By Reynard Magtoto
PH representatives have banked on its euphemistic and bloated report that fails to reflect, and even intentionally subverts, the human rights situation on the ground according to Karapatan, member of Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) released a statement, September 23, alluding to a so-called ‘victory’ by the PH Government after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) adopted its human rights report card.
In DFA statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the final adoption of the UPR Report during the 36th Regular Session of the UN HRC in Geneva demonstrates that the Philippines has nothing to hide with its human rights record.
Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Evan 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.
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.
“The PH government delegation to Geneva conveniently glosses over the fact that it did not accept any of the 44 recommendations related to extrajudicial killings, none of the 23 recommendations calling for the government to discontinue efforts to revive death penalty, and none of the 13 recommendations aimed at the protecting and creating an enabling environment for human rights defenders and journalists. This are key recommendations that need urgent attention, and yet are furtively brushed off by the Duterte administration,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
During the Philippines Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Adoption Session, Ambassador Garcia said that there is no impunity in the country, that investigations are ongoing for all cases of alleged EJKs, and that the interventions are an example of the so-called ‘vibrant democracy’ in the country.
Karapatan pressed that the Duterte regime and its representatives are shameless in using such a platform to promote distorted facts.
“This has been a farcical display of fraudulence, overbearance, and outright misrepresentation of the situation. Interventions by civil society in the UPR were made because colleagues are being killed or are being harassed. This is not indicative of a vibrant democracy, but of a government who incessantly believes in the rightness of its militarist, fascist, and tyrannical ways,” Palabay said.
Karapatan also cited the recent 2017 Global Impunity Index released by Universidad de las Americas or UNDAP, naming the Philippines as the country with the highest level of impunity among 69 countries.
“There is very little to recognize in the Duterte regime’s human rights record, save for the increasing political repression, State fascism, and impunity among State forces.
According to Palabay, rhetoric cannot compensate for the rising death toll, the swelling protests, the rage of the oppressed and repressed people who have been deprived of their basic human rights.
“The people’s actions and protests exposes this revolting circus of lies, and remain as proof that the human rights situation in the country is not a “victory,” she concluded.
UN States key recommendations
During the the 2017 UPR on the Philippines, July 2017, a total of 103 State parties forwarded at least 257 recommendations to the Philippine government.
Key recommendations by States include the following:
1.At least thirty-four (34) States raised concerns on the continuing extrajudicial killings in the country and reminded the Philippine government to ensure prosecution and accountability of perpetrators. Eight (8) States called for an end to extrajudicial killings in line with the Duterte administration’s campaign against crime and drugs.
2.Fourteen (14) States expressed concern that enforced disappearances continue, with nine (9) States calling for the Philippines’ ratification and implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
3.Twelve (12) States recommended the end of the practice of torture, while three (3) States called for an end to illegal arrests and detention perpetrated by State security forces.
4.Fourteen (14) States recommended that human rights be upheld in the fightagainst drugs, while two States called for end of torture in line with war against drugs. At least five (5) States called for comprehensive andhuman centered approaches for its anti-illegal drug policy, particularly the provision of appropriate health measures, rehabilitation and reintegration of drug users and by addressing the root cause of illegal drugs through development.
5.Eleven (11) States raised concerns on the attacks against human rights defenders and called for the protection of their rights. Slovakia particularly recommended that the Philippine government stop the implementation ofcounter-insurgency programmes that target humanrights defenders and civilians. Meanwhile, eight (8) States called on the Philippine government to protect freedom of opinion and belief, and to promote media freedom and the rights of journalists.
6.Twenty-one (21) States appealed against the reinstitution of the death penalty or capital punishment, while ten (10) States raised concerns on proposed legislation and policies lowering the minimum age for criminal accountability.
7.Eight States called for the reduction of poverty in the country. Seventeen (17) States raised concerns on continuing human trafficking, while four States called for protection of migrants’ rights.
8.Seventeen (17) States recommended to the Philippine government to ensure laws, policies and programs on women’s rights and that these conform to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and to put an end to violence against women. Five (5) States called for the promotion and respect for sexual and reproductive rights.
9.Twenty-four (24) States called on the Philippines to respect the rights of children against sexual abuse, their right to education and against all forms of violence.
10.Five (5) States recommended the promotion and respect of indigenous people’s rights, with Peru calling on the Philippine government to take necessary measures to preserve the ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples.
11.Three (3) States called on the Philippine government to take steps to meet the minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners, including the provision of separate cells for children and improvement of detention facilities against overcrowding.
12.Two States called for the invitation of all Special Procedures with pending requests, while eight States recommended for the invitation of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings. (BaretangBikolnon.com/Featured image from DFA)