Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima was introduced as the newest member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) in recognition to her strong advocacy in promoting justice, human rights and democracy in the Philippines.
De Lima’s addition to the official roster of APHR came as she will mark her second year in unjust detention this coming Feb. 24. APHR is a regional group of duly-elected legislators coming from ruling and opposition parties in the ASEAN region.
She joins the ranks of other prominent parliamentarians, including APHR Chairperson Christopher Santiago of the Malaysian Parliament, Deputy Speaker Charles Chong of Singapore, Rohingya rights activist Shwe Maung of Myanmar, and Philippines’ lawmakers Reps. Teddy Baguilat, Tom Villarin and Walden Bello, to name a few.
“As your newest member, it is an honor and a privilege to be fighting alongside principled leaders who never waver to uphold political freedom, promote democracy and protect human rights,” she said.
“Rest assured that despite the relentless political persecution against me by a tyrannical regime, I remain committed in fulfilling the mandate given to me by our people and in working with you to promote lasting peace and progress throughout the region,” she added.
In September 2017, it may be recalled that a delegation of APHR was barred from visiting De Lima inside her detention quarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City despite complying with all requirements imposed by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“The authorities’ decision to deny us access to visit Senator De Lima at the very last minute only furthers the public perception that the Senator is a victim of political persecution by President Rodrigo Duterte,” Santiago was quoted as saying.
Despite being unable to visit her after few attempts, the leaders and members of APHR have continuously voiced their strong opposition against the unjust detention of De Lima as well as the incessant political persecution that she is facing.
“We urge the Philippine government to end all harassment and politically motivated criminal charges against human rights defenders, journalists, and members of the opposition who seek accountability for human rights violations in the context of the ‘war on drugs,'” the APHR said. “Sen. De Lima’s continued imprisonment undermines both democracy and the rule of law in the Philippines,” it added.