MANILA - Filipinos have long gained freedom from foreign colonizers but not from injustice and poverty, two opposition senators said Wednesday, as the country marked its 121st Independence Day.
"'Hindi ka malaya, mahaba lang ang tanikala.' Ito po ang kasabihan na tila naglalarawan sa sitwasyon ng bansa natin sa kasalukuyan—hindi tayo ganap na malaya," detained Sen. Leila de Lima said in a statement.
"Hindi na nga natin lubusang natatamasa, niyuyurakan pa ang ating karapatan ng mapaniil na pamahalaan," she added.
('You are not free, the chain is just long.' This seems to describe the current situation of our country- we are not completely free. We do not fully enjoy our rights and they are being trampled upon by an oppressive government.)
De Lima noted that some 28,000 have been killed under government's anti-narcotics drive, a figure that the administration has repeatedly said was bloated.
Per the official police count, the number of those killed for alleged violent resistance in police operations since the administration took power in July 2016 was more than 5,000 as of the end of January.
Meanwhile, De Lima also cited the influx of Chinese nationals illegally working in the country.
She called on the public to raise the alarm against rampant killings and influx of illegal Chinese workers.
"Samahan din natin ang ating mga kababayang patuloy na naninindigan, silang mga nasa gobyerno, alagad ng Simbahan o karaniwang mamamayan, para maituwid ang baluktot at mapanagot ang mga tiwali at abusado," he said.
(Let's join our compatriots who continue to stand up, those who are from the government, Church and ordinary citizens, to straighten the crooked and hold the corrupt and abusive accountable.)
Sen. Francis Pangilinan of the Liberal Party cited continuing threats to freedom.
"We continue to be faced with external and internal challenges that erode our people's hopes and threaten their freedom," Sen. Francis Pangilinan said in a separate statement.
"For how can we be independent when our people are hungry for food, jobs, and justice?" he added.
He urged the public to treat Independence Day as "a reminder that the ways of freedom are never easy."
"Each day, we are always called upon to take action and keep guard to fight for and protect our territory, decent employment, equitable opportunities, and right to truth," he said.