CONDEMNING THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR ITS CONTINUED DETENTION OF SENATOR LEILA DE LIMA, CALLING FOR HER IMMEDIATE RELEASE; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 4
(Senate - January 08, 2020)

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[Pages S79-S80]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




    CONDEMNING THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR ITS CONTINUED 
 DETENTION OF SENATOR LEILA DE LIMA, CALLING FOR HER IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 365, Senate Res. 142.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 142) condemning the Government of the 
     Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila De 
     Lima, calling for her immediate release, and for other 
     purposes.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
resolution, which had been reported from the Committee on Foreign 
Relations, with an amendment to strike all after the resolving clause 
and insert the part printed in italic and an amendment to strike the 
preamble and insert the part printed in italic, as follows:
       Whereas extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the 
     Government of the Philippines as part of a government-
     directed antidrug campaign present the foremost human rights 
     challenge in the Philippines;
       Whereas the Department of State's 2017 Human Rights Report 
     notes numerous human rights concerns, including the 
     persecution of human rights defenders and the detention of 
     political prisoners in the Philippines, stating, ``The most 
     significant human rights issues included: killings by 
     security forces, vigilantes and others allegedly connected to 
     the government, and by insurgents; torture and abuse of 
     prisoners and detainees by security forces; often harsh and 
     life threatening prison conditions; warrantless arrests by 
     security forces and cases of apparent government disregard 
     for legal rights and due process; political prisoners; 
     killings of and threats against journalists; official 
     corruption and abuse of power; threats of violence against 
     human rights activists; violence against women; and forced 
     labor.'';
       Whereas the Department of State's 2018 Human Rights report 
     notes numerous human rights concerns in the Philippines, 
     including ``unlawful or arbitrary killings by security 
     forces, vigilantes, and others allegedly connected to the 
     government, and by insurgents; forced disappearance; torture; 
     arbitrary detention; harsh and life-threatening prison 
     conditions; political prisoners; arbitrary or unlawful 
     interference with privacy; criminal libel; killings of and 
     threats against journalists; official corruption and abuse of 
     power; and the use of forced and child labor'';
       Whereas, on February 23, 2017, an arrest warrant was issued 
     for Philippine Senator Leila De Lima for allegations related 
     to drug trafficking, and as of April 4, 2019, Senator De Lima 
     had been detained for 770 days;
       Whereas the charges brought against Senator De Lima 
     followed a history of criticizing extrajudicial killings in 
     the Philippines and the Rodrigo R. Duterte administration's 
     antidrug campaign, including--
       (1) in 2009, in her capacity as Chair of the Commission on 
     Human Rights, Senator De Lima investigated the alleged 
     involvement of then-Mayor of Davao City Rodrigo R. Duterte in 
     the extrajudicial killings executed by the so-called ``Davao 
     Death Squad'';
       (2) on December 15, 2014, then-Secretary of Justice De Lima 
     led a raid of the national penitentiary which resulted in the 
     confiscation of drugs, firearms, and contraband items and the 
     extraction of 19 drug lords and high-profile inmates involved 
     in the facility's drug network;
       (3) on July 13, 2016, Senator De Lima, in her capacity as 
     Chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, 
     filed Senate Resolution No. 9 calling for an investigation 
     into extrajudicial killings and summary executions of 
     suspected drug offenders arising from President Duterte's 
     ``War on Drugs'';
       (4) on August 22, 2016, Senator De Lima conducted Senate 
     hearings during which alleged former death squad members 
     detailed extrajudicial killings executed as part of the 
     antidrug campaign and one member testified that Duterte 
     participated in extrajudicial killings as mayor of Davao 
     City; and
       (5) on August 2, 2016, and September 19, 2016, Senator De 
     Lima delivered two privileged speeches on the Senate floor 
     calling on President Duterte to end the killings;
       Whereas President Duterte vowed to publicly destroy Senator 
     De Lima;
       Whereas the charges against Senator De Lima were supported 
     by testimony from inmates whose illegal activities were 
     disrupted by her 2014 raid;
       Whereas the United Nations Human Rights Council's Working 
     Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted an Opinion on August 24, 
     2018, finding several categories of arbitrary detention and 
     concluding, ``Ms. De Lima's political views and convictions 
     are clearly at the centre of the present case and that the 
     authorities have displayed an attitude towards her that can 
     only be characterized as targeted and discriminatory. Indeed, 
     she has been the target of partisan persecution and there is 
     no explanation for this other than her exercise of the right 
     to express such views and convictions as a human rights 
     defender.'';
       Whereas the Department of State's 2017 Human Rights Report 
     highlighted due process obstructions in the case of Senator 
     De Lima, stating, ``During the year prosecutors used a 
     variety of legal tactics, including filing new and amending 
     previous charges, to delay arraignment.'';
       Whereas the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary 
     Detention recommended that the Government of the Philippines 
     adopt certain measures, including--
       (1) the immediate release of Senator De Lima;
       (2) an independent investigation of the circumstances 
     surrounding the arbitrary detention; and
       (3) the provision of compensation and other reparations, 
     including reinstatement to the positions from which she was 
     ousted;
       Whereas, on July 20, 2017, the Tom Lantos Human Rights 
     Commission of the United States Congress held a hearing on 
     The Human Rights Consequences of the War on Drugs in the 
     Philippines, during which Human Rights Watch testified about 
     the ``relentless government campaign'' against Senator De 
     Lima ``in evident response to her outspoken criticism of 
     Duterte's `war on drugs' and her calls for accountability'';
       Whereas Amnesty International finds Senator De Lima's 
     detention to be based solely on her criticism of the 
     Government of the Philippines, her political beliefs, and her 
     peaceful defense of human rights, and considers her a 
     Prisoner of Conscience;
       Whereas the immediate release of Senator De Lima has been 
     called for by nongovernmental organizations, human rights 
     groups, parliamentary bodies, and individuals including the 
     European Parliament, the Australian Parliament, the Inter-
     Parliamentary Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights 
     Watch, Liberal International, ASEAN Parliamentarians for 
     Human Rights, and many of Senator De Lima's colleagues in the 
     Senate minority bloc;
       Whereas Maria Ressa, an investigative journalist who 
     founded the online news platform Rappler, has been arrested 
     several times on charges against her and her news 
     organization widely viewed by human rights observers and a 
     number of governments as part of a pattern of ``weaponizing 
     the rule of law'' to repress independent media; and
       Whereas Ms. Ressa has been released on bail, but she and 
     Rappler still face charges and will soon be standing trial: 
     Now, therefore, be it
     Resolved, That the Senate--

[[Page S80]]

       (1) condemns--
       (A) the Government of the Philippines for its role in 
     state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings by police and other 
     armed individuals as part of the ``War on Drugs'';
       (B) the arrest and detention of human rights defenders and 
     political leaders who exercise their rights to freedom of 
     expression;
       (C) the harassment, arrest, and unjustified judicial 
     proceedings against the media and journalists, in particular, 
     the proceeding against Rappler and Maria Ressa; and
       (D) the continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima;
       (2) considers Senator De Lima to be a prisoner of 
     conscience, detained solely on account of her political views 
     and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression;
       (3) calls on the President of the United States to impose 
     sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights 
     Accountability Act (subtitle F of title XII of Public Law 
     114-328; 22 U.S.C. 2656 note) with respect to--
       (A) members of the security forces and officials of the 
     Government of the Philippines responsible for extrajudicial 
     killings; and
       (B) officials of the Government of the Philippines 
     responsible for orchestrating the arrest and prolonged 
     detention of Senator De Lima;
       (4) calls on the Government of the Philippines to 
     immediately release Senator De Lima, drop all charges against 
     her, remove restrictions on her personal and work conditions, 
     and allow her to fully discharge her legislative mandate, 
     especially as Chair of the Committee on Social Justice;
       (5) calls on the President of the United States to ensure 
     that United States security assistance provided to the 
     Philippine National Police is fully consistent with the human 
     rights conditions mandated in section 36 of the Arms Export 
     Control Act ((22 U.S.C. 2776)) and section 620M of the 
     Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, (22 U.S.C. 2378d);
       (6) urges the Government of the Philippines to recognize 
     the importance of human rights defenders and their work and 
     allow them to operate freely without fear of reprisal; and
       (5) urges the Government of the Philippines to guarantee 
     the right to the freedom of the press, and to drop all the 
     charges against Maria Ressa and Rappler.

  Mrs. FISCHER. I ask unanimous consent that the committee-reported 
amendment to the resolution be agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The committee-reported amendment was agreed to.
  Mrs. FISCHER. I know of no further debate on the resolution, as 
amended.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. If there is no further debate, the question is 
on the adoption of the resolution, as amended.
  The resolution, as amended, was agreed to.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
committee-reported amendment to the preamble be agreed to; that the 
preamble, as amended, be agreed to; and that the motions to reconsider 
be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The committee-reported amendment to the preamble was agreed to.
  The preamble, as amended, was agreed to.
  The resolution (S. Res. 142), as amended, and the preamble, as 
amended, were agreed to.

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