SENATE President Vicente Sotto III yesterday rallied parliaments all over the world to translate international laws into “beneficial domestic laws” to help “those who are most vulnerable to abuse and violence.”
Sotto, in his speech during the 141st IPU Assembly in Belgrade, said the Philippines “remains a steadfast believer in the equalizing power of international law” as he vowed to “continue to support the IPU and the United Nation’s efforts to encourage governments to place their trust in international law and promote the primacy of the rule of law.”
Sotto’s recognition of the UN and the IPU’s roles came months after criticizing the two international organs for expressing concern about the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the Duterte administration’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
Sotto highlighted the role of parliaments in adopting international treaties and conventions in each country’s legal systems “so that these may positively and directly impact on the lives and welfare of the very people we represent.”
“By adopting international benchmarks and standards, parliaments have the capacity to enact stronger protections for their citizens especially those who are most vulnerable to abuse and violence,” Sotto said.
He cited the adoption of the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which led to the crafting of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
“As parliamentarians, international law is embedded in our work. Our public stands to benefit from our increased understanding of international law and the better laws we will legislate,” Sotto said.
In October 2018, Sotto was reported to have said the IPU humans rights committee “should be reminded that the Philippines is a sovereign state with a working judicial process.” He also expressed support for the proposal of then-House speaker Gloria Arroyo to withdraw from the IPU.
This was after the IPU committee announced its plan to look into the possible human rights violations against Sen. Leila de Lima and then-Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, both nemeses of President Duterte.
De Lima is currently detained pending trial for allegedly coddling the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons when she was justice secretary. The case was solely based on testimonies by inmates and her disgruntled former subordinates.
Meanwhile, Trillanes’ rebellion charges in connection with the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege were revived after Duterte revoked the amnesty granted by former president Benigno Aquino III.
Last July, Sotto suggested that the Philippines leave the UN after the Human Rights Council approved an Iceland-sponsored resolution seeking to look into the country’s human rights situation. He grumbled about the $8.2-million (roughly P445 million) mandatory contribution paid to the UN last year.
Sotto backed down about Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said “we’re staying in UNHRC as a pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners.”