Challenges to freedom of speech
Free expression thrives well in a democracy. This includes raising questions and criticisms to check perceived abuses by those in power. But now, this freedom is utterly being challenged by threats and intimidation from the administration.
This is best illustrated by the fate of those criticizing and disapproving some actions and intentions of the present administration.
For instance, when Vice President Leni Robredo condemned in a video message the extrajudicial killings in connection with the drug war, she was threatened outright with impeachment (for treachery) by administration henchmen led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, acting in accordance with constitutional mandate to cite legal points, met impeachment calls from the same quarter who thought that she was interfering with the executive turf.
The likes of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch Duterte critic, naturally, could not escape the harangues of administration defenders whenever he expounds on the issue of the day.
But among them, Sen. Leila de Lima suffered the worst as a dissenter. She has been critical of President Duterte since the latter was Davao City mayor, when at the time — as chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) — she conducted an investigation on the mayor’s alleged human rights violations.
Mr. Duterte considered that occasion too unforgivable that he relentlessly pursued the imprisonment of De Lima who he dubbed as protector of drug lords in the New Bilibid Prison.
Even the Court of Appeals got the ire of Speaker Alvarez when it ruled on the release of the “Ilocos Six” from detention in the House of Representatives. The overreaching speaker threatened to abolish the court, unmindful of the constitutional crisis it may create.
In the meantime, President Duterte, bristling from the inquiries of the CHR on his drug war, has sent warnings to abolish the entire organization, without deference to the value of human life. Anyway, the President would not take heed of this great concern of humanity!
NESTY REYES, Molino 2, Bacoor City, Cavite
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