“Mantakin ninyo: Sa panahon ng pandemya, ang inatupag ng rehimeng Duterte ay ang pagsikil sa malayang pamamahayag at pagpasa ng Terror Law na nagbibigay sa kanila ng lisensyang lalong mandahas at mang-abuso.”

That was how jailed opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima slammed the President Rodrigo Duterte for prioritizing measures that she says “curtails people’s rights and freedoms, terrorize the populace, and tighten their grip on power instead of addressing the needs of the Filipinos, especially during this time of pandemic.”

In her message read during an online alternative State of the Nation (SONA) Address led by the Movement Against the Anti-Terrorism Act (MATA) last July 21, De Lima lamented how the Duterte administration “disregards” Filipino’s needs over their political agendas.

“At ngayon naman, ipagpipilitan pa nila ang Cha-cha. Para ano? Para lalong ma-etsapuwera ang interes ng mga Pilipino?” De Lima asked.

De Lima, a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights, urged the public should not allow Duterte and his allies to continue “abusing their power by calling out and speaking against the sinister moves of the government.”

“Tandaan po natin ang kanilang mga pangalan. Silang mga nagpagamit. Silang mga manhid. Silang mga ganid. At kapag sinabi nating maniningil tayo, hindi lang tayo basta nagbabanta. Dahil nasa tuktok man sila ng kapangyarihan ngayon, hinding-hindi sila uubra sa nagkakaisa at nagpupuyos nang damdamin ng sambayanan,” she added.

De Lima noted how about 1,500 municipal mayors led by Duterte’s allies renewed their push to amend the charter while the  country is still grappling with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.

League of Municipality of the Philippines (LMP) president and Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson said the LMP mayors wanted “to institutionalize the so-called Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court in the Constitution and the lifting of restrictions on foreign investment in industries currently limited to Filipinos.”

However, it is not clear when the mayors passed the resolution and when they wanted the Constitution amended.

Under the Mandanas ruling, the Supreme Court said the source of the internal revenue allotments for local governments include all national taxes and not only those collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue

House committee on constitutional amendments chair Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the committee will convene after Duterte’s SONA on July 27 or within the first two weeks of Congress’ second regular session.  (Rommel F. Lopez)