De Lima backs bishops, calls Duterte a 'false messiah'

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
De Lima backs bishops, calls Duterte a 'false messiah'

Sen. Leila de Lima, a fierce critic of the president, labeled the chief executive as a "false messiah." AP/File

MANILA, Philippines — Opposition figure Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday described the president as a "fake idol and false messiah" as she and another Liberal Party senator expressed support for the pastoral letter released by Philippine bishops over the weekend criticizing the government's anti-drugs program.

In separate statements, De Lima and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, the LP president, expressed their solidarity with the stand of the bishops against the killings of suspected drug suspects.

De Lima called President Rodrigo Duterte a "fake idol and false messiah in Malacanang" and out of touch if he thought that he could keep the "moral and spiritual fiber" of the nation intact while despising the people's value for life, liberty and social justice.

De Lima also criticized the statement of the Palace on Sunday characterizing the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) pastoral letter as "out of touch with the sentiments of the faithful."

Churches all over the country read on Saturday night and Sunday a pastoral letter from the CBCP calling on the faithful to take a stand against extrajudicial killings associated with the war on drugs of the government.

The pastoral letter was released several days after the publication of an Amnesty International report titled "If You are Poor You are Killed: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippines" which criticized Filipino authorities for ordering the police and enlisting others to kill thousands in the course of the government's intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

READ: Amnesty: Paid killers, cops behind some drug-related deaths

"For the Palace to say that reminding our people of these basic Filipino values is being out of touch with reality is like saying that our countrymen no longer value life, liberty, and social justice," de Lima, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said.

'Wake-up call'

De Lima said the pastoral letter from the bishops was just a "wake-up call" of the universal values lost and forgotten by the people at the start of the drug war.

"The CBCP letter is a wake-up call to a nation that is in nightmare. Binabangungot na ang ating bansa sa patayan at kawalan ng puso ng pamahalaan sa mga mahihirap ng biktima ng Tokhang," the former justice chief said.

De Lima slammed the president for thinking that killing people would save the republic.

"Ginigising lang tayo ng simbahan, dahil ang huwad na panaginip ng Pangulong Duterte na maisasalba ang ating bayan sa pamamagitan ng patayan ay siyang malaking kahibangan," she said.

Pangilinan, meanwhile, said that government's push to rid the Philippines of the problem with illegal drugs should not cost the country the lives of its people especially the innocent.

It was the poor who carried the burden of the war on drugs of the government, he said.

Pangilinan also advised the government against using killing as a solution to problems plaguing the country such as poverty, inflation and lack of jobs.

"Killing, whether by criminals or the State, is never the solution to the country's continuing problems of the poverty, high prices of basic goods, and insufficient decent jobs," he said.

He also called on the government to give justice to the families of those killed by criminals.

"Our government must uphold its responsibility to protect our people, to promote their welfare, and make them safe," Pangilinan said.


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