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US congressional delegation hopes Marcos will look into past admin's human rights abuses

A United States congressional delegation on Saturday hoped that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would look into the previous Philippine administration's alleged human rights abuses.

The delegation, led by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, earlier met with Marcos to discuss ties between the two countries.

During their meeting, Markey said the delegation raised concerns over the human rights record under the previous government, adding that they hoped that the President would “set a new tone for the importance of human rights and press freedom.”

“I am pleased to lead the first US congressional delegation to meet with President Marcos Jr. and look forward to the promise of a renewed partnership with the newly elected government,” he said in a statement.

“I expressed to President Marcos my hope that he will turn the page on the human rights abuses of the previous government,” he added.

Markey said the delegation also discussed ways to support the Philippines' transition to renewable energy and efforts to address the climate crisis.

“The US remains a steadfast treaty ally of the Philippines and our people-to-people ties are unmatched,” he said.

GMA News Online had sought comment from Harry Roque and Martin Andanar, both of whom had served as presidential spokespersons during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte, but neither had responded as of posting time.

Comment was also sought from Vice President Sara Duterte, the former President's daughter, but she and her representatives have yet to respond.

Meanwhile, Marcos Administration Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said they might issue a response on the matter on Monday.

Press freedom, human rights

Meanwhile, the delegation also met with the members of the press, including journalists from the news organization Rappler, which was founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, to hear about the government’s campaign to close it down and discuss press freedom and human rights.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it had affirmed its order revoking the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corp. for supposedly violating the foreign ownership restrictions on mass media companies.

“The courage we have seen from the members of the Philippine press in speaking truth to power is inspiring. A free and independent press is the bedrock of any democracy,” Markey said.

They also visited former Senator Leila De Lima on Friday at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

“For too long, Senator Leila de Lima has been held on politically motivated charges. Despite this, her spirit remains undiminished. I call on the new government to release her and drop all charges without delay,” Markey said.

Markey and other senators, both Republican and Democrat, including Marco Rubio, Dick Durbin, Marsha Blackburn, Chris Coons, and Patrick Leahy, called for De Lima's exoneration after a case against her was dropped and after some key witnesses recanted their allegations against her.

The delegation earlier visited Taiwan—a move that prompted China to organize fresh military drills around the island, which it had been carrying out during and since US Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit earlier this month. — DVM, GMA News