Robredo: 'It’s time to take a stand because democracy is at risk again'

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has called on Filipinos to take a stand now that their rights and freedoms are at risk of being curtailed once again.

This was Robredo’s message in her speech delivered after the Mass of Peace held at De La Salle University (DLSU) on Friday, September 21, the 46th anniversary of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law

Panahon na para manindigan tayo dahil nanganganib nang muli ang demokrasya. At ito ang kailangan nating tandaan: Tinatawag tayo ng panahon upang umaksyon at ang pagkakataong ganito ay minsan lamang babalik sa atin,” said the Vice President. 

(It’s time to take a stand because democracy is at risk again. And this is what we have to remember: We are called upon by the moment to take action and a chance like this will rarely come again.) 

The Vice President expressed hope that Filipinos would set aside their differences especially for the sake of those on the margins of society.

Para sa ating mga kababayang kapos at naghihirap, isantabi natin ang lahat na hidwaan, alang-alang sa kanila. Dahil kung mayroon man tayong mapupulot na aral noong nagtagumpay tayo laban sa diktadurya, hinding-hindi tayo magtatagumpay kung tayo ay hindi nagkakaisa,” said the Vice President. 

(Let us set aside our disagreements for the sake of our less fortunate countrymen. Because if there is any lesson learned from our victory against the dictatorship, it is that we will never succeed if we are not united.) 

Joining her at the DLSU were various members of the opposition, including Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts former president Benigno Aquino III, chairman emeritus of LP; Senator Francis Pangilinan, LP president; and Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV. La Salle president Bro. Armin Luistro also set beside the LP leaders. 

On Friday, various protest actions against the Marcos dictatorship have been organized in key cities in nationwide.

‘The Filipino is still worth dying for’

In the same speech, Robredo said the Philippines is now returning to a period similar to that of Marcos' Martial Law.

Without directly mentioning President Rodrigo Duterte, Robredo slammed his disregard for human rights and institutions like the Commission on Audit. (READ: Powering through a crisis: Defending human rights under Duterte)

Nakakadismaya rin na kaysa maasahan natin ang liderato na maging ehemplo sa ating lahat, siya pa ang nagsasabi sa mga nagsisilbi sa gobyerno na huwag susundin ang mga patakaran ng Commission on Audit, na isantabi ang karapatang pantao ng ordinaryong Pilipino, na ang rape ay katanggap-tanggap kung maraming magaganda,” said the Vice President. 

(It’s disappointing that instead of a leader we can depend on to be a good example for all, he is the one who tells those in government not to follow the rules of the Commission on Audit, to set aside the human rights of ordinary Filipinos, and to say rape as acceptable if committed on a beautiful person.)

She said government propaganda has now taken the form of “disinformation and fake news,” peddled by government officials themselves to “scare” and “confuse” the public. 

Robredo said such a situation can lead people to choose to move out of the country or worse, remain apathetic. But she recalled the famous quote of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr: “The Filipino is worth dying for.” 

Sa panahon ngayon kung saan nalalagay na naman sa hamon ang ating mga karapatan at kalayaan, lagi nating tatandaan na [nananalaytay] pa rin sa ating mga dugo bilang Pilipino ang giting at tapang at pagmamahal sa bayan na pinakita natin sa bawa’t hibla ng ating kasaysayan. Hihiramin ko iyong sinabi ni Ninoy noon, na, the Filipino is worth dying for. At masasabi natin ngayon, the Filipino is still worth dying for,” said Robredo. 

(At a time when our rights and freedoms are being challenged, let us remember that gallantry, courage, and love for country still run through our veins as we have shown in every fiber of our history. Let me borrow what Ninoy said before, that the Filipino is worth dying for. And we can say now, the Filipino is still worth dying for.)

Ninoy Aquino, the father and namesake of the former president, was one of the most prominent voices who fought the dictatorship of Marcos. His assassination in August 1983 sparked the movement that culminated in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution which ousted Marcos and restored democracy in the country. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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