Rising fascism, intra-elite rivalry linked to de Lima’s arrest – progressive groups say

Sen. Leila De Lima

By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 26Feb2017 (BicolToday.com) – Amid calls to march in protest over President Duterte’s rising fascism timed for EDSA’s anniversary on Saturday, the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima has caused reactions from progressive groups, from being “out of sense of proportion and hypocritical” according to a lawyers’ group and “intra-elite” rivalry for oligarchic control over the state, and “intensifying rivalry among ruling classes”, but progressive groups have avoided dishing out opinion if de Lima is guilty or not.

But, Senator Francis Escudero, appealed for prayers as he was saddened over de Lima’s arrest and “prayed” that all will come to pass for her.

Senator Escudero, in a short statement sent to Bicol Today, said ” I pray that truth and justice will prevail in her case – whomsoever its face may look favorably upon – likewise pray for her children as she faces perhaps the toughest battle in her life.”

However, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and other militant groups look over de Lima’s arrest in another perspective.

“We must put a sense of proportion & look at things in a holistic perspective,” said NUPL, who reacted over de Lima’s “arrest with so much publicity” as compared to poor, “nameless” political prisoners who have been languishing in jail for several years, and whom the Duterte administration has refused their release as agreed upon during the first part of the peace talks.

“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 the Senator has all the appearances of political harassment, corruption of legal & judicial processes, selective punishment & 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,” said NUPL’s Attorneys Edre Olalia and Ephraim Cortez, in a joint statement sent to Bicol Today.

Meanwhile, Anakbayan said the arrest of Senator De Lima is a sign of the intensifying rivalry among the various factions of the ruling classes and the worsening decay of the political system under the Duterte regime.

“De Lima’s arrest comes at a time of mounting criticism by the people against the Duterte regime for its failure to fulfill its promises, lack of concrete steps to break away from US imperialism, and the brutal killings of thousands under the war on drugs gone wild, and intensifying fascism and all-out war,” said Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.

He pointed out that just like under the Noynoy Aquino regime of which then Justice Secretary De Lima was an instrument, Duterte is now using the resources, legal processes, and other apparatuses of repression in order to hit his political enemies, consolidate political power, and sow fear against groups and factions of the ruling classes attempting to oppose him.

“It can be recalled that the Liberal Party under De Lima and Robredo conspired early on to call for the overthrow of Duterte while it has not yet consolidated state power. They tried to court the support of US imperialism which previously criticized Duterte for human rights violations. Now it is payback time for Duterte,” said Crisostomo.

Anakbayan pointed out that Duterte got the backing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in order to consolidate power, and therefore set the stage for intensifying fascism, state terror, and human rights violations under his regime.

“To bring the AFP to his side, Duterte backtracked on its earlier promises to break free from US imperialist control. Duterte did not abrogate EDCA and VFA and instead approved more US military exercises in the country, continued the US-backed counterinsurgency war, and terminated the peace talks with the NDFP,” said Crisostomo.

BAYAN, in another statement, said it sees that it the past few weeks heightened contradictions among factions of the ruling elite. The political crisis has seen accusations and counter-actions from the warring factions seeking to weaken each other. The arrest of Liberal Party Senator Leila de Lima should be seen in this context.

“There is a very disturbing trend of political repression against critics of the Duterte regime. De Lima however will not be the first political prisoner under the current administration, contrary to her claims. There are at least 15 political prisoners arrested and jailed under the current government, including activists from the legal democratic movement. The practice of filling trumped-up charges and legal shortcuts is also not an invention of the current regime since these were prevalent during the regimes of Gloria Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino,” said

With de Lima’s arrest, expect contradictions among political rivals to intensify in the coming days, BAYAN asserted. [BicolToday.com]


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