By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Leila de Lima on Monday thanked the United States Congress for pushing for the signing into law the bill that would ban the travel to the US of those responsible for and party to her persecution and imprisonment in the Philippines.
De Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters over drug charges, said the latest development signals the fact that “impunity cannot last” and that justice will prevail.
“My gratitude to the US Congress is overwhelming for including in the final and approved Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2020, now signed into law by the US President, the provision restricting the travel to the US of those responsible for and party to my persecution and imprisonment, or the Durbin/Leahy amendment,” De Lima said in a statement.
“Human rights is fighting back! Accountability is coming! A most wonderful Christmas blessing! Thank you US! Thank you, dear God!” the senator further said.
“This latest development signals the fact that impunity cannot last and that one way or another, justice will catch up with those who choose to do injustice to others. This also signifies a solid recognition by the US government that I am a clear victim of political persecution,” she said.
Complementary to this law is proposed US Senate Foreign Relations Resolution 142 which, among others, calls on the US President to implement the sanctions provided in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act also on members of the Duterte administration and members of state security forces and other Philippine government officials responsible for human rights violations, specifically those part in the government’s bloody drug war.
Apart from denying travel visas to subject Philippine officials, the Magnitsy Act also imposes the freeze and forfeiture of their US assets, properties, and bank accounts.
“Once this is also implemented, we will witness how the world of human rights violators in the Philippine government increasingly shrinks. This will teach them that human rights is not a domestic concern, but a universal interest that affects the security of all nations, regardless of where the violations occur,” said De Lima.
The senator further stressed that systematic and widespread violation of human rights, like what Filipinos experience under the Duterte regime, is not an exercise of sovereignty or independence.
“It is a crime against humanity that must be condemned and punished with sanctions by the community of nations, as it is now being punished by the US Congress,” she emphasized.
“It is only a matter of time before the European Union, Canada, and other nations follow suit in imposing sanctions on Duterte, his officials and their cohorts,” De Lima said.