By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday called on the Senate leadership to immediately act on a pending measure upholding human rights bills that seek to reduce social, economic and political inequalities in the country.
De Lima said such moves can be the Senate’s contribution to the global celebration of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) throughout 2018.
“I urge my colleagues to take a serious look at these pending measures as our humble contribution to the global campaign of raising awareness about the importance of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago,” she said.
“The clamor for a human rights regime resonates not only in the Philippines but also elsewhere around the world where the principles of human rights are undermined, and the defenders of human rights are harassed and incarcerated,” she added.
De Lima directed her call in particular, to Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, so that the country’s human rights agenda would move forward.
She pointed out Gordon can start by scheduling a hearing on the legislative measures long pending before his committee.
“I call on Senator Gordon to take this special opportunity of pushing for important measures aimed at advancing the cause of human rights in the country. I’m confident he will heed growing clamor to push forward these pending bills,” she said.
The Philippines, as a signatory to the UDHR, ratified eight core human rights treaties and six optional protocols, along with many other key human rights and humanitarian conventions and treaties.
The detained senator noted that as founding member of the United Nations Human Rights Council since 2006, the Philippines has been sitting as member for consecutive terms from 2007 to 2010 and from 2011 to 2014, and is now bidding for another term for 2019 to 2021.
A former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair, de Lima pointed out that the country should continue to assert its leadership in human rights fronts not only internationally but also domestically.
“We should heed the incessant call from the international community of human rights advocates that we as a member-state should lead by example and uphold the highest standards in promoting and protecting human rights,” she said.
“I have filed several bills and resolutions that will help ensure equal access to justice for all at the same time strengthen the rule of law,” she added.
“I also hope that he will finally start public hearings on these legislative measures I filed,” she stressed.