Senator Leila M. de Lima has commended the patriotism and steadfast commitment of volunteers, including non-partisan poll watchers, who offered their selfless service to ensure the orderly conduct of the recent midterm elections.

De Lima said the dedication of the volunteers who set aside their personal comfort to protect the votes of the Filipino people and ensure smooth conduct of elections should be recognized despite some unresolved issues hounding the polls.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa ating mga volunteers na naging katuwang natin sa pagprotekta at pagsasabuhay sa diwa ng ating demokrasya—silang hindi lamang bumoto, kundi nagbuhos din ng panahon at dedikasyon para gabayan ang ating mga kababayan sa mga karapat-dapat na maging pinuno ng ating bansa,” she said.

“After the elections, majority of the Filipino populace were drowned with reports about electoral victories, losses and other issues that they forgot to give credits to volunteers who sacrificed their time and energy in the name of public service. They deserve our deepest gratitude and recognition – now more than ever,” she added.

Thousands serve as members of electoral boards, poll watchers, and canvassers at the local level to ensure orderly and safe conduct of elections in all polling places last May 13.

Majority of Board of Elections Inspectors (BEI) members included over 500,000 public school teachers tasked to oversee polling places, verify voters, and handle election-related materials like ballots and vote counting machines on Election Day.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) also accredited three watch groups, notably, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), and the Citizens’ Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reform (C-CARE) based in Muslim Mindanao.

Despite the results of the recent elections, De Lima also said she sees hope for the future of the Philippines because more and more people are speaking out against injustices in an effort to bring back decency in government and dignity in the society.

“The challenge now for the Filipinos who are fighting on the side of truth is to not relent in their fight for truth, justice and democracy as they keep the fires within them burning,” said the former justice secretary.

“Hindi po natatapos sa halalan ang pakikipaglaban natin para sa katotohanan, katarungan, at demokrasya. Nanalo man ang mga kaalyado ni Duterte, pero nasa sambayanang Pilipino pa rin ang kapangyarihan sa ating bansa,” she added.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, earlier warned against what she described as “terrible and frightening” plans of the Duterte administration during its second half of its term of office.

She cited the Duterte administration’s sinister plans to push for Charter change in Congress, a bloodier war on drugs and its subsequence increase of cases of extrajudicial and summary killings, and the total capitulation of the country to China.

De Lima also added the prospects of an unmitigated and unchecked corruption and abuse of power in the Duterte administration, and more repression of the opposition, critics, and pro-democracy forces and human rights defenders.