• Filipinos denying rights violations in PH – de Lima

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    DETAINED Sen. Leila de Lima on Sunday described as tragic the supposedly continuous refusal of many Filipinos to reject what she considers a culture of death in the country but said she would never give up on the people.

    According to de Lima, several international organizations have criticized the war on illegal drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte, the latest being an assessment by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the President had unleashed a “human rights calamity” in the Philippines.

    De Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Quezon City on drug-related charges, said the assessment of the international human rights watchdog was accurate.

    “So true! How else would an impartial, discerning mind call this unprecedented reign of bloodbath in a land of mostly Catholic, God-fearing and compassionate people?” she asked in a handwritten statement.

    The senator noted that many international observers have taken serious note of the escalating number of victims of summary executions, mostly poor and defenseless, without even factoring in unrecorded killings.

    Senators earlier dismissed the HRW’s claim, saying the statement was too dramatic and inaccurate.

    Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said human rights advocates could not even present evidence to back their allegations that the drug-related killings were state-sponsored.

    Apart from observers denouncing the bloody drug campaign of the government, a number of organizations worldwide have called for accountability.

    De Lima cited an urgent plea for a United Nations-led inquiry into the killings made by a top human rights official of the organization, and the reports of foreign-based media and human rights organizations, such as The New York Times, Amnesty International and HRW on the drug-related killings in the country.

    “On the international plane, there is manifest uproar about the killings and inexorable solidarity with the victims,” she said.

    Amid the criticisms, according to the senator, many ordinary Filipinos and authorities are still in a state of denial, as if nothing is happening, and refused to renounce the alleged culture of death in the country.

    “In short, the world cares. But many Filipinos don’t. But then again, I cannot and will never give up on our people,” she said.

    JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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