‘Shawl must go on’; women activists rally behind De Lima
A women’s forum with Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday paid tribute to detained Sen. Leila de Lima on International Women’s Day, saving her a seat in the sofa with a light blue shawl and a paper that said “The shawl must go on.”
The organizer, Pilipina, also prepared a 10-minute video with De Lima’s handwritten message to the audience that filled the auditorium at the Miriam College in Quezon City.
The video also showed the various stages of De Lima’s career as a public official and the different phases of her fight against her nemesis, President Duterte.
“Mr. Duterte really has a dark conscience. He will do everything against me just to take revenge, regardless if they are against the law,” De Lima said in Filipino in her message titled “Women Defend Democracy.”
Whenever the President’s face and video clips were shown, the mostly women audience booed and hurled invectives at him. An unidentified woman shouted, “Psycho!”
Robredo and Hontiveros had both already left when De Lima’s video was shown. They did not see the audience’s angry reaction to Mr. Duterte.
In a speech earlier at the forum, Robredo urged women to fight for their rights and not to be cowed by fear.
“Democracy without women is impossible,” she said, adding that she tried her best to work with the administration but there were those who insisted on politicking. Eventually, she pushed back against efforts to silence her through the electoral protest and fake news on social media.
“I promise you this: I will not be cowed. I will not surrender. I will not be silenced,” she said. “Democracy is rooted in the principle of giving voice to our fellowmen, especially the women who are now being muzzled.”
Hontiveros, meanwhile, said President Duterte himself had “encouraged and strengthened” the culture of sexism, misogyny and gender bias, “driving male chauvinism to an unparalleled extreme.”
Not only had the President “reduced women to body parts” and regarded catcalling as flattery, he also used “the might of the state to persecute one of the leading voices of dissent,” Hontiveros said, referring to De Lima.
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