Senate minority bloc urges PH gov’t to heed UN panel’s decision on De Lima’s case

Minority senators have urged the Philippine government to heed the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council – Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNHRC-WGAD) about the situation of their colleague, Sen. Leila M. de Lima.

In Senate Resolution (SR) No. 1019, they urged the appropriate government agencies to comply with the recommendations of UNHRC-WGAD in its 13-page Opinion adopted during its 82nd session last Aug. 24 and was made public only last Nov. 30.

“The Philippines as a member of the United Nations should always endeavor to ‘fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in according with the present Charter’ as mandated by Article 2 paragraph 2 of the UN Charter,” they said in SR 1019.

“The Philippines as a member of the UNHRC must faithfully comply with its obligation to promote, protect and uphold the human rights of all regardless of sex, race, religion, or political beliefs, and opinions,” they added.

SR 1019 was signed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, Senators Francis N. Pangilinan, Antonio F. Trillanes, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Risa Hontiveros two days before Congress takes a recess for the mid-term election.

The UN working panel has recommended to the Philippine government to take needed steps to remedy De Lima’s situation and conform it with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It has also asked the Philippine government to immediately release De Lima from unjust detention and accord her an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, including her reinstatement in the positions from which she was ousted.

The UN working panel also asked the government to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding De Lima’s arbitrary deprivation of liberty and take appropriate measures against those responsible for violating her right.

The minority senators, however, noted that since it has issued its decision, the UN working panel has not received any reply to its request from the Philippine government to inform them about action taken on their recommendations.

In its decision, the UNHRC-WGAD considered De Lima’s pre-trial detention as “targeted and discriminatory,” “is devoid of legal basis,” and therefore, should be freed immediately.

It has also referred her case to three UN special rapporteurs to investigate the violations committed against her after finding sufficient grounds that violate her rights as a duly-elected senator and a human rights defender.

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye was tasked to look into the violations committed against De Lima for her “convictions and public statements regarding extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.”

Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences Dubravka Simonovic was tasked to look into the discrimination committed against De Lima due to her political opinion and her status as a human rights defender and as a woman.

Mindful of the illegal ouster of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Diego Garcia-Sayan was tasked to look into violations of De Lima’s rights for a fair trial. (30)