VICE President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and Sen. Leila de Lima on Saturday decried what they claimed was “darkness” shrouding the country, as they urged the Filipino people to gather strength for the New Year and have faith that the “light” will come.
In her New Year message, Robredo said unwelcome changes were brought about by desperation and hatred from some people, such as the poor.
“May kumakalat na madilim na pagbabago [Dark change is spreading],” she said. “Ang mga taong lugmok sa kahirapan ay humihiyaw sa galit—at bakit naman hindi? Sila naman talaga ang dapat pinakikinggan ng ating pamahalaan at nating lahat [People mired in poverty are crying in anger—and why not? It is they the government and the rest of us should be listening to].”
Robredo, who quit the Duterte Cabinet on December 4, was accused on Thursday by the President of involvement in efforts to oust him. The vice president on Friday denied joining rallies calling for President Rodrigo Duterte’s ouster.
Robredo, the highest ranking Liberal Party member and its interim chair, has been vocal in denouncing a number of policies of Duterte, including the proposed restoration of the death penalty, the government’s retreat from its West Philippine Sea claims, the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and the brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.
“As we welcome the New Year, let our homes be filled with light and peace. If there is harmony in our homes, let us remain strong for whatever storm might rock our nation. Even in the darkest night, we will always find light; we just need to learn to see with gratitude in our hearts,” she said in Filipino.
“This coming year, let us take to heart beautiful change, in our own lives, and in our being Filipino. Let us love simple life and simple joys, deepen the manner of our service to our loved ones, and widen our understanding for those at the edges of society,” she added.
“The New Year brings new opportunities. Let us continue to trust. Let us continue to have faith that at the end of it all—what is right and what is good will always prevail.”
Another staunch Duterte critic, Sen. Leila de Lima, who has denied accusations of involvement in the drug trade, said many people could no longer be with their loved ones because of killings.
“We have countrymen who have been killed, instead of given the chance to change their ways. Amid the feasting and shiny decorations, there are others in anguish and deep sadness in the memory of their slain parents, children, sibling, spouse, and friend. How do we celebrate, if the killings and injustice in society continue?” she said in her New Year message.
“However heavy the trials of life, however dark the period covering our nation, I have faith that the light will come. As the New Year comes, I believe in the greater compassion of Filipinos for fellow Filipinos and respect for human rights. With the Lord’s guidance, let us unite toward a truly peaceful and just nation,” de Lima said.
According to a yearend report released by Malacañang, a total of 2,166 drug suspects were killed in 40,284 police operations from July 1 to December 30.
A total of 1,003,118 people surrendered amid the drug war, while 42,978 suspects were put behind bars.
The report did not include the growing number of people left dead on sidewalks with cardboard signs over or near their bodies claiming they were involved in illegal activities.
Speaker wants paradigm shift
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was optimistic in the coming year as a result of the new administration’s “achievements” in the past six months.
“The Duterte administration has made significant gains not only in the war on illegal drugs and in fighting crime and corruption, but also in laying the ground for sustained socioeconomic advance, lasting peace and political reforms,” he said.
Alvarez called for unity behind the reform agenda of the President, including the shift to a federal system, putting an end to poverty, strengthening democratic institutions and moving the country forward.
“Let us take the first of the many giant steps we as one nation must undertake to effect a paradigm shift by changing our form of government from presidential to federal. Let’s all open our eyes that it is only through federalism that we can break the barriers of a fatally flawed Manila-centrist government to one that grants political and economic autonomy to all of our country’s regions,” he said.