De Lima asks DFA to invite UN expert to probe Marawi humanitarian crisis
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima called on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to invite a United Nations (UN) representative to probe the "humanitarian crisis" in Marawi City.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution 455, urging the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to invite Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), to examine the plight of residents displaced by the Marawi crisis.
De Lima said the worsening condition is likely to continue with the extension of martial law in Mindanao until December 31.
"[It] is imperative for the Executive Department to invite Jimenez-Damary, to enable her to verify these troubling complaints, assess the actual living conditions of the IDPs within and outside evacuation camps, and to propose recommendations on how to improve such conditions going forward," the senator said in her resolution.
The former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said the government, as the "legal protector of Filipinos who are unable to protect themselves," has the duty to pursue an impartial investigation by an "independent commission."
"The government, under the doctrine of 'parens patriae,' should always prioritize and address the situation of the displaced citizens in Mindanao particularly, the surfacing humanitarian issues emerging from the intensified armed conflict between the military and of terrorist elements," she said.
De Lima added that the visit of Jimenez-Damary would help in the creation of bills that could help address the crisis.
Citing data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Zamboanga, the senator said there are a total of 351,168 persons displaced due to the Marawi crisis, with 17,389 of them staying in evacuation centers as of June 2017.
De Lima also cited the statements of Ranao rescue team member Samira Gutoc-Tomawis before the joint session of Congress, where she asked help for the difficult living conditions of IDPs. (READ: Marawi resident makes emotional plea vs martial law abuses)
In 2016, De Lima also filed a resolution urging the Duterte administration to formally invite Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, to look into the spate of killings in the Philippines.
Callamard visited the country in May to participate in an academic conference on drug-related issues. However, she said she was not allowed to conduct a fact-finding mission. (READ: Callamard: I'm waiting for PH to lift conditions of official visit)
Duterte has since slammed the UN and Callamard for supposedly interfering in domestic affairs. (READ: Philippines complains to UN agency about Callamard) – Rappler.com