Senators Leila M. de Lima, Risa Hontiveros and Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon have filed a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to join the international community in commemorating the 2020 Human Rights Day.
In filing Senate Resolution (SR) No. 592 last Dec. 9, a day ahead of the international event, they said that the celebration of Human Rights Day has become more necessary now that human rights problems in the country “have become more acute” under an authoritarian leader.
“The Senate of the Philippines joins the international community in commemorating the momentous day of nations coming together to celebrate human rights, and in faithfully staying true to its commitment to guarantee full respect for human rights at all times, especially in this time of global pandemic where people’s rights have been sidelined as the world grappled to survive one of the worst health crises in modern human history,” they said.
With the theme “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights,” they said that this year’s Human Rights Day “relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a new avenue for human rights violations. As countries grant emergency powers to their leader to address the pandemic, autocrats took advantage of the circumstance to abuse their people’s trust,” the Senators said.
“[This year’s Human Rights Day theme] punctuates our country’s fight against COVID-19, and the State’s constitutional duty to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights as part and parcel of its mandate to uphold the welfare of the people even amidst a global pandemic,” they added.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) through Resolution 217 on Dec. 10, 1948. The General assembly proclaimed it as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”
More than seventy years since the adoption of the UDHR, the Senators maintained that the celebration of Human Rights Day is as important now as it is then to serve as a constant reminder that human rights are always sacred and precious, and should never be regarded as less important than issues on development or criminality.
“The disregard and contempt for human rights that resulted in unspeakable acts against our fellow human beings and outraged the conscience of mankind should not be allowed to persist – for they have no place in a civilized world, not 72 years ago when the UDHR was adopted, not today, not ever,” they said.
In the Philippines, they noted that assaults against human rights and human life are continuing, citing the 2020 Annual Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights here detailing the widespread human rights violations and impunity in the country.
The said report noted that “[w]hile important human rights gains have been made, and challenges remain, an overarching focus on national security, countering terrorism and illegal drugs has resulted in numerous systematic human rights violations, including killings and arbitrary detention, persistent impunity and the vilification of dissent.” (30)