The questions particularly focused on the recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston, who went on a mission to the Philippines in late 2007 to investigate extrajudicial killings and came up with a report specifically pointing to the military’s involvement in these. “In some parts of the country, the armed forces have followed a deliberate strategy of systematically hunting down the leaders of leftist organizations,” Alston, who is also a professor at New York University (NYU), said.
Karapatan has documented 902 cases of extrajudicial killings and 180 enforced disappearances from January 2001 – when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising – to March 2008.
“Canada is encouraged that the Philippine authorities have expressed their commitment to end extrajudicial killings, but remains concerned that there may have been few convictions,” Canada’s Terry Cormier said.
“What is the Philippine government doing to address extrajudicial killings and ensure the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators?” asked Anna Chambers of the U.S. “How is the Philippine government ensuring human rights compliance among the police and security forces?”
Australia’s Jihan Mirza asked for specific updates on the Philippine government’s compliance with Alston’s recommendations.
The Ermita-led delegation was also questioned on the rights of migrant workers, women and children; and the Philippine government’s non-signing of international instruments against torture and enforced disappearances.
In a press statement, the members of the Philippine UPR Watch delegation said of Ermita’s presentation:
“His statement that ‘there is an open and vibrant democracy in the Philippines’ and that the government is “a human rights defender” is the height of distortion and sends a chilling indication that impunity will continue to be the policy of the Arroyo regime.
“Ermita’s statements were a callous disregard to the fact that more than a dozen countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, took the Philippine government to task for its failure to address the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, especially in the prosecution of perpetrators. His statements ignored the fact that several countries also scored the Philippine government for its failure to address equally important issues such as the protection of migrant workers, the trafficking of women and children, and corruption. If the Philippine National Report was that good, the Philippines should be a paradise, whose people need not line up for rice, seek jobs abroad and would not be named one of the most corrupt countries in Asia. If the Report was that honest, countries would not have raised questions on the foregoing which are the core issues surrounding human rights violations in the Philippines.” (Bulatlat.com)