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A matrix of evil lies

"Where can ordinary citizens turn to for protection?"


In 1999, “The Matrix”, starring Keanu Reeves, was shown in movie theaters around the world. It is a science fiction action film depicting a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality called the Matrix created by thought-capable machines (artificial beings) to distract humans while using their bodies as an energy source. When computer programmer Thomas Anderson, under the hacker alias “Neo”, uncovers this truth, he “is drawn into a rebellion against the machines” along with other people who have been freed from the Matrix.

The so-called Duterte’s ouster plot matrix, linking journalists and human rights lawyers to a destabilization plot, is also clearly a product of someone’s wild imagination. This so-called matrix of destabilization, allegedly sourced from President Duterte himself, must be dismissed for what it is—in evil matrix of lies, totally devoid of truth, absolute garbage, of no probative or socially relevant value.

It came as no surprise though that those included in the destabilization matrix have one  thing in common—all are critical of the government on human rights, corruption, and/or China policy. In the case of the media, they are journalists of Rappler, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and Vera Files who are just doing their jobs as press people, seeking and exposing the truth. And definitely, that is also true of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) who are only being true to their duty as officers of the court and their mission as lawyers for human rights and for the poor. In similar matrices proposed by the President or his allies (his son Polong for example) in the past, opposition politicians and even fast food outlets were included.

I know personally Ellen Tordesillas and many of the personalities mentioned in the matrix who are from media and human rights organizations. I have worked with the NUPL closely on many shared causes and have taught many of their young lawyers. They are the best, most committed lawyers that are practicing in this country. I vouch for their integrity, the devotion to their professions, and to their patriotism. I unconditionally stand with them.

In other times, this destabilization matrix will be laughable, but given the poisonous environment and climate of repression and impunity during this period, any and all accusations against the government sends a chilling effect not only to those directly implicated but to all journalists, human rights lawyers and activists. It unduly poses a threat to and puts at risk the lives, limbs and liberty of those directly implicated. In the context of the horrible epidemic of red-tagging which has had lethal consequences, this matrix is evil at its core and must be condemned in the strongest way possible.

Not taking this threat lightly, NUPL filed on April 10, 2019 a petition for writ of amparo and habeas data before the Supreme Court to “seek the protection of the Petitioners whose rights to life, liberty and security have been violated and continue to be violated through persistent threats and harassment, and red tagging clearly intended to vilify and intimidate them and prevent them from pursuing their profession as members of the bar and from practicing their advocacy as peoples’ lawyers serving the poor and the marginalized.” It likewise seeks to compel Respondents (President Duterte, Gen. (ret.) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. as national security adviser, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Delfin Lorenzana, as the Secretary of National Defense, and other generals), under the Writ of Habeas Data, “to produce and, if necessary, to update and rectify, or to suppress and destroy, data, information, and files in their possession, under their control, or contained in their data base which relate to or concern Petitioners.”

As narrated by NUPL, many among their ranks have been brutalized, harassed and victimized by state forces. The petition gives as examples the cases of petitioner Atty. Catherine Salucon who was harassed and placed under heavy surveillance; Atty. Rodolfo R. Felicio who was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men; Atty. Ron Ely L. Espinosa, the second vice president for Luzon of NUPL and a member of its chapter in the Bicol Region, who survived two attempts on his life; NUPL-Negros Secretary General Atty. Benjamin T. Ramos who was killed in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental a few days after he joined an inquiry into the Sagay massacre; and, a few other cases of killings and harassment.

Indeed, many NUPL members have been tagged as members of the CPP-NPA-NDF with one of the respondents, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. publicly accusing NUPL, together with other organizations like its clients Karapatan and others as having links with the CPP and the NPA. As noted in the petition, “The attacks against the NUPL and its lawyers by state agents are intensifying with the escalation of attacks against the legal profession. The present Duterte administration has shown open disdain for human rights activists and lawyers.”

Although, Duterte’s evil matrix came out only after the NUPL petition was filed, NUPL has correctly manifested to the Supreme Court that this matrix is just another action of government that endangers them.

It is no surprise that the Philippines is ranked one of the most unsafe and extremely dangerous countries not only for journalists, human rights activists and even environmental activists. If the government, which has all the resources of the state at its disposal, is promoting violence and human rights violations against the press and human rights defenders—unfortunately, Duterte’s matrix does that as we have seen in calls to attack Ellen, Maria Ressa of Rappler, and others—where can ordinary citizens turn to for protection?

In the movie the Matrix, Neo, a computer hacker, rescues human beings captured by a race of machines and which imprisons their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. But in this country where Duterte’s Matrix of lies has been released, who can be the Neo who will free us from the imprisonment of falsity and fear?

I dare say that the Neo is the people. It’s us. We must reject this matrix of evil lies. We do that now by standing by the journalists that the Duterte government have singled out for attack. We do that by being in solidarity with our brave compañeras and compañeros. We do that by voting on May 13 as senators for Chel Diokno, Neri Colmenares, Florin Hilbay, Erin Tañada, and others who can be relied on to defend our human rights.

Facebook Page: Professor Tony La Viña Twitter: tonylavs

Topics: Tony La Viña , A matrix of evil lies , ouster plot matrix , President Rodrigo Duterte , Rappler , Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism , Vera Files
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