Philippines improving human rights, de Lima tells US

Posted at 09/24/12 11:13 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Justice Secretary Leila De Lima has assured US lawmakers that the Philippine government is doing its best to investigate and prosecute extra-judicial killings and other human rights cases.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. said de Lima, who is in Washington DC, has met with American legislators to discuss the efforts being undertaken by the Aquino administration to address human rights concerns in the Philippines.

“We think we were able to bring our message across that the Philippines has been making significant progress as far as the human rights situation is concerned and that the Philippine government continues to take concrete steps to address human rights issues,” Cuisia said in a press statement.

The Philippine embassy in Washington DC said the US lawmakers, led by Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers, chair of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, expressed satisfaction with de Lima's human rights report.

De Lima also met on Friday with the following members of the House Committee on Appropriations and Committee on Foreign Affairs: Representatives Tom Marino (R, Pennsylvania), Steve Austria (R, Ohio), Ed Royce (R, California), Mike Kelley (R, Pennsylvania), Tom Cole (R, Oklahoma), and Donald Manzullo (R, Illinois).

"I am very pleased to learn about the progress being made by the Philippines and I will bring this to the attention of my colleagues,” said Marino, a member of the House Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights.

Washington has withheld almost $13 million in military assistance until the Philippines meets certain conditions related to solving and prosecuting of human rights cases.

De Lima is also set to meet US senators this week.

“The Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Justice have recently come up with a unified protocol called Operational Guidelines in Evidence-Gathering, Investigation and Case Build-up in Cases of Political and Media Killings,” de Lima told US legislators.

“As an innovative measure, prosecutors are also now working closely with law enforcers in evidence gathering and case build-up,” she added.

She also mentioned a special task force to oversee the investigation and prosecution of cases of extra-judicial cases and other human rights violations, as well as other human rights efforts under the Aquino administration.