Unbowed Leila: Rody a tired, old narcissist

Battered but unbowed, Sen. Leila de Lima came out swinging yesterday at President Duterte.

The President is a “tired, old narcissist” waging psychological warfare against Filipinos to hide his incompetence and failure, De Lima told a forum that discussed moves to restore the death penalty.

The possible revival of capital punishment, De Lima said, “is nothing more than the veritable desperate last stand” of the President “who likely realizes that his temperament, skills set and parochial approach to governance – which includes his own brand of patronage politics and kumpare system – are ill-suited and, frankly, incapable of finding real and lasting solutions to the problems of the country he swore to serve.”

“To hide his incompetence and failure, his go-to recourse has been to impose ‘final solutions’ upon the very people he was entrusted to serve and protect, hoping that we are stupid and naive enough to mistake the body count for real accomplishments,” she told the forum held at the UP College of Law.

De Lima said the administration is trying to spiritually and morally weaken Filipinos to force a culture of death on the people..

More than 5,800 people have been killed in the administration’s war on drugs since July 1 based on data from the Philippine National Police.

The casualties include 2,004 suspected drug offenders supposedly killed in police operations and 3,841 victims of extrajudicial or vigilante killings.

With Filipinos getting bombarded each day with news of drug-related killings, a revival of the death penalty is likely to further “desensitize” citizens to violent deaths. Killings reportedly average 38 victims a day.

She also said talk of martial law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus under the Duterte administration fits a pattern of “systematic and egregiously manipulative psychological warfare” against the Filipino people.

The pattern, she said, started with the sowing of discord and divisiveness by fostering the “if you are not with us, you are against us” mentality, aided by the rise of cyber-trolling and spreading of fake news.

“Step two, spread fear among the populace through the publication of unverified drug hit lists that are so notoriously unreliable, they included individuals who are already dead,” De Lima said.

She said the next steps would be to use the war on drugs to sow greater fear and chip away the people’s expectation of respect and protection for their rights through threats of declaration of national state of emergency or the suspension of writ of habeas corpus.

“Step five, revise the history of Philippine democracy by giving a hero’s burial to the dictator – whose martial law regime saw not just rampant corruption, but also heinous and gross violations of human rights,” De Lima said, warning against the next stage which may pave way for the declaration of martial law.

“All of these things, which by themselves are already far from innocuous, when taken together attain an even greater level of insidiousness that only hints at the true horror that lies in wait for us: they are intended to slowly, but surely break us down,” she added.

No fence sitter

Challenging law students and human rights defenders, the senator said there could be no passive observers where there are people dying.

“Are you among those who are already broken down that you are now prepared to surrender your humanity to those who would not just destroy it, but also use it to destroy others? Are you, now, just another cog in this murderous machine?” De Lima asked.

“Can you still stand up and say that you are not your government? Or are you ready to accept defeat?”

Underscoring her opposition to death penalty, the senator said that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime but is actually a tool for political oppression and suppression.

She said Filipinos patriots like Andres and Procopio Bonifacio, Jose Rizal, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, and Wenceslao Vinzons were among the victims of death penalty.

“The death penalty was never as much an effective instrument of justice, as it has been a horrifyingly potent weapon for the politically and militarily powerful to wield against those they seek to oppress and subjugate,” she said.

“It isn’t enough for them to rewrite our past, they want us to write our future in our own blood,” the senator said.

De Lima is facing various criminal and administrative complaints before the Senate, the Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court (SC) for her alleged links to drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.

Duterte had accused her of protecting drug lords, who allegedly bankrolled her senatorial campaign.

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