De Lima commends young human rights defenders


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has commended the young Filipino human rights defenders for conveying their steadfast commitment and dedication to advance the cause of human rights and democracy in the Philippines.

De Lima, a human rights and social justice champion, praised the youth for standing united behind the selfless cause in fighting against the growing violations of human rights in the country under Mr. Duterte’s resolve to entrench himself in power.

“Sa panahon kung kailan tinatakot ang ating mamamayan ng mga karumal-dumal na patayan at karahasan, at nilalason ang kanilang kaisipan ng mga kasinungalingan, nagpapasalamat ako sa mga kabataan na handang ipaglaban ang karapatang pantao at ang ating demokrasya,” she said.

“Ang hamon at panawagan ko sa bawat isa: Hindi sapat na maging mulat lang tayo sa katotohanan; kailangan din nating imulat ang ating kapwa sa kung ano ang totoo, at makilahok sa pagtataas ng antas ng pampublikong diskurso upang maisulong ang mga hangarin natin para sa bayan,” she added.

Last Feb. 16, the Koalisyon ng Kabataan para sa Karapatang Pantao (KKKP) signed a manifesto during the “Young Human Rights Defenders Summit” held at the UP College of Mass Communication Auditorium, UP Diliman, in Quezon City.

In the manifesto, the KKKP called on the Philippine government “to respect, uphold, and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedom” guaranteed and protected not just by the 1987 Philippine Constitution but also of the national laws, and the international human rights instruments.

“We, young human rights defenders in the Philippines, declare our unwavering commitment and dedication to advancing the cause of human rights and democracy in the country,” it read.

Aside from condemning the killings in the country, the youth denounced the government’s worsening attacks against human rights defenders and critics like Senator De Lima, who has been illegally detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City since February 24, 2017.

The lady Senator from Bicol said the Filipinos, regardless of age, should be inspired by the youth’s laudable effort to effect change and build a more just and humane society for the entire citizenry.

“Their initiative is a stark reminder for all of us mere mortals who wish to defy the madman in Malacanang that commitment to human rights knows no age, gender, and social status,” she said.

“May their voice wake each of us to the truth and allow us to see through the deception of this administration” she added.

Organized by the Office of Senator De Lima along with Mambabatas Para sa Karapatang Pantao (Makatao) and Youth for Human Rights and Democracy, the Summit was attended by different youth organizations, such as Kabataan Partylist, Sanlakas Youth, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny and Akbayan Youth, among others.

Also present in the event were lawyer Manuel “Chel” Diokno, women’s rights advocate Samira Gutoc Tomawis, Rep. Sarah Elago, and Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III who read De Lima’s message of solidarity. Human Rights lawyer Neri Colmenares, on his part, sent a video message to show his support in the youth’s fight for human rights.

De Lima, considered as a prisoner 0f conscience, said she wishes that the youth would never get tired from coming together and working in unison to fight any forms of abuses, discrimination and inequality perpetrated by the Duterte regime. In February 2018, De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1699, or the Human Rights Defenders Bill, which underscores the government’s obligation in ensuring protection of human rights defenders against intimidation and unlawful intrusion by any public or private individual.

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