Senator Leila M. de Lima has condemned the recent attack against a paralegal volunteer for the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) which happened a few days short of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, urged the Filipino public to continue demanding for justice and accountability for all the escalating attacks and abuses against activists and rights workers under the present administration.
“Mariin nating kinokondena ang panibagong karahasan laban sa isa na namang human rights defender at tagapagtanggol ng mga kapatid nating katutubo, na naganap pa sa nalalapit na pagdiriwang ng International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples_,” she said.
“Palakasin natin ang panawagan at pagkilos para labanan ang mga karumal-dumal na krimeng ito. Huwag nating hayaan na maging normal ang ganitong marahas na kalakaran, na walang ibang patutunguhan kundi ang isang di-makatao at di-makatarungang kinabukasan_,” she added.
Last Aug. 5, Ifugao farmers’ group volunteer and a correspondent of the alternative online paper _Northern Dispatch
identified as Brandon Lee was reportedly shot by still unidentified assailant in front of his house in Lagawe, Ifugao.
Lee, who was reportedly attacked and shot four times in the body after fetching his child from school, is still in a coma as of this writing.
Notably, Lee replaced Ricardo Mayumi at the job at IPM when the latter was killed last March 2, 2018, in Ambabag village in Kiangan town. Lee was also red-tagged by the military in 2015.
Instead of giving a “cold shoulder” on the attacks against human rights defenders, especially those fighting for the rights of persons belonging to cultural minorities, De Lima urged the government to protect them from abuses while exerting efforts to strengthen the promotion of the rights of IPs.
“For the longest time, IPs have been subjected to harassment, intimidation and acts of violence, that is why it is
alarming that the people who are willing to come forward to defend them are themselves being subjects of attacks,” she said.
“We need to stand up for the rights of IPs and the people who defend them,” De Lima, a former justice secretary, added.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, urged her colleagues to help her push for the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Bill which she filed as one of her first 10 priority measures this 18th Congress.
“With the unrelenting attacks against human rights defenders happening across the country, we need a law protecting them, now more than ever. The State is duty-bound to protect the rights of the defenders,” she said.
Under the Human Rights Defenders Bill, it is the State’s obligation to ensure protection of human rights defenders against intimidation and unlawful intrusion by any public or private individual.