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De Lima warns vs second phase of Duterte authoritarian rule

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The failure of the Otso Diretso to win in the 2019 senatorial race would lead to the “second phase” of the authoritarian experiment under the Duterte administration.

Detained Senator Leila de Lima stressed this on Sunday saying that such scenario “would certainly be more terrible and frightening, what with the capture of virtually all major political institutions by (President Rodrigo) Duterte.”

She said the apparent failure of Otso Diretso’s senatorial candidates to make it to the Senate may mean “a renewed mandate for Duterte and all the negative consequences it entails for Philippine democracy.”

De Lima has lauded the united opposition’s Senate slate Otso Diretso for running a dignified and clean race in the just-concluded elections where advancing the causes of human rights and democracy was “at the forefront.” She said the midterm elections’ results will never change how the opposition coalition’s senatorial line-up gave hope to and inspired millions of Filipinos to speak out and fight against an oppressive regime.

The Otso Diretso members include Sen. Bam Aquino, Rep. Gary Alejano, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, civic leader Sam Gutoc, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romy Macalintal, former senator Mar Roxas and ex-Rep. Erin Tanada.

In their respective statements last May 14, Macalintal, Hilbay, Gutoc, and Tanada already conceded defeat but they promised to continue fighting for the future of the country and its people even after the end of elections.

She said that the Filipino people should be wary at Charter change (Cha-cha), a bloodier drug war and more extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the government’s all-out war on drugs, and the “total capitulation” of the country to China.

She said she dreads “an unmitigated and unchecked corruption and abuse of power in the Duterte administration, and more repression of the opposition, critics, and pro-democracy forces and human rights defenders.”

“Despite this bleak forecast, pro-democracy forces have no choice but to keep on fighting. This is now a matter of survival for Philippine democracy,” she said.

“If this is the second phase of Duterte’s authoritarian experiment, it will also be the second surge of the struggle against it,” she added.