President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. must reverse the "undemocratic moves" of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, and restore checks and balances in the country, said detained former Senator Leila de Lima.
"For Marcos Jr. to repair the institutions, he must speak out against efforts to stifle dissent. He should call off the attack dogs against dissenters and reverse the undemocratic moves of his populist predecessor," said de Lima in an interview with the United States-based media outfit National Public Radio.
"He should publicly show that he listens to critics and earnestly defends his decisions without the foul political noise of cheap politicians," she added, noting that Marcos must also allow the political opposition to engage in meaningful debates and give media companies the chance to rectify any shortcomings, rather than silencing them dismissively.
The former Senator was asked for her take on whether democratic institutions that unraveled during the Duterte administration could be restored in the current government.
De Lima also said that if the Marcos administration is serious about restoring the people’s confidence in the government’s ability to protect human rights, the Philippines must rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC) and support the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill.
However, Marcos has already made his stance clear during a news conference in August. "The Philippines has no intention of rejoining the ICC."
When asked whether she has hope for the future of democracy in the country, Leila said that as long as the people are empowered to challenge the status quo and hold government institutions accountable, there will always be hope.
De Lima added, "In my more than five years of detention, I remain in awe of the power and depth of collective struggle. There is still so much hope among people who, despite their personal struggles, are still able to fight for others."
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.