Around the University TownLeila de Lima talks to students in Dumaguete

Leila de Lima talks to students in Dumaguete

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Former Sen. Leila de Lima took center stage on April 23 at Silliman University and at Negros Oriental State University in a panel discussion organized by the Mamamayang Liberal and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom-Philippines.

Co-organized by the University hosts including the student councils of St. Paul University-Dumaguete, and Foundation University, the fora focused on critical issues of human rights, democracy, and social justice.

De Lima, a social justice champion who was detained by ex-President Duterte for almost seven years,is the spokesperson for the Liberal Party and its vice president for Policy, Reforms & Advocacy. She was here in Dumaguete with former Cong. Teddy Baguilat and former Cong. Erin Tañada.

Former Deputy House Speaker Tañada is Liberal Party VP for External Affairs. Former Congressman Baguilat (Ifugao) is secretary-general of the Liberal Party.

Students and the councils of NORSU, SPUD, and FU participated in the panel discussion “Political Education Forum” at the NORSU Sports & Cultural Complex; while the SU Student Government led students in its “Chikkahan sa Silliman” held at the SU Audio-Visual Theatre.

“Now that I am free, I am committed to my foremost advocacies: human rights, rule of law, democracy, justice, and social justice,” said De Lima, a staunch critic of ex- President Duterte; the charges filed against were later retracted. “Pinag-initan lang ako because I dared push back dun sa extrajudicial killings of small-time drug users.”

“Early on, I could see there were lots of killings already; which was clear to my mind that it was just an extension of the death squad phenomenon,” De Lima said, recalling how she investigated the Davao Death Squad in 2009 when Duterte was mayor.

 

Faith in democracy

Tañada asked the students if they have  lost faith in democracy since the 2022 national elections.

He urged them to not lose hope because that is the “essence of democracy”.

“We don’t always win, right? Sometimes, we also lose. Sometimes the other party is better at playing the ball, or [better at] giving out wrong information, and our fellow citizens believe it,” he said.

Tañada added that the game is not over for everyone to dream of a better Philippines for all.

“What we need to know is where we are weak, and where we will get better next,” he said.

 

Interconnectedness

For his part, former Congressman Baguilat, who is president of the Global Consortium of Indigenous/Local Communities Conserved Areas/Territories, reiterated: “You cannot be an environmental activist if you are not an advocate for indigenous people’s rights.”

He added that the challenge is to “continue the activism, whether it’s for the environment, for mental health, for indigenous people’s rights; but let us also try to explain to our friends, our family, our neighbors that all of these are connected to a fair and just world.”

 De Lima stressed the importance of taking a principled stance on various issues, emphasizing that it’s not about aligning with any particular political figure, but about advocating for what is right for the country.

“We engage in discourses depending on all issues. So it’s not about being pro-Marcos or being pro-Duterte but about espousing the right and principled position in the various issues besetting our country,” De Lima said, referring to LP principles.

Ang sagot sa mga problemang hinaharap po natin ay nasa ating kamay. Kung tayo po ay magpapabaya at manatiling malungkot, hindi tayong mahilos parang sa magandang kinabukasan po natin.  Democracy is a work-in-progress. It will not provide immediate solutions to all our problems. We have to take one step at a time,” Tañada said. (Alenah Paulane Ligan, SU MassComm)

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Photo Caption: Erin Tañada, Leila de Lima, and Teddy Baguilat pose with students representing the SUSG and the eight minority sectors of the Diverse Advocates of Student Inclusion & Growth (DASIG), during the Chikkahan sa Silliman in campus. (Angelina Athena Rival photo)

 

 

 

 

 

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