SEN. Leila de Lima on Sunday said the Duterte administration has turned Filipinos into a “bloodthirsty mob” through the use of false information.
In a prepared speech during a multi-sectoral forum held at the University of the Philippines, the detained senator warned that the country is facing a serious human rights crisis.
“It bothers me that the absence of unanimous and resounding indignation is allowing even more killings to be committed with impunity,” de Lima said in a speech read by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th during the “So Ano Na” people’s forum.
She noted the unlimited propaganda machinery that is at the disposal of President Rodrigo Duterte and the police, which include an online troll army.
The senator added that the machinery churns out dubious data about the drug problem and its relation to criminality. She was referring to the claims that there are three million drug addicts who are criminally inclined.
“In other words, our people have been turned into a bloodthirsty mob through the use of false information and false narratives. That is betrayal of public trust of the highest order,” she said.
The senator insisted that crime is more complicated than what the present administration wants the people to believe.
What is also alarming is that there are officials who see nothing wrong with the widespread misinformation.
“We cannot become a people who do not mind killings, especially when the killings are based on lies,” she said.
De Lima appealed to the public to help make the nation realize that the victims of the war on drugs are also human who have families.
“We must pull back the mask of anonymity that comes with being one of a faceless mass, and let the nation see the humanity that lies beneath. Let them hear the faces and hear the voices of the very few victims who survived, and the families left behind,” she noted.
Another opposition senator, Risa Hontiveros, called for a broad political opposition against Duterte’s rising authoritarianism.
“We cannot allow this new form of authoritarianism to rise unchallenged. All progressive, reform-oriented and democratic forces must close ranks to build a viable and sustainable political and democratic opposition to President Duterte’s undemocratic rule,” Hontiveros said in the same event.
But to be able to mount an effective opposition, the defense of democracy must also be a struggle for a “new and better democracy.”
Hontiveros also denounced Duterte’s plan to expand martial.
“Duterte and his apologists want martial law to be the new normal. They think martial law is a magic antidote that will address all of the country’s woes. This government thinks it is a “silver bullet” for delivering peace and order,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had said that any extension of martial law must not exceed 60 days.
Hontiveros also slammed Duterte for his latest rape joke.
“You can mess with, maybe a Miss Universe. Maybe I will even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody when you know you are going to die,” the President had said.
Hontiveros said the joke was not funny.
WITH ELSHA MAE ROBLES