De Lima shares hopes for New Year, recalls lessons learned in 2019


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With the international trend putting pressure in defense of human rights and democracy in different parts of the world, such as the Philippines, Senator Leila M. de Lima is hoping that Year 2020 would encourage the Filipino public, including government officials, into becoming more human rights-centered.

De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said she hopes that more and more individuals would resist the reigning culture of violence and impunity under the Duterte administration with the start of a new year.

“Given the international trend to increase pressure in defending human rights and democracy, I hope to see a more human rights-conscious and human rights-sensitive Philippine society and a more human rights-compliant Philippine officialdom in 2020. Human rights are what makes us human,” she said.

De Lima cited the international trend, such as the unanimous approval by the US Foreign Relations Committee of Senate Resolution (SR) No. 142 calling for, among others, the imposition of the Global Magnitsky sanctions and the passing of Magnitsky-like measures in Europe, Canada, and Australia against rogue regimes.

Note that the Magnitsky Act, enacted by the Obama administration, has become a powerful tool for enforcing accountability for human rights abuses perpetrated by repressive regimes and has even inspired other jurisdictions to consider adopting similar sanctions for combating impunity.

“There are also the anticipated start of the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation on Mr. Duterte and his ilk by early next year, and the recent passage and signing into law of the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOPs) Bill with its provision banning entry to those responsible for my persecution,” she noted.

While she faced several challenges in 2019, including the continued vilification campaign and resurgence of fake news against her by Mr. Duterte and his allies, De Lima said she remains thankful that her struggles left her with valuable learning.

“One remarkable lesson is — the global forces of Good and Light will give you succor and will stand by you if you consistently fight, and accept no compromises, for the values that matter — justice, human rights and rule of law. With that, fighting evil in the local domain becomes less tough,” said the Senator.

As a prisoner of conscience who is detained on trumped-up drug charges, De Lima said she is “elated and grateful” for the outpouring of support and growing clamor for her release from many individuals and organizations here and abroad in 2019.

“This is best exemplified by the hundreds of signatories, here and abroad, of the statement of Indignation released and published on Nov. 20, and the recent developments in the US Congress re: the imposition of visa ban and other GloMag sanctions, such as freezing of assets, on my oppressors,” she shared.

It may be recalled that on her 1,000th day in unjust detention last Nov. 20, over 480 leaders, activists and groups worldwide assailed De Lima’s continued detention by coming out a collective statement of indignation over her wrongful imprisonment. (30)

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