De Lima to public: ‘Fight greatest fight since EDSA People Power’

David Lozada
De Lima to public: ‘Fight greatest fight since EDSA People Power’
'My battles are my own,' says the senator. 'The battlefield is actually the Filipino people’s minds. Social media has been weaponized.'

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the spate of extrajudicial killings, Senator Leila De Lima called on the public to fight the country’s “greatest” battle since the 1986 People Power Revolution that ousted the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos.

“I’m here, not to call on you to fight for me. While I thank everyone who has expressed their support for me, I know that my battles are my own,” De Lima told a human rights and democracy forum at the College of the Holy Spirit on Thursday, October 13.

De Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, said the fight is happening in people’s minds, primarily caused by disinformation on social media. (READ: Fake accounts, manufactured reality on social media)

“I’m here to ask you to fight the greatest fight our nation has faced since the People Power Revolution in 1986. But it is not a fight against the President. Not a fight against his men,” said the senator, subject of a sensational congressional probe that saw convicts testifying about her alleged links to the illegal drugs trade in the Philippines’ maximum security jail. The probe came after her ouster as chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, which was triggered by her presentation of a whistleblower who had linked Duterte to the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

“The battlefield is actually the Filipino people’s minds. Social media has been weaponized – by their own admission. Humor has been weaponized by turning serious issues like rape and other women’s issues into laughing matters,” De Lima said, taking a swipe at Duterte. (READ: Duterte: Not sorry for rape remark, that’s how I speak)

Alienation, dehumanization

De Lima said the administration has begun the art of dehumanization, which is the “greatest weapon” of a dictatorship.

Case in point, she said is the use of the “inanimate concept of drugs” to sow fear. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines’ war on drugs)

“We start by knowing what we are fighting against. What are we fighting against? I say it’s alienation and dehumanization. The greatest weapon of a dictatorship is the creation of a faceless, dehumanized source of fear. In this case, it’s the inanimate concept of drugs,” she said.

This should be stopped, said the senator, as the country has to “reclaim” its sanity, humanity, morality, and democracy.

‘Not in my name’

De Lima also called on the public, especially those who voted for Duterte, to be vigilant.

“You are not expected, or should be made to believe you’re obligated to defend your elected leader’s behavior after they assume power. Those acts are their own and you have all the right in the world to voice your objection.”

She added: “Don’t let anyone make you feel that you are complicit to their crimes just because you exercised your right to vote. ‘Wag ka pong maniwala na ang pagboto mo ay lisensiya niya para lapastanganin ang inyong mga karapatan at mas lalo na ang pumatay ay lumapastangan sa karapatan ng iba sa inyong pangalan,” she added.

She then quoted human rights lawyer and De La Salle College of Law Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, who had written about the President’s bandwagon of hate. (READ: President Duterte, do no kill in my name)

“Not in my name,” De Lima echoed Diokno, as she urged her audience to repeat the phrase after her.

De Lima and Duterte have long been at odds over the issue of human rights. As chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights under the Arroyo government, De Lima investigated the DDS and spent time in Davao to interview witnesses.

Aside from the congressional probe, she is also facing multiple drug complaints before the justice department and ethics complaints at the Senate. –

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