De Lima welcomes US bill restricting defense exports to and supporting human rights in PHL

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Senator Leila M. de Lima today welcomed a proposed legislation in the US Senate seeking to restrict exports of certain defense articles to the Philippines and to extend support to Filipino human rights defenders and help victims of human rights violations.

De Lima, a known human rights activist, said the US Senate’s proposed measure will subject to international scrutiny the Philippine government’s drug policy which has led in the deaths of thousands of suspected drug offenders, including innocent civilians.

“I support the bipartisan efforts in the US Senate to introduce such important piece of legislation to hold our law enforcement authorities accountable to the thousands of human rights violations committed under the all-out war on drugs,” she said.

“Every day, our people are living in fear that they or someone close to them might fall victim to extrajudicial killings under legitimate operations on the war on drugs, and this legislation can hopefully put an end to this national nightmare,” she added.

US Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) filed “The Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotic Acts of 2017” that would restrict the exportation of certain defense articles by the US to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The bipartisan measure also seeks to authorize a US$50-million funding for the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development to promote a public health approach to substance abuse.

The funding also seeks to extend support to Filipino human rights defenders, help victims of human rights violations, respond to human rights emergencies, and promote and encourage the rule of law through support for non-government organizations.

Under its Section 2, Para. 6, the measure also cited De Lima’s vocal opposition to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs which led to her illegal arrest and detention over trumped-up charge of illegal drug trade.

The former justice secretary commended Cardin and Rubio for their initiative in ensuring that adequate safeguards are set in place to stop police excesses and prevent recurrent human rights abuses from being committed by law enforcement agencies.

“This is a vital step forward in ensuring that the rule of law and respect to human rights prevail in modern democracies, such as the Philippines. We cannot allow the state to oppress its critics and from using arms to curtail our fundamental rights,” she said.

“Under our modern democracy, it is important and necessary that governments around the world impose strict measures against arms and weapons from falling in the hands of unscrupulous individuals, especially among rogue law officers,” she added.

Once passed into law, the US Senate proposed legislative measure would require the US Secretary of State to submit a report to the US Congress on human rights cases related to the PNP and how foreign assistance to the PNP is used.

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