We must don a sense of proportion and look at things in a holistic perspective.
On top of hundreds of political prisoners that previous administrations had “collected,” some 30 others—lesser known, powerless activists, farmers, indigenous peoples, social workers and peace consultants—have already been arrested brazenly in the dead of the night, for political reasons under the Duterte administration. They have been thrown into decrepit, squalid jails on false charges (though in fact for far nobler causes) without the glare of the floodlights or excessive publicity hype.
It is disgracefully hypocritical—for those who were in power before to ironically now cry foul, or for those who kept their silence during those long years—to inaccurately depict a transitory intra-elite sordid ordeal. Yes, the treatment of Sen. Leila de Lima has all the appearances of political harassment, corruption of legal and judicial processes, selective punishment and abuse of transitory power. But the stand for human rights cannot be selective, time-bound and self-serving, even as we must view it holistically.
And while everybody was distracted, where art thou heartless, big-time drug lords and coddlers who ply the trade all the way to the bank?
It is thus unfair to selectively obscure hundreds of faceless names long persecuted even during the previous watch of those who did not protest or condemn, nay, looked the other way from or justified the torture, disappearance, arrest and jailing of consistent and selfless political dissenters and principled political prisoners.
When things have calmed down, and it’s “business as usual” for political accommodations, horse-trading and legal wranglings, and after all the charivari, finger-pointing and self-righteous posturing have died down, the fundamental problems of our society—the cries of the poor and oppressed, and the need for genuine reforms, including consistently upholding the rule of justice without fear or favor—remain.
EDRE U. OLALIA, president, EPHRAIM B. CORTEZ, secretary general, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
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