Sen. Leila M. de Lima has urged Filipino women to continue to take the lead in standing up and speaking out for freedom, democracy and human rights amidst sinister attempts by some quarters to silence and undermine their power.
In a message delivered on her behalf during a forum entitled “Women Defend Democracy” held in Golden Valley Hotel Cebu City, De Lima noted how women are being targeted to misogynistic and sexist attacks.
“Not just Filipino women, but women all over the world are always among the first to speak out against oppression and they are the loudest and bravest in their opposition whenever human rights and democracy are under siege,” she said.
“(But) what is really disturbing is that there are people in power who are brazenly unapologetic in their mistreatment and insensitivity towards women,” she added.
De Lima has always been subjected to misogynist remarks not only from some members of the present administration but also, most especially, by President Duterte whom she investigated on the death squad in Davao City.
The Duterte administration has unjustly implicated De Lima in the proliferation of illegal drug trade in the country as it submitted manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies from publicly-known convicted inmates.
But despite the political persecution she suffers in the hands of the present administration, De Lima has consistently spoken out against the glaring human rights violations committed in the government’s all-out war on drugs.
The former justice secretary called on Filipino women to resist attacks against women’s dignity and rights and continue to fight off lies and misinformation being peddled against the administration’s political opponents.
“At a time when we are faced with a crisis of democracy, where citizens are silenced amid the prevalence of violence in our society, we are all called upon to speak up for what is right – even if it is unpopular – and stand up for our ideals and values,” she said.
She pointed out that the true test of nationhood comes during times of conflict, and not peace, urging all women to rise up to the challenges of standing up for democracy despite attempts to silence public criticism.
“The true test of our nationhood comes not during times of peace and prosperity, but during times of conflict. The time to test and prove who we are as a people is, therefore, now,” she said.
“Sama-sama, ipaglaban natin ang ating karapatan, ang ating dignidad, ang ating pagkababae. Ipakita natin ang lakas ng Pilipina na itaguyod ang tama at makatwiran, at makiambag sa pagpapaganda ng ating kinabukasan,” she added.
The Senator from Bicol also said her moves in stepping up criticisms against the atrocities of the present administration is an obligation, not just as a Senator and public servant, but as a Filipino who believes it is simply the right thing to do.
De Lima is one of the petitioners who sought the Supreme Court to compel Congress to convene a joint session to discuss the propriety and constitutionality of President Duterte’s decision to place Mindanao under Martial Law.