MANILA, Philippines – On the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, detained Senator Leila de Lima urged Filipinos to "inflame the spirit of EDSA" amid what she called efforts of a few to weaken it.
"Sa kasalukuyan, pilit na sinusubukan ng ilan na palabnawin ang diwa ng EDSA kasabay ng pagsupil sa ating demokrasya (At present, a few are trying to dilute the spirit of EDSA while repressing our democracy)," De Lima said in a statement Saturday, February 25.
She added: "Anuman ang ating katayuan sa buhay, kawani man ng pamahalaan, kasapi ng media, o karaniwang mamamayan, malinaw ang panawagan sa lahat: Sa harap ng nagbabadyang kadiliman, pag-alabin pa natin ang diwa ng EDSA. Sama-sama tayong tumindig laban sa mapaniil na rehimen at diktadurya, at kapit-bisig na ipaglaban ang katotohanan at katarungan sa ating bayan."
(Whatever our status in life may be, be it a government employee, member of the media, or an ordinary citizen, the message for all is clear: In the face of looming darkness, let's inflame the spirit of EDSA. Let us all stand up against the oppressive regime and dictatorship, and link arms to fight for truth and justice in our country.)
In the strongly-worded statement, De Lima said the country has a President who "threatens to bring back Martial Law" and who "openly supports the killing of thousands of people." (READ: Duterte: 'Thousands' killed in Davao City drug war)
She said the "grim reality" is that more people have been killed in the first 7 months of the Duterte administration than the entire martial rule of the Marcos regime, which lasted from 1972 to 1981. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)
"Gayundin, laganap ang mga propagandang kinukubli ang katotohanan, lalo na ang hayagang panggigipit, pagpapatahimik, at pag-aresto sa kritiko ng Pangulo – kahit walang lehitimong batayan – para lamang pagtakpan ang kapalpakan ng gobyerno," she said, alluding to her own situation.
(In addition, there is widespread propaganda to hide the truth, especially the harassment, silencing, and arrest of the President's critic – even without legal basis – just to cover up the failure of the government.)
She is worried about the "future that awaits" Filipinos should "the dictatorial rule and the violation of our rights" continue and the people would just shut their eyes to these.
"Alalahanin po natin: Walang People Power, walang demokrasya, walang tunay na kalayaan kung nanahimik at nagwalang kibo lamang ang sambayanan sa harap ng talamak na katiwalian, karahasan at pagmamalabis sa kapangyarihan," she added.
(Let us remember: No People Power, no democracy, and no real freedom if the nation stayed silent in the face of rampant corruption, violence, and abuse of power.)
De Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested Friday, February 24, over drug charges filed against her by the Department of Justice before a court in Muntinlupa.
"It's my honor to be jailed for the principles I am fighting for," De Lima told reporters in Filipino before her arrest.
Malacañang welcomed the arrest as a "major step forward" in its war on drugs, while Liberal Party politicians and sectors supporting De Lima say it's simple persecution.
Ahead of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, Duterte reminded Filipinos that no single "party, ideology, religion, or individual" can claim credit for the bloodless revolution at EDSA.
At an EDSA People Power forum on Friday, Vice President Leni Robredo took the cudgels for her party mate, De Lima, and urged Duterte to focus on the war on poverty, the most important issue that still affects a majority of Filipinos 31 years the restoration of democracy in the country. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.