Malacañang on Saturday downplayed the statement of detained Sen. Leila de Lima who urged Filipinos to keep the spirit of the EDSA People Power Revolt “alive” amid what she called efforts of a few to weaken it.
In a radio interview, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said De Lima’s voice is not what the Filipinos need right now.
“I would say that her call to keep the Spirit of EDSA, of nation building and freedom alive is very worthwhile. However, I doubt if she is the kind of… if hers is the kind of voice that the people need at this stage,” Abella told government-run dzRB radio.
“We need people who are truly and sincerely [nationalist], [patriotic], nation builder and not… somebody who takes advantage of political position for their own advancement,” he added.
In a statement, De Lima said some people were trying to “dilute” the spirit of EDSA while trying to repress democracy.
“At present, a few are trying to dilute the spirit of EDSA while repressing our democracy,” De Lima said in Filipino.
“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,” she added.
The senator issued the statement a day after she surrendered following the release of her arrest warrant by a Muntinlupa City court. She was accused of being involved in the illicit drugs trade in the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice Secretary.
De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
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 EDSA revolt.
Abella also shrugged off Vice President Leni Robredo’s statement that the President should focus on the war against poverty.
“I think it’s just a question of opening our eyes and listening and looking at things and listening to things that truly matter, that are beyond our own political interests,” he said.
On accusations that De Lima is being persecuted, Abella maintained that the senator was brought to court because of a criminal case.
“I think they should face the fact and realize that Ms. De Lima is being brought to court for criminal reasons and not for political reasons,” he said.
“I think they misunderstand the fact that she is being accused of certain crimes and I think they should very well just say it’s up to [the court],” Abella said.