Amid the worsening human rights crisis in the Philippines, Senator Leila M. de Lima today urged the government to reaffirm the country’s commitment to international cooperation, notably in upholding human rights and securing a better future not only for the Filipinos but also for other people from across the world.
In her message during the United Nations (UN) Day today, De Lima also said the Filipino public should hold steadfast “to our universal dreams and aspirations” as authoritarian regimes like that of the Duterte administration are re-emerging.
“Let us reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation for peace and security, civil liberties and sustainable development. In a world of challenges and crises, let us never lose hope for a better future as we strengthen our solidarity for the progress and dignity of all,” she said.
Celebrated every Oct. 24 since 1948, the United Nations Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter with the world organization’s pledge to achieve lasting world peace.
With the Philippines among its 51 founding members, De Lima said the UN has always offered its available mechanisms in addressing issues of serious international concern, such as violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.
“It also consistently provided our country with humanitarian assistance, especially in times of disasters and conflicts, such as in typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and the Marawi siege,” she noted.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said she is grateful to the UN for showing its unwavering concern for the country’s human rights situation by demanding for accountability for the extrajudicial killings and other gross human rights violations here.
“Our nation is currently plunged into the worst human rights calamity, with thousands of government-sponsored summary killings under the guise of a war on drugs, and increased threats and harassment against political dissenters, human rights defenders and the free press,” she said.
“In the midst of all this, the United Nations has never faltered in calling for accountability and an independent probe of the Duterte government,” she added.
Last July, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has adopted an Iceland-led resolution calling for a comprehensive review of the human rights situation in the country, notably on the government’s bloody drug war policy.
The lady Senator from Bicol, who remains detained on politically-motivated trumped-up illegal drug trading charges, also thanked the UN for its continued concern for her plight as the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime.
“I am unjustly detained for 973 days now for speaking truth to power in defense of human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. Indeed, the world is watching to safeguard against injustice and other breaches to our shared pledge of upholding human rights as a community of nations,” she said.
In 2018, the UNHRC Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) urged the Philippine government to immediately free De Lima and allow her to fulfill her duties as duly-elected Senator of the Republic and as a human rights defender.
Last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres endorsed the UNHRC Report to reiterate his and the entire UN body’s concern for De Lima’s continued political persecution and the worsening human rights situation in the country.
In his report, Guterres listed “acts of intimidation” against human rights defenders who have cooperated with the UN and its representatives, including the unjust detention of De Lima. The UN officials’ efforts have consistently been rejected by the Duterte administration as foreign interference in Philippine government’s domestic affairs. (30)