5 US senators hail resolution condemning PH human rights abuses

Published January 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Roy Mabasa 

Five United States senators from both sides of the political aisle on Thursday (Friday in Manila) applauded the approval of a resolution condemning human rights abuses in the Philippines.

One World Trade Center and the American Flag are seen from Brooklyn Bridge Park on March 7, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP /MANILA BULLETIN)
The American Flag is seen from Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a joint statement, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) also urged the government in Manila to respect freedom of expression and the people’s fundamental rights.

“In passing this resolution, the United States Senate makes clear that the Duterte government must end its human rights abuses. Preventing Senators and Americans from setting foot in the Philippines will not help the Duterte government brush under the rug state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings. No arbitrary detention or illegitimate charge can obscure the fact that Senator De Lima, Maria Ressa, and all those who speak truth to power exemplify the highest democratic ideals,” the US lawmakers said in the statement.

Senator Markey, one of the principal supporters of the resolution, said: “While we remain a steadfast ally of the Philippines, we also remain resolute in defending human rights and the rule of law.”

Introduced in April last year, the US Senate resolution specifically raises the cases of Sen. Leila De Lima and Rappler’s head Maria Ressa.

De Lima, a known critic of Duterte’s bloody war-on-drugs campaign, has been in detention since 2017 on drug-related charges.

For his part, Sen. Durbin said the Duterte administration continues to “chip away” at respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights in the Philippines.

“Passage of this bipartisan resolution shows that the US Senate stands united in our condemnation of his government’s troubling behavior and democratic backsliding. We also continue our call for the need to release Senator Leila de Lima and for the Duterte government to end the harassment of journalists.”

READ MORE: US Senate hits PH gov’t on De Lima detention

The American lawmakers also see the need for the Duterte administration to “respect the fundamental human rights of its people.”

“The ongoing extrajudicial killings and meritless imprisonment of Senator de Lima and Ms. Ressa are unconscionable. We value our relationship with the Philippines. But the US Congress expects to see real change to the current practices of the Duterte government. I am pleased to see the United States Senate presenting a united front in this effort,” Senator Blackburn said.

Senator Coons, who co-chairs the US Senate Human Rights Caucus and a member of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee stated that the passage of the resolution is a reaffirmation of the US commitment to promote human rights and accountability in all parts of the world.

“I believe we have the responsibility to call out the grave human rights violations committed by President Duterte’s government, including against prominent political leaders, human rights activists, and members of the press.”

READ MORE: Palace disappointed, calls pro-De Lima US resolution ‘intrusive’