Despite its shortcomings, the resolution remains “among the indications of the international community’s acknowledgement of and persisting scrutiny on the human rights crisis” under the Duterte administration.
By JONAS ALPASAN
MANILA – The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the tabled resolution on the Philippines during its 45th regular session, which practically spares the Duterte administration from an international investigation into alleged human rights violations.
In a statement, the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, along with its partner organizations, acknowledged the adoption of the UNHRC of the resolution but pointed out that “prosecution and punishment of perpetrators of human rights violations, especially those committed by the highest officials in government, and thoroughgoing and immediate review, amendment, changes and/or repeal of policies instituted in law and practice by the Philippine government are among the crucial indicators in addressing the strong and persistent demands for justice and accountability.”
The UNHRC resolution essentially recognizes the Duterte administration’s domestic remedies, and promotes technical cooperation and capacity-building for the protection of human rights. EcuVoice said these “would not decisively curb the worsening human rights situation in the country.”
Last year, the UNHRC adopted the Iceland-led resolution, calling for a probe on the increasing cases of rights abuses under the Duterte administration. However, no UN special rapporteurs were allowed to conduct independent investigations. Since then, human rights violations persisted, including the recent brutal killings of peace consultant Randall Echanis and Bacolod-based activist Zara Alvarez.
EcuVoice noted that the recently-adopted resolution of the UNHRC did not seem to take into consideration the “damning report” of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the human rights situation in the Philippines. In her report released in June this year, Bachelet noted the “absence of clear and measurable outcomes from domestic mechanisms” to ensure the protection of human rights, and thus, strongly recommended “options for international accountability measures.”
Despite its shortcomings, the resolution remains “among the indications of the international community’s acknowledgement of and persisting scrutiny on the human rights crisis” under the Duterte administration. Human rights advocates said they will continue to engage the UNHRC and other UN mechanisms to “to pursue justice for the victims of the State’s abandonment and disrespect of human rights and civil liberties in the Philippines.”
“It is likewise proof that the Duterte administration, despite its posturing and rhetoric, caved in to domestic and international pressure for justice and accountability,” the group said.
The human rights situation in the country has merited the attention of the UN Special Procedures, and even measures such as the filing of a resolution before the European Commission to temporarily withdraw trade perks of the Philippines, and the proposal of U.S. legislators to stop the ongoing military and police support.