De Lima, 5 other PH women cited in fight for justice

De Lima, 5 other PH women cited in fight for justice

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:46 AM May 05, 2024

De Lima, 5 other PH women cited in fight for justice

STORIES THAT MUST BE TOLD Published by San Anselmo Press (SAP), the book “Six Filipino Women for Justice” was launched at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center in Makati City on April 26. From left: authors Maria Olivia Tripon and Rafael Ongpin, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, book editor Asuncion David Maramba, former Sen. Leila de Lima, activist-educator Sister Mary John Mananzan, authors Neni Sta. Romana Cruz, Dulce Festin-Baybay, Rosario Garcellano (also former Inquirer Opinion editor), and SAP executive publisher Marvin Aceron. Former Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Rappler CEO and Nobel laureate Maria Ressa delivered messages via video during the program. Right photo shows the book cover. —Photos from San Anselmo Press

In times when Filipino men fall silent and frozen in fear amid social injustice and repression, not a few Filipino women stand fearless to take up the cudgels for the nation. Six of them were given recognition for their dogged determination to fight for what is right in a recently launched anthology.

The book, “Six Filipino Women for Justice,” published by San Anselmo Press, tells us of the lives and courageous struggles of former Sen. Leila de Lima, former Vice President Leni Robredo, Rappler CEO and Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, and activist nun and educator Sister Mary John Mananzan.


The book was planned after De Lima, one of the fiercest and most vocal critics of then President Rodrigo Duterte, was incarcerated in February 2017 on drug trafficking allegations.


In a letter to De Lima a year after her arrest, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas called her “the biggest symbol of what is wrong in our country.”

After more than six years in a Camp Crame cell, she was acquitted in two of the three cases against her that she said were all based on fabricated evidence. She was finally allowed to post bail in November last year.

‘But I was not alone’

“Mr. Duterte was also unable to kill the messenger literally and figuratively,” De Lima said at the book launch in Makati City on April 26.

“I survived his persecution. I survived his men. I survived his jail. That in itself is a testament to the strength of the feminine spirit moved by conviction. But I was not alone,” she said. “I would have not made it without those of you who fought and struggled with me.”

She said fighting “the destruction of my person by Duterte and his men, and my imprisonment” was the fight of all Filipinos who “fought and attempted to fight” during his six-year regime when many were deceived and stunned into silence.

The Saguisag exception

The former senator said the book was not just about her and the others, but “us women who fought at a time when most of the men fell silent.”


But she made an exception of the late Sen. Rene Saguisag, who passed on at 84 two days before the book launching.

The ailing and aging Saguisag regularly attended her hearings at the Muntinlupa regional trial court, offering moral and legal support. He helped form the Free Leila Committee and was one of the lawyers who represented her in a petition to the Supreme Court to nullify her arrest.

De Lima said Saguisag represented other men “who dared to join us in challenging the vicious resurgence of patriarchal violence in its dying epoch in our country.”

Arc of her journey

Retired Inquirer Opinion editor Rosario Garcellano, who wrote De Lima’s profile, was not allowed to have a face-to-face interview with her at Camp Crame. But Garcellano found the words to write the former senator’s story from the people who had stuck with one of the country’s most famous detainees through her ordeal.

“That she continues to fight, is quite unbowed, is not in itself remarkable but in fact predictable—a logical result of the arc of her upbringing and her journey to self-awareness that brought her to what would become her life’s work: the law, human rights, justice,” Garcellano said of De Lima during the book launch when the two women met in person for the first time.

De Lima continues her fight for justice, especially for those who suffered and were killed during Duterte’s war on drugs. She remains visible in the public eye and has been giving interviews and speaking for the Liberal Party.

The unforgiven

She had already forgiven those who wronged her, but she has yet to forgive Duterte, her “chief oppressor,” she said.

What exacerbated her pain of being maliciously accused of drug trading was that outside the court, Duterte and his men painted her as a “woman of loose morals” to cast doubt on her innocence, especially among the public who did not know her.

“The misogyny and male chauvinist hubris of the Duterte regime was a war against women. That is why it had to be fought mainly by women,” she said. “And we did not disappoint. We fought like hell. And because we fought like hell, we are now standing here watching Duterte and his dying breed of chauvinists as their world gets smaller.”

“A large part of that is because of us who never stopped and who never gave up fighting for ourselves, for our freedoms, and for our people. Women fighting for women. Women fighting for all Filipinos. Women fighting for the people,” she added.

De Lima, 5 other PH women cited in fight for justice

Record of resistance

Book editor Asuncion David Maramba said its publication had to be postponed “because of a President’s penchant for shooting the messenger, but probably to his chagrin, unable to kill the message.”

In her prefatory essay in the book, Maramba said the six women “shared a sterling record of resistance to excesses and inadequacies of national leadership.”

Three of them—De Lima, Robredo and Ressa—have been targets of injustice, while the other three—Hontiveros, Carpio-Morales and Mananzan—have been defenders and fighters for justice.

“Their stories are not just narratives of personal triumphs, but are also powerful catalysts for change and inspiration, encouraging each of us to reflect on our own roles in fostering justice and equality in Philippine society,” said San Anselmo executive publisher Marvin Aceron.

No dearth of heroes

According to Maramba, their stories must be told “now” to serve as a reminder that the country is not short of heroes worth looking up to, despite the presence of “genetic corruptors and corruptibles” in the government.

The following are the authors of the profiles: Garcellano for De Lima; Ed Garcia for Robredo; Dulce Festin-Baybay for Ressa; Rafael Ongpin for Hontiveros; Maria Olivia Tripon for Carpio-Morales; and Neni Sta. Romana Cruz for Mananzan. Veteran journalist Vergel Santos wrote a closing essay.

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“Six Filipino Women for Justice” is the fourth and last of a series of anthologies on heroes, heroines and heroic personages after “Six Modern Filipino Heroes” (1993), “Six Young Filipino Martyrs” (1996) and “Seven in the Eye of History” (2000).

A copy of the book can be ordered from San Anselmo Publications Inc. through its Facebook page INQ Book editor Asuncion David Maramba said its publication had to be postponed ‘because of a President’s penchant for shooting the messenger, but probably to his chagrin, unable to kill the message’

TAGS: De Lima, Women

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