The Philippine Opposition, which consist mainly of the Liberal Party, its supporters, and allies, deserve an award. They deserve an award for trying. They are trying hard to paint a picture that the country is all “doom and gloom” under President Rodrigo Duterte. They are also trying hard to paint themselves as “victims” of oppression. The problem with what they are doing is that, it is not consistent with the reality that most people perceive. So all they are ever going to get in this game of perception is one of those consolation prizes they give out to contestants for their “efforts”.
Take the case of former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman who claims the culture of fear in the country is “strong”. She said that while mocking Duterte and other government officials during a “fun” Halloween party recently held by the group EveryWoman. She was also wearing the image of Philippine National Police Chief Ronaldo “Bato” Dela Rosa as her Halloween costume. She even mimicked Dela Rosa crying for the cameras. Of course she contradicted herself with her own actions.
What fear is Soliman talking about? Who are fearful and who do they fear? According to them the party was meant to poke fun at public officials and online influencers supposedly oppressing ordinary Filipinos, especially women. But if there really is a “culture of fear” in the Philippines, how are they able to hold a party dedicated to mocking the current government they accuse of oppression without getting into trouble? Soliman and her group are just not making any sense.
I can help them understand their own dilemma. Being oppressed is not their problem. Their problem is irrelevance. The only people who listen to them nowadays are the misguided liberals who like playing the victim card and those who are gullible enough to believe their sob stories. They are like women scorned who speak ill of the men who dumped them. The description is fitting since Rappler’s coverage of the event described the party-goers as holding “a beer pong game with the faces of Duterte supporters on the cups”. That was not very nice of them to do. There are a lot of women in Duterte’s cabinet and die-hard supporters.
If the group EveryWoman is true to their ideals of protecting women’s rights, they should also protect the women who made a conscious decision to support Duterte. When they mock blogger and assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Mocha Uson, they are inadvertently making a mockery of themselves and their beliefs. Some of the members of the Opposition also mock Duterte’s current partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña by calling her “kabit” or mistress. Just because there is no divorce law in the Philippines doesn’t mean they can disrespect her. They are being inconsistent once again. If they espouse liberal views, which are supposed to be “progressive”, they should accept Avanceña’s lifestyle choice. Besides, Duterte’s first marriage was already annulled so therefore, she is not a “kabit”. Sadly, Avanceña gets more respect from members of the international community than members of the Philippine community. Foreign dignitaries treat her like a First Lady.
Soliman and her cohorts ignore the fact that Duterte gives key positions in his government to women. Soliman and former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles who is also a staunch critic of Duterte should accept that their time in the limelight is over. They had their chance to make a difference when they were still in power during former President BS Aquino’s term, but they didn’t even make a dent. Soliman was a failure as DSWD secretary especially when she allegedly mismanaged the Yolanda funds and had to bury the rotten relief goods instead of distributing these on time to those in dire need during the disaster because of her department’s incompetence. Deles was also a failure in her bid to sell the ill-conceived Bangsamoro Bill to the people. Now both are just drinking alcohol and wallowing in their miseries.
Speaking of awards, Senator Leila De Lima who is currently detained for drug related charges was recently given the “highest human rights honour” – a prize for Freedom by the Liberal International (LI) during their 199th Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. The committee is said to be championing De Lima as “a flag-bearer for human rights in the Philippines and beyond, setting a shining example for other human rights defenders”. That’s ironic considering De Lima has been a failure during her stint as Chair of Commission on Human Rights during former President Gloria Arroyo’s term. She was in a position to hold Duterte accountable for the crimes she accuses him of, but she failed to do so. Why couldn’t she speak out against Duterte during BS Aquino’s term? Was it because the Liberal Party needed Duterte’s help to win? Now that Duterte is the President and consequently defeated the Liberal Party in the Presidential Election, she is very vocal against him.
Members of Liberal International should look deeper and do their own investigation into De Lima’s dark past instead of believing everything she is saying. As what I wrote before in a previous article, De Lima was Department of Justice Secretary for six years but did not stop or was too incompetent and, possibly, too corrupt to stop the debauchery that went on inside the national penitentiary with drug lords using the prison as hotel and running their drug operation inside. She allowed that to happen and is therefore, complicit in proliferation of drugs in the country. She needs to answer for that.
No, De Lima doesn’t deserve the “highest human rights honour” particularly since she herself denied another human being’s right to presumption of innocence and right to travel abroad when she detained former President Gloria Arroyo even when the trumped up charges against her were still being concocted. We all know that the charges against Arroyo were eventually dropped and dismissed, but that was after she spent five years in detention. De Lima even ignored the United Nation’s ruling won by International Human Rights lawyer Amal Alumuddin-Clooney to free Arroyo and give her compensation for being a victim of political persecution under the Aquino government. De Lima is definitely not a victim of political persecution like Arroyo. De Lima is a victim of her own indiscretions.
Another member of the Opposition that got a consolation prize is online news site Rappler. US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) recently gave the site their highest honour – the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award or whatever that means. According to NDI, Rappler “has suffered threats and severe internal pressure for its pioneering work in exposing disinformation and propaganda in the Philippines to manipulate public opinion”. I know what you’re thinking. Some of you are probably laughing out loud over this. This has got to be the most ridiculous justification for giving an award. It reeks of propaganda. Has NDI or even Rappler actually identified those who threatened or put pressure on them? They should receive an award for fiction instead.
Rappler cannot claim to be a victim of threats and pressure if they are simply reporting news. The problem with Rappler is they also publish opinions of mostly staunch Liberal Party supporters. They cannot claim to be non-partisan. They are also into sensationalism – highlighting negative issues against the current government. This is why a lot of their readers have turned against them. They cannot blame the backlash from the public on Duterte. Rappler’s award from the NDI is simply a mutual back-patting exercise. They are people who hold the same liberal views. It’s not surprising the organisation would support Rappler‘s so-called “liberal” ideas. Just because they say the Duterte government’s policy on drugs includes extra-judicial killings doesn’t mean it is true. Only a court can determine if the deaths were due to extra-judicial killings after a thorough investigation was conducted, not before.
One can be forgiven for thinking that De Lima’s and Rappler’s award are both PR stunts meant to paint the Duterte government as “oppressive”. Never mind when all those who oppose Duterte’s policies can go out into the streets hold rallies and “fun” parties just to mock him and speak ill of him without suffering or getting arrested.
The members of the Opposition deserve each other. They can admire their “plaques” of appreciation to comfort each other as they suffer from their useless anxieties.
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