Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcome of PHL

By Reynard Magtoto

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) adopted Friday the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano immediately welcomed the final adoption of the Third Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report by the 47-member body.

“The final adoption of our UPR Report during the 36th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva demonstrates that the Philippines has nothing to hide with its human rights record,” Secretary Cayetano said in a statement from New York where he is attending the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.

According to Cayetano, the Philippines will remain resolute in its respect for and protection of human rights as well as its commitment on its human rights obligations in compliance with the Constitution and international human rights obligations.

Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Evan Garcia, said the Philippines had sufficiently explained that deaths which occurred in the course of the implementation of the anti-illegal drug campaign were not extrajudicial killings.

“The State clarified that concerns on the re-imposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility had been subject to deliberations in the Philippines Congress, which included comprehensive consultations,” Garcia stated.

Ambassador Garcia pointed out that after a careful review and inclusive consultation with inputs from various stakeholders, especially from representatives from the State’s executive, legislative, and judicial departments was done, the Philippines committed to fully accept 103 out of the 257 recommendations it received.

The Philippines noted a total of 154 recommendations anchored on the State’s national circumstances. Among those, there were 99 that the State accepted in principle and could have partially supported because they were very much aligned with the aspirations of the Government to enhance the human rights governance framework in the Philippines.

Ambassador Garcia explained that Philippines could only note the other 154 recommendations because the country cannot guarantee or commit at this time to their fruition given that the results of processes required to implement them are beyond the sole control of any of the branches of the government.

“This is specifically true for recommendations that pertain to legislative action, which would require consultative processes with stakeholders”, he said.

Also, in the set of 99 recommendations were those perceived to insinuate that the State had not taken any action whatsoever on the concerns raised. Full acceptance would denigrate the State’s current serious efforts that already addressed the issues raised.

The rest of the recommendations that were fully accepted were those that would strengthen international cooperation with human rights mechanisms for the protection of the most vulnerable sectors in Philippine society and the formulation of the national human rights action plan.
Forty-two (42) States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 States each. The third cycle of the UPR will cover all UN Member States and run until 2021.

The Philippines was one of the first 47 members of the then newly created HRC in 2006. The Philippines is currently serving its 4th term as member in the Human Rights Council. ( Image from UN HRC)

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