“In only three years of misguided and messy governance, this regime has destroyed our very soul as a nation.”
Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has deplored the Philippines’ immoral rejection of a United Nations (UN) resolution condemning and seeking an end to the longstanding human rights abuses of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.
De Lima said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should be asked if its vote against the UN resolution is the “true and genuine” position of the Philippine government or was solely the dictate of Mr. Duterte, who merely followed instructions from China.
“Despite the indubitable evidence of grave crimes, however, the Philippine government looked the other way to follow the position taken by the despotic regime in Beijing,” De Lima said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 610.
“I condemn this vote. It does not represent who we are as a people. We value everyone’s dignity. We stand for humanity. We strive for justice,” she added.
During its 42nd regular session in Switzerland last Sept. 26, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution supporting justice and accountability for Rohingya Muslims and other minorities who have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State to escape atrocities committed by state security forces.
Of the 46 member states that voted, only Philippines and China thumbed down the UNHRC resolution, with 37 countries voting in favor of it and seven others that abstained. This is the third time that the Duterte administration rejected a UN measure on the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
The resolution denounces “all violations and abuses of human rights in Myanmar, including against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities, and expressing deep concern at the reports of ongoing human rights violations.”
These include arbitrary arrests, torture, forced labor, socioeconomic exploitation, violence against women and children, violations of the rights to freedom of religion, expression, and assembly, and the forced displacement of Rohingya Muslims, among others.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, pointed out that the UNHRC resolution “could not come a moment too soon” because Rohingya Muslims have tremendously suffered from ethnic cleansing that the Myanmar military has been waging for two years now.
The former justice secretary noted that the ethnic cleansing “has forcibly driven around 740,000 people to Bangladesh and has kept some 500,000 more in appalling living conditions in the Rakhine State.”
Amid the mass atrocities, De Lima has urged her fellow Filipinos to collectively denounce and disown the Philippines’ inhumane rejection of the UNHRC resolution.
“This is an irrefutable proof that we are turning into a vassal state of China. It likewise signals an equally alarming trend towards the dehumanization of the current administration,” she said.
“In only three years of misguided and messy governance, this regime has destroyed our very soul as a nation. This has to stop. By all things that remain free, just and humane in the Filipino, this has to stop,” she added.
In May 2015, when she was justice secretary, De Lima put forth the idea of sending ships to rescue 3,000 Rohingya refugees from the sea and provide them shelters as a humanitarian measure to avert a humanitarian crisis in the region.
It may be recalled that De Lima has suspected that the real reason for the government’s previous “no” vote on a similar UNHRC resolution is not out of diplomacy, but of fear that the Philippines’ worsening human rights problems will further be put into the spotlight.