Leila, Risa, Lourdes, Conchita, Maria, Catriona, Angel, Liza: Women who shine a light
“Her lamp does not go out at night.” (Proverbs 31:18)
Night has shrouded our nation. The forces of darkness are destroying our value for human life and dignity; our social solidarity, especially with the poor; and our democracy.
In this dark night, we of Gomburza, an organization of people of the Christian faith, are grateful for women bearing lamps who stubbornly shine a light into the murkiness that envelops us. Carrying this light has made them visible targets of the Duterte administration. Yet like the female disciples who braved the predawn gloom of Easter morning to attend to the Lord whom they thought was dead, they persist, never minding the risk of being accosted by the enemy.These women are many, but we wish to thank eight in particular.
We thank Sen. Leila de Lima, whose efforts to expose the violence of the Dutertes’ reign in Davao made her the first prominent target of the President’s wrath. In three and a half years of incarceration, she has not been silenced, issuing from her cell unrelenting condemnation of the administration’s assaults on human life and democracy. Lately, two agencies of government, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Anti-Money Laundering Council, have discredited the dubious grounds for her arrest.
We thank Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who has unflaggingly denounced corruption in government and the administration’s transgressions against democracy. This has made her a lightning rod for fake news, slander, and vicious threats from the administration’s defenders.
We thank former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whose censure of the administration’s offenses against the Constitution caused her impeachment. As Citizen Sereno, she has founded a movement to accompany families bereaved by the administration’s murderous anti-drug campaign.
We thank former Supreme Court associate justice and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, whose sterling service in those two positions has been exceeded by her current defense of the nation’s right to the West Philippine Sea, in the face of the administration’s subservience to China.
We thank Maria Ressa, Rappler’s chief executive officer, who has held the line for independent news coverage despite harassment by various government agencies.
We thank Catriona Gray, Angel Locsin, and Liza Soberano, young newcomers to the army of lamp bearers. Gray, a former Miss Universe, opposes the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years of age, which the President favors. Locsin and Soberano, film and television actresses, have risked damaging their popularity by criticizing the administration’s offensives against independent media. Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. has red-tagged Locsin by association, and issued a chilling warning to Soberano and Gray for speaking at a webinar of a red-tagged organization.
We call upon the judiciary to expedite Senator De Lima’s case and render fair judgment by finding her innocent and freeing her to fulfill her senatorial duties. We call upon the military to desist from threatening and red-tagging those who call out the administration’s sins against democracy and human life. We call upon Filipinos to recognize the integrity and goodwill of these women, and to support their fight for our nation.
Women bearing lamps, have courage and fortitude in this dark night! Continue to light our way back to our better selves as a nation. May the Lord keep your lamps burning until dawn.
(Sgd) MEMBERS OF GOMBURZA: SISTER TERESITA ALO, SFIC; FR. ROBERTO REYES; FR. JOSELITO SARABIA, CM; FR. FLAVIE L. VILLANUEVA, SVD; RUBY G. ALCANTARA; LOT LUMAWIG ALLANIGUE; TERESITA S. CASTILLO; DIANE CATIBOG; LUCIA LUCAS CHAVEZ; PERCIVAL CHAVEZ; ELEANOR R. DIONISIO; VERONICA ESTER MENDOZA; ANGELO SILVA