Liberal Party: 2018 ‘may be the fight for nation’s soul’

Bea Cupin

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Liberal Party: 2018 ‘may be the fight for nation’s soul’
The party says lies ‘defined’ the year that was


MANILA, Philippines – “This may be the fight for our nation’s soul.”

The Liberal Party (LP) did not hold back in its statement on Sunday, December 31, in wrapping up the year that was and laying out points in the year to come. (READ: The fall of the ‘dilawang’ Liberal Party)

Hindi naging madali ang nagdaang taon para sa ating lahat. Maraming mga nakapanlulumong balita ang sumalubong sa atin (The past year has not been easy on any of us. So much bad news has come our way),” said the party in a release to media. (READ: The year of deaths and denials)

The LP, whose members belong to both the majority and minority blocs in Congress, said the following events “defined 2017 and will continue to inform our 2018”:

  • Sen. Leila de Lima’s arrest on made-up charges in February
  • The declaration of martial law in Mindanao in May
  • The killing of Kian delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, Kulot de Guzman, and other boys in August

According to the LP, it was lies that bound the 3 events. Particularly:

  • The manufactured evidence in Sen. Leila’s cases
  • The invented bases for the declaration of martial law (as are for its one-year extension)
  • The discredited idea that crime can be solved by deadly shortcuts

De Lima, an LP member and former justice secretary, was among President Rodrigo Duterte’s most vocal critics. Long-time enemies, De Lima did not hold back in criticizing Duterte’s policies, particularly the war on drugs and killings linked to it.

The newbie senator, then Senate justice committee chairman, launched a probe into alleged extrajudicial killings in the drug war. It eventually covered allegations of the so-called “Davao Death Squad” and Duterte’s hand in it when he was city mayor.

De Lima was stripped of her chairmanship and its eventual report under Senator Richard Gordon absolved the government and Duterte from cases of summary killings in the country.

She was eventually jailed over drug allegations, following a probe at the House of Representatives which featured testimonies from convicts who claimed they gave drug money to De Lima. The senator insists the allegations are false.

Congress also recently approved Duterte’s request to extend martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for another year.

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, a member of the LP, led the filing of a petition before the Supreme Court which questioned the extension.

Duterte’s bloody drug war has been criticized by many, including members of the Liberal Party. Police have been accused of either resorting to extralegal means – by themselves or through vigilante groups – in the name of the drug war. (READ: Aquino, Liberal Party members lead ‘Mass for justice’)

While they deny these allegations, in August 2017, closed circuit camera footage showed Caloocan City police dragging a 17-year-old Kian delos Santos into a dark alley during a supposed police operation in the area.

Delos Santos was killed by police, after supposedly fighting back.

Within days, news of Arnaiz, who also died at the hands of Caloocan police and De Guzman, who was later found dead, became public.

Police were criticized for their deaths and Duterte eventually ordered cops out of the drug war. Caloocan police were also pulled out of their assignments for retraining.

But Duterte has since ordered police back into the drug war.

“How will the lies be promoted in 2018? By circumventing, if not actually violating, the country’s fundamental law through Cha-cha or federalism or martial law so that some politicians can try to rule longer than allowed and that we the people won’t be allowed to choose our leaders,” said the party. (READ: New blood: Liberal Party welcomes ‘non-politicians’ into fold)

A shift to a Federal form of government was among Duterte’s key promises during the 2016 campaign.

“So let’s brace ourselves this coming year. This may be the fight for our nation’s soul. And we will fight with the only weapons we have: truth and justice,” concluded the LP. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.