De Lima asks lawyers to be ‘champions of rights’ under Duterte gov’t
Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima has appealed to fellow lawyers to show President Rodrigo Duterte that they would not allow him and his administration to ignore the rights of people and set aside the rule of law.
In her message to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), De Lima urged its members not to become just “victims of wrongs” but “champions of rights.”
“Igiit natin sa Pangulo at ipaunawa sa kanyang administrasyon na hindi tayo pumapayag na ipagwalang-bahala ang ating mga karapatan at isantabi ang ating mga batas,” De Lima said in her message read at the forum with the theme “Pagtugon sa Hamon: A Call to the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human Rights.”
“Ipaglaban natin ang demokrasya sa Pilipinas at ang dignidad ng Pilipino. We cannot just be victims of wrongs. We should be champions of rights,” De Lima said.
De Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s custodial center for drug-related charges, once again slammed Duterte for “demonizing” dissent and undermining democratic institutions and officials who criticize him.
Citing the forum’s theme, De Lima said that rule of law, access to justice, and human rights are being attacked by “a person who preys upon the fears of our countrymen and uses the same fear to seize, consolidate and expand power.”
“This is indeed a challenge to us, as keepers of the law and workers of justice, to protect our countrymen against the abuses and excesses in the exercise of the awesome powers of the state, thus, ensuring that no matter how lowly and humble we are, every Filipino is assured of access to justice and guaranteed of respect for his or her human rights,” the senator noted.
In the same forum on Thursday, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who is currently facing an impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives, also called on the IBP and other human rights protectors not to be “stymied, muzzled or cowed.” /kga
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