The European Parliament resolution on the situation of human rights in the Philippines: a strong call for upholding human rights and civil liberties

The Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines (ENJPP) warmly welcomes the resolution on the situation in the Philippines adopted by the European Parliament on 17 September 2020 by a large majority of 626 to 7, with 52 abstentions.

In its resolution the European Parliament expressed its “deepest concern at the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines under Duterte” and called on the Philippine Government to adopt and implement all the recommendations of the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published in June of this year, including an impartial, transparent, independent and meaningful investigations into all extrajudicial killings, including the deaths of Jory Porquia, Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez.

A strong signal of support for rights defenders

The European Parliament expressed strong support for human rights and environmental defenders in the Philippines, firmly condemning the human rights violations perpetrated against them and calling on the Philippine authorities to ensure that rights defenders can carry out their work without fear of reprisals.

It also expressed serious concern about the recently adopted Anti-Terrorism Act, which jeopardizes even further the safety of rights defenders, and pointed out that the exercise of civil and political rights can in no circumstances be considered terrorist acts.

It also calls on the EU delegation and the Member States’ representations in the Philippines to strengthen their support for civil society in their engagement with the Philippine authorities and to provide practical emergency assistance, such as emergency visas and temporary shelter in EU member states where appropriate. This clear declaration of moral and practical support is a welcome and much needed message to all rights defenders, who are subjected to intimidation, harassment and violent attacks because of their work.

Business and trade relations: the Philippine authorities and European businesses must ensure human rights due diligence

The resolution also recommended that, given the serious human rights situation, the European Commission should immediately initiate the procedure that could lead to the temporary withdrawal of the preferential trade benefits that the Philippines currently enjoys in trade with the EU. At the same time, the EU Parliament called on the Philippine authorities to “ensure human rights due diligence in all investment, development and business projects, especially with regard to large scale agribusiness acquisitions, extractive industries and infrastructure projects”. But it also called on companies based in or operating within the EU to strictly comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and observe human rights due diligence in all their business operations in the Philippines.

The ENJPP considers this resolution a further important contribution to the increasing pressure on the part of the international community to condemn the dramatically escalating attacks on human and civil rights in the Philippines and ensure accountability.

Reference: Julie Smit of Luxemburg, ENJPP Secretariat

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