Senators split over Arroyo suggestion of PH’s IPU pullout
Senators are split over Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s recommendation for the Philippines to withdraw its membership from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Arroyo made the proposal as she noted the IPU’s continued “interference” in the country’s judicial processes.
“I am inclined to concur but after due consultation with my colleagues,” Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said in a statement on Tuesday.
Perhaps, Sotto said, the IPU’s human-rights committee should be reminded first 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.”
“I’m just wondering how on earth can they think they can meddle with a member-country’s judicial process?” the Senate leader added in a text message.
In separate resolutions, the IPU recently expressed deep concern over the human-rights violations against Senators Leila De Lima and Antonio Trillanes— two of the staunchest critics of the Duterte administration.
De Lima has been detained for drug charges while President Rodrigo Duterte had revoked the amnesty granted to Trillanes and subsequently ordered his arrest.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, rejected Arroyo’s recommendation, citing at least three reasons.
“First, Speaker Arroyo’s recommendation is based on the wrong premise,” he said in another statement.
“The IPU has yet to act on its Human Rights Committee’s recommendation to the IPU Governing Council. Having said that, it is premature, if at all, to denounce the IPU as a whole, much less withdraw membership from the body.”
Withdrawing from the IPU, Lacson said, would also “imply that the Philippine Senate acknowledges the political persecution of opposition senators.”
“Contrarily, the recent resolution of Sen. Trillanes’ coup d’etat case by the Makati RTC Branch 148 is proof enough that the judicial process works in our country, and that the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary from the executive and legislative is evident and clear,” he pointed out.
On Monday, the court denied the Department of Justice’s request for an arrest order against Trillanes, saying that the coup d’etat case has long been dismissed already.
“Third, it is the Senate, not the House of Representatives, that is a member of the IPU, so I’m not sure where Speaker GMA (Arroyo’s initial) is coming from,” Lacson said.Like Lacson, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros also thumbed down Arroyo’s recommendation. Hontiveros said withdrawing from the IPU would mean a “virtual admission of guilt” on the part of the Duterte administration and would only confirm the IPU’s serious concerns about the country’s “worsening human-rights record.” If the Philippines would leave the IPU, then, Hontiveros said, the country would soon run out of intergovernmental bodies that it can be part of. She cited as example the Philippine’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC). “Now, this. What’s next, we withdraw membership from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) or even the United Nations (UN)?” Hontiveros asked. “President Rodrigo Duterte cannot withdraw our country from the world. The Philippines is part of a global community joined by the shared respect for democracy, human rights and dignity,” she said. “We cannot use our country’s sovereignty to mask the appalling climate of killing and impunity in the nation. We have an obligation to subject our public policies and even our leaders to international scrutiny, in the same way that we may hold accountable the actions of other nation-states,” the lady senator added. /jpv