De Lima wary of ‘human rights’ omission in proposed federal constitution

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed suspicion over the apparent omission of the phrase “human rights” in the proposed Federal Constitution by the Consultative Committee (Con-com) tasked to propose changes to the 1987 Constitution.

De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, is concerned if the Con-Com’s removal of the said phrase was done deliberately.

“I have a question for the Consultative Committee. How come the phrase ‘human rights’ is no longer found in the Article on Declaration of Principles and State Policies?” she asked in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 342.

“Was the deletion of “human rights” deliberate? If so, why?” she added.

In questioning the Con-Com’s action, De Lima cited the difference between Article II Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution and Section 13 Article II in the proposed Federal Constitution.

According to her, Article II Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution provided that “the state values the dignity of every human and guarantees full respect for human rights.”

Disturbingly, its equivalent provision in the proposed Federal Constitution, Section 13 Article II provided that “The Federal Republic values the dignity of every person and guarantees full respect for the person and the right of all citizens to participate in all government processes.”

The Con-Com submitted its draft of the proposed federal constitution to Mr. Duterte last July 9, and Congress will begin debating the proposed constitution this month.

Note that De Lima has always been firm on her stance that the Duterte administration’s push to introduce amendments or revisions in the Constitution will do the Filipino people no good.

For her, it is difficult to entrust the revision of the Constitution to an administration “that has shown susceptibility to abuse power, to allow impunity to prosper, and to repeatedly lie to the public.” “Like someone who, after being confronted by the demands of real, hard work – or what we call public service – suddenly gives up and blames the Constitution for their failures. “At worst, all those are just pretext. The proponents really want something else, and they’re trying hard to make sure we can’t see through their pretense,” she said in a previous statement.

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