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US lawmakers hope Marcos gov't will uphold human rights during visit to Philippines

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
US lawmakers hope Marcos gov't will uphold human rights during visit to Philippines
President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos, Jr. meets with the US Congressional Delegation headed by Senator Edward J. Markey on August 18, 2022.
Bongbong Marcos / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the United States were inspired by the courage of Filipinos who faced repression under the Duterte administration, and expressed hope that the new government would set a new tone for the importance of human rights and press freedom, an American senator said.

A US congressional delegation led by Senator Edward Markey met with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., other government officials, former lawmaker Leila de Lima and journalists this week. 

According to a release from Markey’s office, the delegation raised concerns about the human rights record of the previous government, and expressed hope that Marcos will turn the page by upholding the fundamental human rights during their meeting with the new president.

“I am pleased to lead the first US Congressional delegation to meet with President Marcos Jr. and look forward to the promise of a renewed partnership with the newly elected government,” Markey said.

“I expressed to President Marcos my hope that he will turn the page on the human rights abuses of the previous government.

Markey was banned from visiting the Philippines by President Rodrigo Duterte after calling for De Lima’s release and raising alarm over human rights violations under his watch.

Visiting De Lima

Markey also said the members of the delegation were “inspired by the courage and resilience of Senator De Lima, the press, and every day Filipinos in the face of persecution and repression under the previous government.”

US lawmakers were allowed to visit De Lima at her detention facility in Camp Crame in Quezon City on Friday. The visit, which lasted for more than an hour, came a day after they were barred by police for lacking a court order.

Markey renewed his call to drop all charges against De Lima and release her from detention. De Lima has been in jail since Feb. 24, 2017 on drug charges.

De Lima has two pending cases. She had been acquitted in one case.

Markey also stressed that a “free and independent press is the bedrock of any democracy.” The delegation met with journalists from Rappler.

Climate change, security issues

According to Markey’s office, the delegation discussed cooperation on renewable energy, ways to address climate change, US support for human rights, press freedom, and LGBTQIA+ rights and regional security issues, such as the South China Sea during meetings with Marcos, foreign affairs secretary Enrique Manalo, and justice chief Jesus Crispin Remulla.

Markey also met with Filipino lawmakers, with House Speaker Martin Romualdez assuring the American legislators that the lower chamber “will remain committed in enacting laws that would help deepen cooperation with the United States.”

Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda said the reception hosted by Romualdez was “an opportune time to discuss pressing issues, such as the pandemic, threats to our planet’s health, the global economy, national security as well as public health.”

Members of the US congressional delegation also include Representatives John Garamendi (Democrat-California), Don Beyer (Democrat-Virginia) and Aumua Amata Radewagen (Republican-American Samoa). 

EDWARD MARKEY

FERDINAND MARCOS JR.

HUMAN RIGHTS

LEILA DE LIMA

UNITED STATES

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