“It is a big step in stride with other parallel measures and contemporaneous efforts that merits the full support of an intergovernmental body that is mandated to ensure the promotion, protection and respect for human rights at the global level.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan welcomes the draft resolution of Iceland asking member-states to look into the human rights situation in the Philippines.
The resolution of Iceland was tabled on July 4 by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during its 41st session in Geneva, Switzerland. The UNHRC member-states will be voting on the said resolution on or before July 12.
“We welcome the proposed resolution by Iceland and urge other UN HRC member-states to vote for its adoption,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, who is currently monitoring the HRC sessions in Geneva, Switzerland together with other representatives of cause-oriented groups in the Philippines.
The draft resolution reaffirms “the primary responsibility of States to respect, protect and fulfill all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to fulfill their obligations under human rights treaties and agreements to which they are parties.”
The draft resolution also expressed concern on the reports of rights violations in the Philippines, “particularly those involving killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, 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.”
Palabay said extrajudicial killings related to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs and counterinsurgency have worsened halfway into President Duterte’s administration.
“While there are ongoing efforts to investigate these violations in the domestic front, the adoption of this resolution should jolt this government into remembering all the human rights obligations and treaties that it is mandated to uphold,” she added.
‘Highly significant international initiative’
The Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch said the draft resolution is a “highly significant international initiative.”
“It is a big step in stride with other parallel measures and contemporaneous efforts that merits the full support of an intergovernmental body that is mandated to ensure the promotion, protection and respect for human rights at the global level,” the Philippine UPR Watch said in a statement.
“We likewise appreciate all other current diplomatic initiatives that express concern on the dire situation in the Philippines,” they added.
The Philippine UPR Watch is composed of human rights defenders from Karapatan, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, National Council of Churches of the Philippines and Iglesia Filipina Independiente. They conduct lobbying efforts and advocacy activities on the current human rights situation in the Philippines during the current session of the UNHRC in Geneva.
“Despite desperate efforts of the Duterte administration to package its violations as worthy of praise and emulation, the evolution of the firm resolution emphasized the futility of attempts to evade accountability on the human rights violations committed by State actors and the international community’s acknowledgement of the grave human rights situation in the Philippines,” the Philippine UPR Watch said.
Meanwhile in the Philippines, the Duterte government asserts it that “respects human rights.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo described the draft resolution as “interference with the country’s sovereignty.”
Palabay said Panelo’s concept of sovereignty is ironic. She said sovereignty is not an excuse to helplessly kill its own people and deny investigations after reports of violations were exposed. She pointed out that the international community has a right and duty, to act when crimes against humanity are being relentlessly committed by institutions mandated to uphold and protect human rights.
“We are tired of these excuses and malicious lies peddled by State forces to divert attention, scapegoat, deny accountability, or altogether hamper investigations,” Palabay said.
According to Palabay, human violations under Duterte administration are escalating. As of March 2019, there have been 145 human rights defenders killed. Since 2001, Karapatan has lost 60 of their colleagues in the line of duty; this includes the recent killing of their colleagues in Sorsogon namely Ryan Hubilla, 22, and Nelly Bagasala, 69, on June 15.
The drug- related killings on the other hand, based on media reports, have gone to 29,000 to which the Philippine National Police (PNP) categorized as death under investigation. The PNP claims that only 3,062 or about 9.47 percent of the said cases are related to illegal drugs.