By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday urged the Duterte government to reaffirm the country’s commitment to international cooperation, notably in upholding human rights and for peace and security, not only for the Filipinos, but also for other people from across the world.
De Lima made the call as the world commemorates United Nations Day, rallying the Filipino public to hold steadfast “to our universal dreams and aspirations.”
“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,” De Lima said.
With the Philippines among its 51 founding members, the senator noted that the UN has always offered its available mechanisms in addressing issues of serious international concern, particularly regarding violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.
The UN “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,” De Lima noted.
The detained senator 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.
“With authoritarian regimes re-emerging, inequality rising, and climate change worsening, we should hold steadfast to our universal dreams and aspirations. Let us reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation for peace and security, civil liberties and sustainable development,” she said.
“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 stressed.
De Lima is currently detained over allegations she is involved in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), which she has since vehemently denied, saying it was part of the Duterte administration’s attempt to stifle dissenters and critics.
“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 said.
It can be recalled that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has adopted an Iceland-led resolution last July which called for a comprehensive review of the human rights situation in the country, notably on the government’s bloody drug war.
In 2018, the UNHRC Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) also 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.