Exiled Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, MP and opposition parliamentarian Saumura Tioulong were warmly received in the Philippine Senate yesterday, 12 September 2012. The Cambodian parliamentarians were given designated seats at the VIP area of the plenary session hall, and were officially recognized by the Senate Majority Floor Leader. The Senate President even went out of his way to greet the distinguished guests.
MP Sam and MP Tioulong were in the Philippines to gather support from Filipino Senators and Members of Congress for the International Parliamentary Committee for Democratic Elections in Cambodia (IPCDEC). IPCDEC, chaired by Philippine Senator Franklin Drilon, was officially launched in Manila last 10 September 2012. It is a group of like-minded parliamentarians expressing their solidarity to promote full and inclusive democracy in Cambodia. Its members come from all parts of the globe, from Europe to Asia-Pacific.
The Cambodian parliamentarians went to the Philippine Senate yesterday to pay a courtesy call to Senator Drilon and Senator Francis Pangilinan, liberal colleagues and friends from the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD). The Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP), where Senator Drilon and Senator Pangilinan belong, and the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) of MP Sam and MP Tioulong, are both members of CALD.
Earlier that day, the Cambodian guests also met another LP stalwart, Deputy Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives Erin Tanada.
During the meeting with Senator Drilon, the next activities of IPCDEC were discussed, particularly the committee’s participation in the 58th Liberal International (LI) Congress in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire, as well as in the 127th International Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Quebec City, Canada. “We will make use of these gatherings to raise awareness on the state of democracy and human rights in Cambodia”, said Senator Drilon.
The IPU Assembly was also brought up in the discussion with Senator Pangilinan, who pointed out that the IPU has taken cognizance on MP Sam’s case in a number of resolutions in the past. Senator Drilon is a Member of IPU’s Executive Committee, while Senator Pangilinan sits in the body’s Human Rights Committee.
The Philippine Senate visit of the Cambodian parliamentarians also included a courtesy call with the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Loren Legarda. Senator Legarda promised that she would help in any way she can to draw attention to the dismal state of elections in Cambodia.
“We look up to the Philippines as a model of democracy, and we are very pleased that we are gathering overwhelming support to our cause from our Filipino parliamentary colleagues and friends”, said MP Sam. “The support gives me great strength and confidence to continue our struggle for a better and more democratic Cambodia.”
This post was written by CALD