By William Casis i FilAm Star Correspondent
The supposed Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) inquiry into the alleged political persecution of Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV is still in the recommendation stage and is thus not binding for now, stressed the Senate majority bloc.
They noted the “inquiry” and related actions are mere recommendations by the IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and has not reached the plenary for adoption.
But detained Sen. Leila de Lima expressed disappointment with the reactions of their colleagues, Senate President Tito Sotto and Sen. Ping Larson, to the IPU request for the Philippine Senate to act on the Duterte government’s acts of persecution against her and Sen. Sonny Trillanes.
“ As their fellow senator, I would like to think that they would be more receptive and open to the findings and recommendations of the IPU on the political persecution of one of their colleagues,” she said.
Rather than criticize and disrespect this international organization of legislators, she said Sotto and Lacson might do better to at least do an insightful reading of the IPU reports in order to understand where the IPU is coming from.
“After all, members of the IPU, like Senators Sotto and Lacson, are legislators in their respective countries who have certainly earned the right not to be treated with condescension by their Philippine counterparts,” said the opposition senator, a strong critic of the President.
Lacson noted that the “IPU-adopted resolutions,” at least at this time, are mere recommendations of the IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to the Governing Council of the IPU, which has yet to forward the same to the plenary for adoption by the member parliamentarians.
“We believe we should correct the inaccuracies in the interpretation by Sen. de Lima’s camp of the facts, deliberate or otherwise” he also said.
He cited a document from the IPU website showing the human rights committee’s decision was to “recommend” that the IPU governing council reiterate its call for de Lima’s release and to “abandon the legal proceedings against her.”
The human rights committee’s recommendations to the governing council also included asking the Philippine Supreme Court to grant de Lima occasional “legislative furlough” and to hold an urgent follow-up visit by the IPU human rights committee to the Philippines to look into the cases of de Lima and Trillanes.
Another recommendation was for de Lima’s colleagues in the Philippine Senate to “act in solidarity” with her.
On the other hand, a check of the IPU’s news archives did not indicate the international body had adopted these recommendations.
“Perhaps the IPU’s human rights committee should be reminded that the Philippines is a sovereign state with a working judicial process, and a Constitution that decrees the separation of powers for the executive, legislative and judicial branches,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.
“Its recommendation to interfere in our judicial process by calling for the abandoning of legal proceedings against Sen. de Lima and an ‘occasional legislative furlough’ for her; and for us, her colleagues in the Senate, to ‘act in solidarity’ with her, smack of arrogance and temerity,” he added.
Sotto admitted that initially, he was inclined to concur with the idea.
“But after due consultation with my colleagues, I reconsidered my position on the matter. With all due respect to my fellow parliamentarians, I’m just wondering, how on earth can they think they can meddle with a member-country’s judicial process?” Sotto asked.
Some legislators who attended the 139th IPU conference in Geneva earlier this month as part of the Philippine delegation also decried some of the committee’s recommendations for bordering on undue interference in the Philippines’ internal affairs.
De Lima said IPU is not made up of unreasonable individuals who just happen to have the habit of picking on small countries like the Philippines.
“The IPU’s Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians has gone through the length to look into my, and now Sen. Trillanes’s, situation. They did not just blindly come out with their findings and recommendations,” said De Lima.
“If only Senators Sotto and Lacson would open their petrified minds to what the members of the IPU have to say, maybe they can learn a thing or two about international collegiality and respectful interaction with their counterparts in the world,” she added.