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Minority senators call for vigilance amid creeping 'Dutertadorship'

Senators of the minority caucus in the Senate called on Filipinos to be more vigilant amid the creeping threats of 'Dutertadorship.' Philstar.com/Jonathan Asuncion

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Thursday warned Filipinos against the creeping "Dutertadorship" of President Rodrigo Duterte as the country marks 45 years to the day martial law was declared which signaled the beginning of one of the darkest chapters of Philippine history.

Dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 in an effort to perpetuate himself in power. The 1935 Constitution limited Marcos to only two terms, and his second term was supposed to end in 1973.

He lifted the declaration only in 1981 although many of the restrictions of the period were still in place until his ouster in 1986.

Thousands of human rights abuses were recorded during this period and the family of Marcos is accused of stealing and stashing abroad $10 billion.

Hontiveros along with Sens. Leila De Lima, Bam Aquino and Francis Pangilinan all called on the people to be more vocal and ensure that the abuses seen during the time of Marcos would not be repeated.

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Hontiveros, a vocal critic of the president's government especially his brutal campaign against illegal drugs, said that the Philippines was already under an authoritarian regime marked by its policy of killing, use of fake news as a political tool to stifle dissent and "palpable hatred and persecution of women."

"It is Marcos-inspired. It is modern-day Philippine autocratic governance. It has little or no regard at all for the rule of law and civil liberties," she said.

She called on Filipinos to "push back" and "turn the tide" to promote democracy and human rights.

"Now is not the time for meek submission, not while innocent lives are slain, hopes are extinguished, and the promise of peace and order is instead stained with bloodshed and grief. Now is not the time to bow our heads and stay quiet," she said.

De Lima said Duterte was "a coward, a killer, a liar and dictator with the mind of a criminal" as she blasted the violence that transpired during the president's more than a year in office.

The senator said, "Isipin niyo nalang kung saan dadalhin ni Duterte ang bansa oras na may Batas Militar na sa buong Pilipinas."

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The senator slammed the changes that the president had done such as the more than 13,000 killed in his drug war, the release of politicians accused of plunder, disrespect for human rights, intimidation of the opposition, lying and crackdown on the press.

She dared the president to directly answer questions on the entry of billions of illegal drugs from China, his administration's "tepid" response to China's incursions into Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea and the involvement of his son and son-in-law in the smuggling of drugs at the Bureau of Customs.

"Ibinalik man ni Duterte sa madilim na kabanata ang ating bansa, nasa alab pa rin ng ating pagkakaisa ang panunumbalik ng liwanag at pag-asa," said the senator who is currently detained in Camp Crame on charges that she claimed were trumped up in an effort to silence her.

The president has been issuing contradictory statements of late, according to Aquino.

He said Filipinos should show that they had learned the lessons of martial law and would not allow a repeat of the abuses seen during this period.

He advised the president to change some of his policies and to pursue the reforms that he was elected on.

"Imbes nakukuha ang reforms, nakikita natin na pinapayagan ang patayan na nangyayari sa atin bayan," he said.

He said that the police had shown in the past that crimes could be curbed without resorting to violence, dismissing accusations that the opposition should cease criticizing the president because it already had its chance during former President Benigno Aquino III's reign.

Pangilinan, the president of Liberal Party, said Duterte should criticize and oppose the rights abuses and killings under his administration.

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