Opposition senators hail UN probe on human rights issues in Philippines
MANILA, Philippines — Some opposition senators on Friday hailed the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) conduct of a review into the human rights situation in the Philippines, with Sen. Leila de Lima saying this would be a clear signal to President Rodrigo Duterte that truth and justice will prevail.
De Lima said that while the actions to be taken by relevant UN officials in light of the UNHRC resolution are “relatively modest” compared with the establishment of a commission of inquiry that the human rights community has been advocating, the review “will still be a significant development,” and “a clear signal to Duterte and his cohorts that truth and justice will prevail, and that the perpetrators and masterminds behind the atrocities will be held accountable.”
“The UNHRC Resolution is a welcome step – a jumpstart, indeed – in our people’s search for accountability for the ongoing mass murder and other gross human rights violations in the Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte,” the detained senator added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for his part urged government not to impute malice on the action of the UNHRC, of which the Philippines is among the founding members. The opposition lawmaker stressed that the government is legally mandated to honor the country’s treaty obligations.
“We should allow the investigation to take place. The government must cooperate. We cannot simply ignore it, because we are part of it and the government is legally and constitutionally mandated to honor our treaty obligations,” Drilon said in a statement.
Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros meanwhile lauded the “courageous act of solidarity and humanity” of those who supported the resolution.
She urged “democracy-loving Filipinos” to “use the resolution to pressure our government to fully recognize democracy, human rights and the rule of law in our country and put an end to its bloody, corrupt and abusive war on drugs.”
During its 41st regular session in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday night, the 47-member UNHRC adopted an Iceland-led resolution which asked the Philippine government, among others, to cooperate with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who would prepare a “comprehensive written report” on the Philippines. Eighteen member countries voted in favor of the resolution, 14 opposed and 15 abstained.
The resolution also called upon the Philippine government to “cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, including by facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.”
While Duterte said he would review whether he would allow the entry of investigators into the country, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has warned that “consequences would be far-reaching” for nations who voted in favor of the resolution, which the Philippines and China opposed. /muf
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