By Lance Arevada

PHOTO: Manila Bulletin

Malacañang on Monday has dismissed the calls of Democratic senators from the United States for US President Joe Biden to denounce systemic human rights violations allegedly committed by the Philippine government, saying that it is up to Biden to act on these pleas.

This is in response to a letter written by 10 American senators led by Senator Edward Markey to condemn the abuses committed by the Duterte government “at the highest levels” and “stand with the people of the Philippines as they continue to fight for their universal human rights.”

“We leave that decision to President Joe Biden. Amerikano po ‘yan. In that same way na ayaw natin mayroong nanghihimasok sa gawain ng Kongreso ng Pilipinas, hindi po natin sila paghihimasukan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.

Roque also noted that these were merely personal views of the senators who signed and forwarded the letter to the US State Department.

“Yan naman ay po personal na mga pananaw ng sampung senador na Amerikano. Bahala na sila kung anong gagawin nila,” he added.

In the letter addressed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken dated July 26, the senators pressed the Biden administration to condemn a “continuing pattern” of human rights violations and President Rodrigo Duterte’s fresh attacks on the press, civil society groups, and human rights defenders.

"The State Department should condemn the aforementioned abuses at the highest levels in our diplomatic engagements with Philippine government representatives, as well as publicly,” they said.

The senators also posed a series of questions to Blinken on what actions his department has done to address the said violations in the country, and if these have been considered on the ongoing evaluation of security assistance and arms sales of the United States to the Philippines as well as in imposing sanctions on top Philippine government officials involved.

The Palace’s response to the letter comes as Duterte and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin just met in a courtesy call last week, eventually resulting in the President aborting his plans to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries.

Report source: PCOO