MANILA, Philippines – Members of the United States House of Representatives have expressed satisfaction over the Philippines’ efforts to address human rights issues.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that American legislators, led by Kentucky Representative Harold Rogers, chair of the US House committee on appropriations, was pleased with the report of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the progress that Manila has made in the human rights battle.
It said de Lima was in Washington to lead government efforts to raise the awareness of American legislators, officials of the Department of State and the Department of Defense, and leaders of non-government agencies on the human rights achievements of President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.
It noted that de Lima’s visit came after the Philippines was able to garner improvements in its human rights record at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“We think we were able to bring our message across that the Philippines has been making significant progress as far as the human rights situation is concerned and that the Philippine government continues to take concrete steps to address human rights issues,” the DFA quoted Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr. as saying.
Aside from Rogers, de Lima also met with other members of the House Committee on Appropriations and Committee on
Foreign Affairs, including Representatives Tom Marino , Steve
Austria, Ed Royce, Mike Kelley, Tom Cole , and Donald Manzullo.
“I am very pleased to learn about the progress being made by the Philippines and I will bring this to the attention of my colleagues,” Representative Marino, a member of the House Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, was quoted as saying to de Lima.
“The US should assist true allies who promote human rights, observe the rule of law and dismantle organized crimes,” Marino added.
Cuisia was also quoted by the DFA as saying that de Lima assured American legislators that the Philippine Government had been consistent in its efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of extrajudicial killings and other human rights cases that had previously been brought to the attention of Manila.
“The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have recently come up with a unified protocol called Operational Guidelines in Evidence-Gathering, Investigation and Case Build-up in Cases of Political and Media Killings,” de Lima was quoted as saying to the legislators.
“As an innovative measure, prosecutors are also now working closely with law enforcers in evidence gathering and case build-up,” she added.
It said de Lima particularly noted the creation of a special task force to oversee the investigation and prosecution of cases of extra-judicial cases and other human rights violations.
It added that de Lima also emphasized a recent memorandum between the DOJ and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that aimed to achieve a high level of operational capacity in investigating and prosecuting human rights cases.
It said de Lima was also scheduled to meet with members of the US Senate this week.