontline are Senator de Lima and Chief Justice Sereno. iDEFEND extols their example and stand with them amidst overwhelming adversity, amidst attacks by no less than the President himself. We stand with them in the deafening silence of the rest of society. We dedicate to them these words that gave meaning to the struggle of a generation against Martial Law, by the late Lean Alejandro: “In the line of fire is a place of honor”. Mabuhay po kayo at maraming salamat po.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) is a growing broad coalition of non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations (POs), individual HRDs, human rights lawyers, religious sector and members of the academe which came together to defend and assert human rights for all.