By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Leila de Lima has lauded the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas Skimmers dance group for standing up to the Duterte administration’s anti-people policies through their performance which “smacks of the truth” without sugar-coating the reality under the present government.
“I laud the UPV Skimmers for their patriotic creativity. Sa panahong ang mga katulad ninyong kabataan at estudyante ay patuloy na sinisikil ang karapatang magpahayag, ang inyong katapangan at pagkamalikhain ay tunay na kahanga-hanga, (At a time where our youth and students’ rights to express their views are suppressed, your bravery and creativity are truly admirable),” de Lima said.
“Their presentation is only a reaction to the truth and reflects the brutal reality articulated by Duterte himself in his public speeches. It was a social satire that hit right through the core of present Philippine society,” she added.
The performance, which became viral on social media, highlighted Duterte’s close relationship with China, the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute, the removal of teaching Filipino in schools, and the failure of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) bill to be passed into law.
De Lima noted the issues their performance tackled were not only about university issues, but also tackled national issues that were mostly critical of the present government.
After the video of the Visayas dance group went viral, pro-Duterte online supporters criticized their routine and message, and immediately targeted its members.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo had said it was a “very natural” reaction for pro-administration netizens to harass member of the UPV Skimmers.
De Lima said she finds it a horrifying truth that legitimate dissent is treated as a crime, and dissenters are punished for disrupting the peace, while Duterte normalizes killings and violence.
“When Duterte spews his usual poison about murdering people, it is quickly defended by his DDS minions as part of his playful or dark humor,” she pointed out.
“But when a group of students quip about killing him, it is subversion,” she said.
“Because of their hard-hitting commentary, these students are now subjected to the organized hate speech of the Duterte machinery, the very same ones used to persecute me and the rest of the political opposition,” she added.
De Lima said she hopes that the group’s creativity would continue to inspire other Filipinos to think out of the box in defying and resisting the present administration.
“Creative dissent is most powerful when it speaks of the everyday woes of the people, those that would otherwise remain unspoken and unheard,” the lawmaker pointed out.