MANILA — Detained Sen. Leila de Lima has thrown her support behind a move in the US Senate to restrict the sale of guns and other war armaments to the Philippines amid the unabated killings that has characterized President Duterte’s brutal drug war.
“I support the bipartisan efforts in the US Senate to introduce such important piece of legislation to hold our law enforcement authorities accountable to the thousands of human rights violations committed under the all-out war on drugs,” De Lima said in a statement.
“This is a vital step forward in ensuring that the rule of law and respect (for) human rights prevail in modern democracies such as the Philippines. We cannot allow the state to oppress its critics and from using arms to curtail our fundamental rights,” she said.
While the Duterte administration and its allies were claiming that the government’s take-no-prisoners strategy against illegal drugs had made the country more peaceful, she said “our people are living in fear that they or someone close to them might fall victim to extrajudicial killings.”
De Lima, who has been indicted for drug trafficking after speaking against Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, said the proposed measure, introduced by US Senators Ben Cardin and Marco Rubio, would help “put an end to this national nightmare.”
De Lima stressed: “Under our modern democracy, it is important and necessary that governments around the world impose strict measures against arms and weapons from falling (into) the hands of unscrupulous individuals, especially among rogue law officers.”
Once enacted, the proposed bill, titled “The Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotic Acts of 2017,” would impose restrictions on the sale of US-made defense articles to the Philippine National Police.
But Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, said the Philippine government could always look for other sources of firearms and military hardware.
“There are other sources of guns aside from America,” he said in a radio interview. SFM
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