MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a global organization of lawmakers, arrived in Manila and visited Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to check on the case of detained Senator Leila de Lima.
The IPU Committee on Human Rights visited Pimentel on Monday, May 22, led by its president Fawzi Koofi, a lawmaker from Afghanistan.
"We are here to see, assess the situation of detention of Senator Leila de Lima. The Senate President has been very cooperative with the committee," Koofi said in a short statement after the meeting.
It was Pimentel who invited IPU colleagues in April, during the IPU Assembly, to visit the Philippine Senate.
In the same event, the organization adopted the resolution of its Committee on Human Rights, expressing "deep concern" over De Lima's arrest and detention over alleged links to illegal drugs.
"The IPU, as a body, expressed concern [over] human rights violation of a member of the Senate in the Philippines, which is Senator Leila de Lima, that's why the assembly decided to have a mission to the Philippines," Koofi said.
The IPU committee members are set to meet Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senator Panfilo Lacson, and other government officials on Tuesday, May 23.
On Wednesday, May 24, they will visit De Lima at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
"We will also meet her on Wednesday to gather information about her arrest," Koofi said.
Pimentel said they discussed "nothing" about De Lima's case, saying they just thanked him for "inviting" them over.
"They are the ones concerned with Senator De Lima... they are here for a fact-finding mission. Let them do their job," he added.
"The organization is calling for a mission to the Philippines where it is deeply concerned over the detention of Senator Leila de Lima and the accusations that she was involved in drug trafficking," the IPU had said.
"The Senator has been a vocal critic of President [Rodrigo] Duterte, leading a series of investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings when he was Mayor of Davao City and initiating an inquiry into the alleged summary killings of thousands of alleged drug users and dealers since he took office in June 2016 and waged his war on drugs," it added.
The IPU, established in 1889, has 171 member parliaments, which "promote democracy, equality, human rights, development, and peace." – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com