MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday, February 21, reiterated her appeal to Cabinet officials to "save the country" from a "criminal" ruler by declaring President Rodrigo Duterte "unfit" to lead.
De Lima renewed the appeal in a news briefing on Tuesday, following the revelation of retired Senior Police Officer 3 Arthur Lascañas about the existence of the Davao Death Squad and the alleged involvement of the President in the vigilante group that reportedly targeted crime suspects in Davao City when Duterte was mayor.
"Sa mga miyembro ng Gabinete ni Pangulong Duterte: maari ninyong isalba ang bansang ito mula sa isang kriminal na Pangulo sa pamamagitan ng pagdeklara na dahil sa kanyang kriminal na pag-iisip, ay wala siyang kakayahan na gampanan ang mga katungkulan ng isang Pangulo," she said.
(To the members of the Cabinet of President Duterte: you can save this country from a criminal President by declaring that because of his criminal mind, he is incapable of fulfilling his duties as President.)
She also called on Filipinos to again band together and "stand up" to what she believed to be "another dictatorial regime" headed by a "sociopathic serial killer."
Apparently referring to the collective outrage that culminated in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution which toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos, De Lima urged Filipinos to stop being "passive observers of history" by breaking their silence.
"Tayo ay lahi ng mga bayani, ipakita natin ang ating tapang. Panahon na naman para tayo ay manindigan sa harap ng kriminal na diktador at rehimeng mapaniil (We are a nation of heroes; let's show our courage. The time has again come to should stand up to a criminal, a dictator and an opressive regime)," she said.
Asked whether she was calling for another people power, De Lima said, "I don't want to call for those extreme moves, but I want to call on the people not to be blind."
She said the President's alleged key role in the DDS and the extrajudicial killings in Duterte's war on drugs constituted "high crimes" which could become the basis for an impeachment complaint against the Chief Executive.
The senator, who drew the ire of Duterte for criticizing his war on drugs, noted that the more than 7,000 deaths in the controversial campaign have exceeded the number of deaths during martial rule.
Citing the DDS and the extrajudicial killings in the government's war on drugs, De Lima called Duterte the top criminal of the Philippines, if not the world.
"Sa paglantad ni Lascañas, wala nang natitirang duda na si Duterte ay mamamamatay tao at sociopathic serial killer (With Lascañas' confessions, there is no longer any doubt that Duterte is a murderer and a sociopathic serial killer)," De Lima said.
The senator said her experience under the Duterte administration was meant to serve as a warning to other critics on what would happen to them if they speak out against the government.
"Maitim ang pakay ng rehimeng Duterte: ang gamitin akong halimbawa para takutin ang kanilang kritiko (The Duterte regime has a dark plan: to use me as an example to scare its critics)," she said.
De Lima said she continues to speak out against the administration in her belief that more people would break their silence.
"Lumaban ako dahil alam kong hindi magtatagal ang pananahimik. Lumaban ako dahil alam kong hindi habang panahon ay ako lamang ang lumalaban. Lumaban ako, hanggang dumami na tayo. Lumaban ako, hanggang hindi na ako nag-iisa," the senator added.
(I am fighting back because I know that the silence would end. I'm fighting because I know that won't be fighting on my own forever. I am fighting, until we gain in number. I am fighting until I'm no longer alone.)