MANILA - Erlinda Cadapan, whose daughter Sherlyn disappeared under the rule of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, could not help but weep over the now Pampanga lawmaker's rise as House Speaker.
Arroyo, 71, was sworn in as the country's first female House Speaker late on Monday after receiving the support of 184 lawmakers, ousting Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.
“Kahapon pa ako lumuluha nang maisip ko anong klaseng gobyerno mayroon ang Pilipinas,” Erlinda said in tears on Tuesday.
(I have been crying since yesterday when I realized what kind of government the Philippines has.)
Cadapan's daughter was a student-activist at the University of the Philippines who disappeared in June 2006 with schoolmate Karen Empeño.
The two were allegedly tortured to death by the men of retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who allegedly enjoyed Arroyo's protection.
The case was among several alleged rights abuses recorded under the Arroyo administration. According to human rights group Karapatan, there were 1,206 extrajudicial killings and 204 enforced disappearances under her presidency.
Among those allegedly abducted by military agents under Arroyo was Jonas Burgos, a farmer-activist.
His brother JL said he was dismayed with the Duterte administration for its supposed alliance with Arroyo and the Marcoses, the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos accused of plundering billions.
“Ang rehimeng ito ang pinakamasahol sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. Imagine isang magnanakaw ng boto, magnanakaw ng kaban ng bayan, mamamatay-tao, mandurukot, nagsama-sama,” Burgos said in a press conference.
(This regime is the worst in Philippine history. Imagine, a thief of votes, a thief of public funds, a killer came together.)
Arroyo was accused of rigging elections and her government was plagued by allegations of graft involving Chinese firms, which she denies.
The Supreme Court in 2016 dismissed plunder charges against her and ordered her release from hospital detention, throughout which she still held her seat in Congress.
“Ang korapsyon sa panahon ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo naging talamak, wala ho itong hiya. At sa panahon na naging pangulo siya nang halos isang dekada, puspos ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao,” said Karapatan Secretary-General Roneo Clamor.
(Corruption under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was rampant, shameless. In nearly a decade that she was president, human rights abuses flourished.)
Evangeline Hernandez, chairperson of rights group Hustisya, said it is time for the public to rethink its support for the administration.
“Kung hindi tayo nakakakita ng maayos na pamahalaan, kaya natin silang palitan,” she said.
(If we do not see good governance, we can replace those in power.)
-- Report from Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News