Palace leaves US senators’ call to address abuses in PH to Biden

August 2, 2021 People's Tonight 279 views

MALACAÑANG is leaving it up to United States (US) President Joe Biden to decide on Senate Democrats’ call for the Biden administration to condemn human rights violations in the Philippines amid the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after 11 American senators, led by Senator Edward Markey, called the attention of the Biden administration over their concerns about the human rights situation in the Philippines under the current administration.

“We leave that decision to President Joe Biden,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Joining Markey were Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard J Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

In a July 26 letter to US State Secretary Antony Blinken, the 11 American senators urged the Biden administration “to stand with the people of the Philippines as they continue to fight for their universal human rights.”

This letter comes when US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III is embarking on a three-country swing in Southeast Asia that includes a visit to the Philippines and a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Roque downplayed American senators’ letter, saying the Palace would not interfere with matters concerning another country’s government.

“Amerikano po ‘yan (They are Americans). In the same way na ayaw mayroong maghihimasok sa gawain ng Kongreso ng Pilipinas, hindi po natin sila panghihimasukan (In the same way that we do not want them to interfere with matters of Congress of the Philippines, we will not interfere with their internal matters),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

He said the US senators were free to do what they wanted, after all.

“‘Yan naman po ay personal na mga pananaw ng mga senador na Amerikano. Bahala na po sila kung anong gagawin nila (That is a personal opinion of the American senators. It’s up to them to decide on what they want to do),” he added.

The 11 American senators claimed that Duterte waged a “multi-year extrajudicial, violent, and inhumane war on drugs that has devastated communities, and has been used as justification to target the independent press, political opponents, human rights advocates, and compromise judicial due process.”

They also raised concern over the four-year detention of Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte’s staunchest critic who was arrested on drug charges, and the case of journalist Maria Ressa, who was arrested and convicted on cyber libel charges.

In 2019, Duterte barred Markey, Leahy, and Durbin from entering the Philippines after they sponsored a US travel ban on Filipino officials linked to the detention of De Lima. Philippine News Agency