The top two leaders of the Philippines continue their war on words, among other things. Vice President Leni Robredo, while speaking at a forum on the EDSA People Power movement verbally reprimanded President Duterte, telling him to stop telling lies that distort the truth that the Filipino society faces. She added that the president should lead the citizens to respect the rule of law rather than disregard it.
She said that Pres. Duterte should uphold basic human rights that had been embedded in the institution. A leader should not abuse the law. She said the president should make true his promise to be a good leader of the country.
The Vice President gave the speech at the same time that Senator Leila de Lima, was arrested for her alleged participation in the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison. De Lima is a member of the Liberal Party, where Robredo is the highest elected official and interim chair. She called the arrest as a very clear message that anyone who dares speak against the president risks his or her security.
Continuing with her speech, she urged President Duterte to focus his attention on what’s the real issue plaguing the country – poverty. Without going into details on what other social ills poverty leads to, she said that the president should instead wage war on poverty because right now, millions of Filipinos are poor, jobless and hungry. Political noise cannot satisfy empty stomachs.
VP Robredo has been quite vocal against some of the administration’s policies, but her speech Friday was the first time that she publicly addressed the President. That makes it twice in a row for the Vice President. On Thursday, she had another speech wherein she strongly spoke against the president’s war on drugs, which she said was escalating into a “war against the poor.”
In her speech on Friday, she urged the public to demand for more transparency on the war against drugs, saying that it’s our right because it’s financed by public funds. Her criticism included the inconsistencies the government shows when presenting the scope of the nationwide operation.
Signs of dictatorship
Signs of dictatorship are clearly showing, hinted VP Robredo during her speech at the UP School of Economics Friday. That was shortly after news broke out that Senator De Lima, the fiercest critic of the incumbent president, was arrested. She also said the Filipinos are quick to forgive and forget, citing the fact that the Marcos heirs are slowly emerging.
It could be remembered that she was one of those who strongly opposed Pres. Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Much of her rhetoric echoed the sentiments of previous opposition leaders during past administrations. The VP was also quick to mention that other public officials are riding on the issues and called some “false prophets” for declaring that they are the Filipinos’ hope; that the bloody war against drug is necessary to completely get rid of the country’s ills and those who are against it are traitors. One of her strongest remarks was when she asked whether the Filipinos should cling to the hope that there is goodness in every one or choose to follow a larger-than-life leader who promised to make the country a better place to live in within six months (of his presidency) – directly quoting the election campaign promise of Duterte.
No rebuttal (yet)
Pres. Duterte was in Davao during the EDSA Revolution commemoration and has not made any comments on Robredo’s speeches. However, during his speech at the turnover ceremonies of the half a million peso drug rehabilitation facility in Sitio Maag, the President said that he is protecting the Filipino people, the community – stating that it was his sworn duty. This is in reference to the allegations that he ordered the killing of drug pushers, even innocent individuals on his campaign to rid Davao City of drug pushers and users while he was still Davao City’s mayor. He said that he gave very clear orders to his officials: they should hunt the pushers and ask them to stop their illegal activities and if they do not comply, they should be arrested. He added that he did say that if the drug pushers should put up a fight, then the arresting officers can kill them. Pres. Duterte added that it is better if the pushers were the ones killed instead of law enforcers. In the effort to get rid of his city (Davao) of drug pushers, and now the entire Philippines, the president said that these people who are into illegal drug trade should not expect him to show any mercy.