Posting and sharing this presentation of the Philippine reality on Human Rights Situation taken from a document of the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines – ECUVOICE and the Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch – UPRWatch.
On July 5, 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) adopted a resolution drafted by Iceland on the human rights situation in the Philippines.
The resolution expressed concern “…at the allegations of human rights violations in the Philippines, particularly those involving killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, the intimidation and persecution of or violence against members of civil society, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, journalists, lawyers and members of the political opposition, and restrictions on the freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association”.
The resolution also highlighted that since mid-2016, when the campaign against illegal drugs was announced in the Philippines, “…there have been allegations of the killing of thousands of people allegedly involved in the drug trade and drug use.”
In the said Iceland-led resolution, which was voted for adoption by 18 States and supported by 23 other States including the majority of the European Union members and Belgium, the UN HRC resolved the following:
1. Urges the Government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, and to carry out impartial investigations to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with due process and the rule of law;
2. Calls upon the Government of the Philippines to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and the mandates of the Human Rights Council, including by facilitating visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation;
3. Requests the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in the Philippines and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-fourth session, to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue.
The said resolution is a welcome move from the international rights body. It is a comforting reassurance and a ray of hope, especially for the victims’ families, that many countries continue to be vigilant on the human rights situation in the Philippines that is turning for the worse each day.
The said resolution was also passed even though the government of President Duterte sent a delegation to the UN HRC and UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance and to the European Parliament and Commission in February 2019. The said delegation asked for the delisting of cases of disappeared persons, and blatantly vilified human rights organizations while at the same time denying the country’s bloody human rights record. The Philippine government’s disdain for international scrutiny, however, has been shown during the course of the administration’s diplomats campaigning prior to the adoption of the UN HRC resolution and after it has been adopted. Government officials have expressed non-cooperation with the UN HRC, up to the point of mulling the Philippine government’s resignation from the Council, the cutting of diplomatic ties against Iceland and the prevention of entry of UN investigators in the country.
On a final note, however, even if the incumbent occupant in Malacañan will not cooperate with the international rights bodies the human rights defenders will not stop fighting for the respect of human and people’s rights towards peace based on justice.