MANILA - Amid reports of human rights violations under the current administration, Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday said most Filipinos seem to have forgotten lessons from martial law, a repressive regime that the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos declared 45 years ago.
"Nakakalungkot na tila hindi pa rin tayo natuto. Sa paligid natin, may kultura ng karahasan. Kahit bata ay biktima na ng karahasan," Robredo said in a gathering for victims of martial law and extrajudicial killings at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
The opposition leader's statement was in apparent reference to violent police raids under President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, where several teens have died.
Duterte has vowed justice for those slain and said he would not condone police abuses. The administration has also asserted it does not sanction executions of drug suspects.
"Lahat tayo may pananagutan na ipaalala sa sarili natin na hindi na tayo papayag na maulit ang madilim na nakaraan," said Robredo following a mass that gathered opposition figures, youth groups and members of the academe.
Robredo urged Filipinos to ponder on and decry what she described to be a culture of violence and destruction of institutions, as she called for unity amid the divisive times.
"Ginugunita natin ngayon ang kultura ng karahasan, ang unti-unting pagkawala ng karapatan at kalayaan, at pagkawasak sa mga institusyon," Robredo said.
"Iba-iba man ang ating pananaw sa pulitika, andito tayo lahat nagkakaisa sa pagmamahal sa bayan," she added.
Robredo was among opposition leaders who attended mass at the UP Parish of the Holy Sacrifice Thursday afternoon, among activities lined up on the National Day of Protest.
Also among 1,000 who joined the mass were former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, former Sen. Mar Roxas and minority lawmakers.
During the mass, participants offered flowers and candles as they prayed for victims of extrajudicial killings.