Be champions of human rights, De Lima tells lawyers

Senator Leila M. de Lima today urged the Filipinos to continue expressing dissent over the crooked policies of the Duterte administration to pressure him and his allies into rethinking their approach to human rights and rule of law in the country.

In a message at the advocacy and academic summit "Pagtugon sa Hamon: A Call to the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human Rights" on Nov. 24, De Lima said the public should be "champions of rights" despite the propaganda and endless lies peddled by the Duterte machinery.

"Our rule of law, system of justice, and observance of human rights are indeed under attack. They are under attack by President Duterte who preys upon the fears of our countrymen and uses the same fear to seize, consolidate and expand power," she said.

"Nais kong hikayatin ang lahat na patuloy na magmasid, makialam, magsalita at manindigan. Igiit natin sa Pangulo at ipaunawa sa kanyang administrasyon na hindi tayo pumapayag na ipagwalang-bahala ang ating mga karapatan at isantabi ang ating mga batas. Ipaglalaban natin ang demokrasya sa Pilipinas at ang dignidad ng Pilipino. We cannot just be victims of wrongs. We should be champions of rights," she added.

De Lima noted how Duterte established a dark culture of violence against the poor and demonized dissent and ignored calls for accountability and undermined the democratic institutions and officials--like De Lima--that have dared stand in his way.

She said she has suffered humiliation and persecution at the hands of the present administration after she initiated a Senate probe into the unabated spate of extrajudicial and summary killings in the government's all-out war on drugs barely two weeks since she became a senator in 2016.

The Senator from Bicol said it is a challenge to the public, especially to lawyers and lawmakers, to protect their fellow Filipinos against the abuses and excesses in the state's exercise of power.

"Thus, ensuring that no matter how lowly and humble we are, every Filipino is assured of access to justice and guaranteed of respect for his or her human rights," she said.

De Lima maintained the darkest times--like the rule of Duterte, which is reminiscent of the fascist dictatorship--make the best heroes.

"Wala akong duda na ang ating mga pagsisikap ay magbubunga ng makabuluhang pagbabago para sa ikabubuti ng ating mga kababayan," she said.

De Lima further cited American anthropologist Margaret Mead to stress her point: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

The advocacy and academic summit "Pagtugon sa Hamon: A Call to the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human Rights" at the SMX Convention Center Aura, BGC, Taguig, was organized by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Attended by lawyers committed to upholding the rule of law, the conference is a two day conference scheduled from Nov.23-24.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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