Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has thanked her colleagues in Congress for supporting and reiterating calls by the United Nations Human Rights Council – Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNHRC-WGAD) to release her from unjust detention.
In a brief message she sent through her staff, De Lima relayed her heartfelt thanks for the separate resolutions filed by the Senate minority bloc and six members of the House of Representatives before Congress took its recess for the midterm elections.
“Having all of you as friends and allies, and fellow fighters for truth, justice and democracy, makes my own personal struggles a lot bearable and my resolve to carry on a lot stronger,” she said in her handwritten note dated Feb. 11.
Last Feb. 8, the members of the Senate minority bloc have filed Senate Resolution No. 1019 urging the Philippine government to heed the findings and recommendations of the UNHRC-WGAD about the situation of their colleagues, Sen. De Lima.
The Senate minority bloc is composed of Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, Senators Francis N. Pangilinan, Antonio F. Trillanes, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Risa Hontiveros.
A similar resolution, logged as House Bill 2506, has also been filed at the House calling on appropriate government agencies to comply with the recommendations contained in the Opinion transmitted by the UN panel to the Philippine government.
It was signed by Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (Lone District, Dinagat Islands), Rep. Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay), Rep. Kit Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), Rep. Edgar Erice (2nd District, Caloocan City), Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. (3rd District, Camarines Sur), and Rep. Tom Villarin (Akbayan Party-List).
The UN working panel considered that De Lima has been targeted and subjected to attacks on account of her personal conviction and statements regarding extrajudicial killings, and discriminatory language due to her gender, and concludes that violations of her rights to a fair trial are of such gravity as to render her deprivation of liberty arbitrary.
The Panel’s 13-page Opinion was adopted during its 82nd session last Aug. 24 and was only made public last Nov. 30.
It recommended to the Philippine government to take necessary steps to remedy De Lima’s situation and conform it with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
It has also asked the Philippine government to immediately release De Lima from unjust detention and accord her an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, including her reinstatement in the positions from which she was ousted.
The UN working panel also asked the government to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding De Lima’s arbitrary deprivation of liberty and take appropriate measures against those responsible for violating her right. It has also referred De Lima’s case to three UN special rapporteurs to investigate the violations committed against her after finding sufficient grounds that violate her rights as a duly-elected senator and a human rights defender.