De Lima: Heed mounting concern over human rights situation in PH


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the government to heed the mounting calls from the local and international communities to address the worsening human rights crisis in the country, particularly the unabated killings in its war on drugs.

De Lima reiterated her call after the Canadian chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) recently joined the growing number of groups pressing the Philippine government to respect human rights.

“For the past years, several local and international groups and treaty-based committees have lent their voices in defense of human rights by expressing their serious concern and calling for investigation into the state-sponsored abuses in the country,” she said.

“The present government could no longer play deaf to these continuing concerns about what is happening in the Philippines, and how this administration continues to disregard the very notion of human rights while undermining the rights of human rights defenders,” she added.

Last May 11 and 12, the ICHRP-Canada reportedly led a workshop to discuss the human rights situation in the Philippines attended by more than a hundred community leaders from cities across Canada at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) headquarters in Ottawa.

As the ICHRP-Canada members described the human rights situation in the Philippines as “troubled times,” they committed to exert more effective pressure on both the Canadian and Philippine governments to respect human rights in the Philippines.

De Lima, also a known human rights defender here and abroad, said she remains grateful that more and more organizations are now committing their help to upholding human rights in the Philippines and calling on the citizenry do the same.

“One thing is sure, we cannot remain silent when it comes to the worsening human rights situation in any parts of the world, much less in the Philippines, where the president himself loves to take credit for the deaths of his own people,” she said.

“I thank the ICHRP-Canada and other organizations for boldly standing up for human rights and the rule of law while other public officials in the country choose to remain on the safe side and not dare lay a finger on the issue,” she added.

Last June 7, some 11 UN rights experts asked the UN Human Rights Council to start an independent probe to look into the “staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings” in the Philippines’ war on drugs as well as killings of human rights defenders.”

Last March 13, the US State Department noted “numerous reports that government security agencies and their informal allies committed arbitrary or unlawful killings in connection with the government-directed campaign against illegal drugs.”

Since Duterte carried out his so-called war on drugs in July 2016, about 28,176 individuals were killed – 5,176 of whom are considered “drug personalities” while 23,000 are victims under the category of “homicide cases under investigation” (HCUIs).

In December 2018, UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst issued an assessment report highlighting the “stigmatization, defamation, judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest, and criminalization of defenders” as a key area of concern in the Philippines. De Lima vowed to refile the Senate’s version of the House-approved measure seeking to provide protection to human rights defenders, noting how Senate Bill No. 1699 she filed in the 17th Congress has been gathering dust at the committee level since 2018.

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