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Stoking the outrage

/ 12:18 AM February 19, 2017

Is there no end to the outrage being visited upon us? Or put another way: Is there no end to the ways this Duterte administration can devise to stoke our outrage, if not enrage everyone who loves our country and favors the rule of law?

Consider what transpired this week alone: The Solicitor General, considered the “lawyer” of the government, issues an unsolicited statement that he believes “pork queen” Janet Lim Napoles is innocent of the illegal detention charge that sent her to prison; the Supreme Court allows the electoral protest of failed vice-presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos to proceed; and now, the Department of Justice files charges against Sen. Leila de Lima that she conspired with drug lords during her term as secretary of justice.

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One would think the branches of government are working in concert to twist the meaning and essence of the law. And to turn back the hands of time. It’s as if the last few years never happened. As if the lessons learned, and the principles pursued, all went up in smoke the minute Du-dirty and his cohorts, all of whom have ties with previous discredited administrations, stepped into power.

Almost from the first days of the Duterte administration, the President and his lackeys—led by the Wigged One—launched a campaign not merely to discredit De Lima, but to bury her under a tsunami of charges that would eventually land her behind bars.

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The charges did not really come as a surprise to the senator, who said she had “long prepared myself to be the first political prisoner under this regime.” She said the concerted campaign of prosecution against her is “nothing less than a politically motivated act … to clamp down on any vocal opposition [to this administration’s] support for a policy of EJK (extrajudicial killing) in dealing with suspected criminals.”

To my mind, that’s even a very lawyerly way of looking at things. I sense a deeper wellspring of personal animosity against De Lima, aggravated by the fact that not only is she a woman (and outspoken women seem to have a gift for getting the President’s goat), but a woman who once dared to investigate him for the extrajudicial killings that took place while he was mayor of Davao City.

Indeed, the filing of charges against De Lima strikes me as somewhat anticlimactic. For much of his term—which is less than a year old—Mr. Duterte and his men have done nothing more, it seems, than orchestrate a case against the senator. In the process, they have been “softening” the ground of public opinion against her, even pursuing her former driver-lover to the wilds of Pangasinan just to get him to link her even more directly to the imprisoned drug lords, even as congressmen lost no time feasting on the sexual-romantic angle of their past liaison.

From the beginning, I wondered how the case against De Lima could be pursued when it was based mainly on the self-serving testimony of convicted high-profile drug personalities who, of course, had nothing to lose and everything to gain in implicating the senator. Now those drug lords even got air-conditioned rooms in exchange for their cooperation!

No matter how big or small the crowd, the upcoming show of solidarity on Feb. 25, which marks the anniversary of our one proud moment on the world stage, gains unprecedented importance at this time, and at this nadir in the national mood.

The Duterte administration has planned a “low-key” commemoration in Camp Aguinaldo, with his spokespersons advising us to “move on” from our memories of those days.

On the contrary, all the more should we remember those days, and the years since martial law when Filipinos overthrew the dictatorship and a returning icon gave his life to draw his nation together.

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We the Filipino people owe it to the martyrs of the past, to ourselves, and, more importantly, to all younger generations and those yet to come, to send a powerful message. In this era of trolls and scary social media, it may be difficult to put a finger on the public pulse. But what YOU feel, what YOU think matters nonetheless. Together, our individual outrage can gather heat and turn into a conflagration.

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TAGS: Duterte administration, outrage
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