Senators Franklin Drilon, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, and Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday, October 23, opposed the proposal of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the Philippines to withdraw from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
“I oppose the proposal of Arroyo that we withdraw from the IPU just because this global body of parliamentarians expressed its concern over the political persecution of our fellow Senators Leila de Lima and (Antonio) Sonny Trillanes,” Senate minority leader Drilon said.
“House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should mind her own and we will mind our own,” the minority leader added.
Lacson also claimed that the country’s withdrawal from the union is “premature” and also on the wrong premise as reported by The Manila Times.
“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,” Lacson said.
“Second, by withdrawing, it would imply that the Philippine Senate acknowledges the political persecution of opposition senators. 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 is coming from,” he added.
Hontiveros also criticized the proposal and tagged it as a “virtual admission of guilt on the part of the Duterte government.”
“It only confirms the IPU’s serious concerns about our country’s worsening human rights record. If this goes on, the way it’s going, the Philippines will soon run out of intergovernmental bodies that it can be part of. President Rodrigo Duterte cannot withdraw our country from the world,” Hontiveros said.
The IPU is said to be an organization of national parliamentarians worldwide with 178 members and 12 associate members. The union aims to “protect and build global democracy through political dialog and concrete action.”
Drilon, Lacson and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto were among the senators that were a part of the Philippine delegation this month to the 139th IPU conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Other lawmakers included in the said conference were Arroyo, Paranaque City Representative Gustavo Tambunting, Kabayan Party List Representative Ron Salo, Sagip Party List Representative Rodante Marcoleta, and Valenzuela City Representative Eric Martinez.
“Arroyo’s proposal is despairing, defeatist and will be seen by the world as a tacit admission that indeed critical lawmakers are being persecuted under the Duterte administration,” Drilon stated.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, however, declined to deliberately comment on the said rejection from his fellow senators.
“I am inclined to concur but after due consultation with my colleagues,” Sotto responded.
“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,” Sotto added.