Manila solon gives stern message to visiting European Parliament human rights panel

House Committee on Human Rights Chairman and Manila 6th district Rep. Benny Abante issued a stern message Thursday, Feb. 23 to European Parliament (EP) Subcommittee on Human Rights members.

Manila 6th district Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. speaks during the meeting with the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights (Facebook)

The veteran solon did so as he led the House panel members in a meeting with the foreign parliamentarians at the House of Representatives in Quezon City.

According to Abante, the EP panel members brought up the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)--a status that the Philippines enjoys from the European Union (EU)--during the meeting.

GSP status allows a country duty-free exports (under 6,000 tariff lines) to the EU. This means that Philippine products get to enter the EU market cheaper.

"Sa akin ano (For me), 'Do not dangle to us the carrot then afterwards if you do not like our answers you’re gonna us with a stick,'" Abante told House reporters after the meeting, recounting the exact words he told the EP panel.

"Tanggalin natin yung carrot and stick approach dito (Let's remove the carrot and stick approach here)," he said.

"I mean our farmers, our fisherfolks need that. And hindi nila dapat yung kanilang trade agreement ng Pilipinas when it comes to human rights investigation (They shouldn't involve their trade agreement with the Philippines when it comes to human rights investigation)," he stressed.

Asked how the EP panel responded, Abante said, "Hindi nga nakasagot nung una. Sabi ko hindi naman dapat ganun (They had nothing to say at first. I said they shouldn't do that)."

The meeting took place amid the International Criminal Court's (ICC) insistence on probing former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte for alleged crimes against humanity in connection with his administration’s war on illegal drugs.

The bloody campaign claimed at least 10,000 lives, according to administration critics.

Asked what was discussed during Thursday's meeting, the Manila lawmaker said, "Pinag-usapang lang namin yung mga alleged human rights abuses that they telling us about (We talked about the alleged human rights abuses that they telling us about."

"Sabi ko naman sa kanila (I told them), 'We would like to have a more objective dialogue not a biased dialogue,'" Abante said.

He said that he assured the EP panel that the House panel was "doing our investigate, to check all human rights by legislation".

"We were quite candid and frank about it," Abante further said.