By Mario Casayuran
Detained opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima Saturday congratulated united opposition’s Senate slate ‘’Otso Diretso’’ for running a ‘’dignified and clean’’ fight for the 24-member Senate in the May 13 midterm elections.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the results of the midterm elections would never change how the opposition coalition’s senatorial line-up gave hope and inspired millions of Filipinos to speak out and fight against an oppressive regime.
At the forefront, the senatorial bets advanced the causes of human rights and democracy, she said.
The Otso Diretso members include reelectionist Senator Paolo Benigno ‘’Bam’’ Aquino IV, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Marawi civic leader Sam Gutoc, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romy Macalintal, former Senator Manuel ‘’Mar’’ A. Roxas II, and former Congressman Erin Tañada.
In their respective statements last May 14, Macalintal, Hilbay, Gutoc, and Tanada already conceded defeat but promised to continue fighting for the future of the country and its people even after the end of elections.
De Lima explained that the apparent failure of Otso Diretso’s senatorial candidates to make it to the Senate might mean “a renewed mandate for Duterte and all the negative consequences it entails for Philippine democracy.”
“This would constitute the second phase of the authoritarian experiment under Duterte, which would certainly be more terrible and frightening, what with the capture of virtually all major political institutions by Duterte,” she said.
She pointed out that the Filipino people should be wary at Charter Change, a bloodier drug war and more extrajudicial killings in the government’s all-out war on drugs, and the total capitulation of the country to China.
She also added that she dreads an unmitigated and unchecked corruption and abuse of power in the Duterte administration, and more repression of the opposition, critics, and pro-democracy forces and human rights defenders.
“Despite this bleak forecast, pro-democracy forces have no choice but to keep on fighting. This is now a matter of survival for Philippine democracy. If this is the second phase of Duterte’s authoritarian experiment, it will also be the second surge of the struggle against it,” she said.
De Lima, a former election lawyer before she entered government service, reiterated that the fight for truth, justice and good governance does not end after the 2019 mid-term polls. #MatalinongBoto2019