Online demolition won’t silence us – Leni

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2017 - 11:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  Amid derogatory web articles on her and her family, Vice President Leni Robredo made clear on Friday she would continue criticizing various government actions that she felt were inimical to public interest, including the plan to re-impose the death penalty and the bloody conduct of the administration’s war on drugs.

“This is not the first time that they did this to us,” she said in Filipino in Cebu, referring to various allegations that her supporters claimed were coordinated attempts to taint her image.

“They have done this before, but they did not succeed. Whatever they do, it will not silence us. We are ready. We are not hiding anything,” she added.

Robredo was reacting to the so-called #NagaLeaks, a narrative published in a pro-Duterte website containing damaging information about the Vice President and her family.

The first part, released on Friday, attempted to link her late husband, former Naga City mayor and interior secretary Jesse Robredo, to supposed drug trade in their hometown.

No document was “leaked” in the first-person narrative, which heavily relied on allegations and insinuations based on anonymous accounts.

In an interview with reporters in Cebu, the Vice President voiced concern over the growing problem of disinformation on social media.

“That is a serious problem. Social media is being used to abuse those who dissent,” she said. “The release of those leaks is an attempt to silence us.”

Meanwhile, the son of a Naga City councilor decried the insinuations made in the narrative regarding the relationship of his father to Jesse.

“It pains me that there are people out there who could easily discredit the hardships my family experienced and overcame and dismiss it as ‘unexplained wealth.’ The comfort that me and my family are experiencing is a product of hard work and, of course, a bit of good luck. More than anything else, I believe my parents’ story is a success story,” William del Rosario Jr. said in a public Facebook post.

“If this demolition job’s primary objective is to invalidate the good work Jesse Robredo has done for Naga City, and somehow associate it with Vice President Leni Robredo, by discrediting the people around him, the author/s of this ‘leak’ should do a better job,” he added. “Evidence for each severed cause of action should be presented, otherwise it would only be a cheap article meant for tabloids and not the exposé they intend it to be,” he added.

Robredo also rebuked President Duterte’s claim that killing criminals is not a crime “because they have no humanity.”

“That is his belief, but I do not agree,” Robredo said in Filipino in an interview with reporters.

“I do not believe that criminals have no humanity… Human rights are inherent to every person. Because that is inherent, no one has the right to say who is human (and who is not),” she added.

Robredo also called on the government not to brush aside the latest report of the Human Rights Watch, which accused Duterte of instigating the killings in relation to his war against illegal drugs.

“We cannot brush this off. This is not an isolated report. This is the second one coming from an independent body,” said the Vice President, referring to the Amnesty International report claiming that police officers have received payments in exchange for killing suspected drug criminals.

“This second report, they are again trying to sweep it under the rug. I don’t think this is good for all of us,” she added.

Following the release of the Human Rights Watch report, Malacañang countered with a challenge for the group to release evidence to back up the latter’s claims in the report.

Reacting to warnings that he could be held responsible for crimes against humanity, Duterte declared that “when you kill criminals that is not a crime against humanity.”

Robredo also expressed alarm over an incident at the Cebu provincial jail on Tuesday when inmates were made to strip naked during a raid.

“We have a specific law, the anti-torture act, that bars anyone including government officials to subject inmates under cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” she said in Filipino.

“There are many ways to achieve their objectives of finding illegal items, drugs without subjecting the inmates to such degrading act,” she pointed out.

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