Press Release
July 27, 2019

De Lima condemns murder of Negros-based lawyer, underscores need to pass Human Rights Defenders Bill

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has condemned the recent killing of a lawyer in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental even as he underscored the urgency for the passage of her Senate Bill No. 179, also known as the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill.

"A day after the President spewed rhetoric on a better life for Filipinos, another human rights defender was shot dead in Negros," said De Lima, the staunchest critic of the administration's flawed anti-illegal drug policy.

"It seems that this administration's idea of a better life for Filipinos is one without its critics - where peace comes from the barrel of a gun," added De Lima, blaming the recent spate of killings in Negros on Mr. Duterte's Memorandum Order No. 32, which puts the entire Negros Island under increased military deployment.

Last July 23, lawyer Anthony Trinidad, 53, was aboard his vehicle when he and his wife, Novie Marie, were ambushed by motorcycle-riding gunmen. Trinidad, known as a lawyer for political prisoners in Negros, was killed while his wife was injured in the shooting.

Local police authorities have suspected that Trinidad's assassination might have something to do with cases he was handling as he had requested for police escorts due to death threats he was recently getting.

De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, pointed out that this latest killing incident underscores the urgency for the passage of SB No. 179 or the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill, which she refilled this 18th Congress.

She also noted the need for an independent and unhampered probe by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) into the human rights situation in the Philippines, including the spate of killings of human rights defenders.

According to the Senator, this impending investigation by the UNHRC is the only way to stop Duterte's "killing machine" that has claimed thousands of lives under the guise of his fake war against illegal drugs.

"Allowing UN investigators to freely probe the rampant human right abuses and killings during the Duterte regime is the only way to put a stop to his madness and his thirst for blood of his own countrymen," she said.

The UNHRC recently adopted an Iceland-led resolution calling for a comprehensive international review of the Philippine government's all-out war on drugs that resulted in the death of thousands of suspected drug offenders.

However, the Duterte government has continued to defy the UNHRC's call for an independent probe, calling it an unnecessary interference by foreign entities.

In the previous 17th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 1031 calling for a Senate probe into the continued spate of violent attacks against lawyers, especially those fighting for human rights of underprivileged Filipinos.

De Lima's vocal stand against extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses has earned her Mr. Duterte's ire, with the administration filing fabricated charges against her using coerced and perjured witnesses.

De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, has repeatedly maintained her innocence from the sham charges filed by the administration in a bid to silence her from her vocal criticism of the government's all-out war on drugs.

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