De Lima urges DFA to adhere to international human rights protocol

Sen. Leila de Lima ( photo)

SENATOR Leila de Lima on Wednesday, September 26, urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to accede to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR) in order to show their commitment to human rights.

“The Senate urges the DFA to seriously consider the possible adherence to, and adoption of the OP-ICESCR as further proof and affirmation by the Philippine government of the principle of universality and indivisibility of human rights,” Senate Resolution 898 stated.

The said protocol provides for a communications procedure allowing victims of human rights violations to present complaints before a committee on economic, social and cultural rights. It also allows the committee to start an investigation if it receives information that a state party has violated the ICESCR as reported by The Philippine Star.

“Certain individuals and sectors are vulnerable to civil and political rights violations given their economic, social, and cultural conditions,” De Lima said.

The senator claimed that poverty played a key role in the proliferation of human rights violation. Such a situation, according to her, necessitated the adherence to an international committee.

“Grinding poverty still persists in our country, despite the considerable economic growth rate in recent years. Despite the considerable economic growth rate in recent years, 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority reveals that 16.5 percent of Filipino families, or 21.6 percent of the entire population, are poor,” the resolution read.

Optional protocols, according to the United Nations (UN), are supplementary treaties. They may “either provide for procedures with regard to the treaty or address a substantive area related to the (main) treaty.”

In other words, they are mainly treaties in their own right. As such, they are open to “signature, accession or ratification by countries who are party to the main treaty.”

“The OP-ICESCR can provide further impetus to the development and crafting of more meaningful laws and policies that uplift the dignity of all, and strengthen the existing legal system that addressed the myriad of issues related to the economic, social and cultural right of the Filipinos,” the resolution stated.

The  Philippines became one of the 184 member-states of the UN that ratified the ICESCR. The ICESCR and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, along with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, formed the International Bill of Rights.

“It would be ideal for the country to adopt the optional protocol in the spirit of the Constitution and the Philippines’ adherence to the ICESCR,” De Lima said.

According to the 1987 Constitution, “the Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.”

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