EU Parliament condemns rights abuses in PH

In its resolution, the EU condemned all threats, harassment, intimidation and violence against those seeking to expose allegations of extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the country.


MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan welcomed the recent adoption of the European Parliament resolution renewing its condemnation of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations against human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, church and humanitarian workers in the country.

The resolution was adopted on Feb. 17.

“We thank the 627 out of the 705 Members of the European Parliament, especially the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Human Rights Marie Arena, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Hannah Neumann, Svenja Hahn, Javi López, Seán Kelly, Ji?í Pospíšil, Evin Incir, Soraya Rodriguez, Ryszard Czarnecki, Ernest Urtasun, and Heidi Hautala, for their support and relevant interventions during the plenary debates on the resolution,” the group said in a statement.

In its resolution, the EU condemned all threats, harassment, intimidation and violence against those seeking to expose allegations of extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the country.

They also denounced the government’s practice of red-tagging of activists, journalists and critics and called for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) who is in charge of the red-tagging, the resolution added.

They called on the authorities to end red-tagging of organizations and individuals, including human rights and environmental defenders, journalists, trade union activists and church and humanitarian workers and asked the Philippine government to release and drop all politically motivated charges against all detained human rights defenders, political dissidents and journalists.

The EU Parliament also called on the Philippine authorities to “immediately carry out impartial, transparent, independent and meaningful investigations into all extrajudicial killings, including the cases of Jory Porquia, Randall ‘Randy’ Echanis and Zara Alvarez, as well as into the enforced disappearance and death of Elena Tijamo, and into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, with a view to prosecuting the perpetrators.”

They said that authorities of the Philippines should “ensure investigations into and prosecutions of all senior police and politicians where there is reasonable suspicion that they have direct and/or command or superior responsibility for crimes under international law and other serious violations and abuses of human rights.”

With these, the Parliament called for an end to the persecution of Maria Ressa, Frenchie Mae Cumpio and all other independent journalists. They said that authorities should “respect the right to freedom of expression, and to ensure that journalists can do their work without fear.”

The resolution also asked that political harassment against Senator Leila De Lima should end. For this they said that Philippine authorities should order her immediate and unconditional release, and “to prosecute in fair trials those found to be responsible for her arbitrary detention and other human rights violations committed against her, such as gender-based attacks and violations of her right to due process.”

The EU Parliament then called on EU Member States “to refrain from all exports of arms, surveillance technology and other equipment that can be used for internal repression by the Philippine authorities.”

They expressed their fears that during the campaign period and on election day, political rights – online and offline – will be further violated and restricted. With this, they called “on all candidates to refrain from using disinformation campaigns and troll armies, and to commit to fair and fact-based campaigning, thus preventing further divisions in Philippine society and politics.”

They said that authorities should “closely cooperate with social media companies to prevent manipulation, spamming and all other attempts to debase public discourse.”

They also call authorities to “step up efforts to ensure fair and free elections and a non-toxic environment for on- and offline campaigning.”

The Parliament said that Philippine authorities have not invited them to conduct an election observation mission, still they are pushing for the Philippine government “to ensure a safe, free and fair electoral campaign and to take measures to ensure access for all to electoral resources.”

They also call on the EU Delegation and EU Member States’ representations “to give their full support to independent local election observers, to regularly meet with them and to closely follow up on any incidents reported during the election campaign, including by addressing these concerns directly with the Philippine authorities.”

European Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala said that the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus is currently up for a review and will end in 2023. To consider the Philippines’ reapplication, she said, the EU should see a “steep positive curb” on the human rights situation in the country.

The Philippines is a beneficiary country under the GSP+ where 0% of tariff is given to low and lower-middle income countries. The EU said that in 2020, 26 % of total Philippine exports to the EU (EUR 1.6 billion) enjoyed preferential treatment under this scheme. But under this scheme, the Philippines also had to implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labor rights, environmental protection and good governance.

With this support coming from the EU Parliament, Karapatan emphasizes “the need for continuing solidarity for the Filipino people in quest for justice and accountability.”

“Such forms of support are most needed as we contend with the dire lack of effective domestic mechanisms that can truly render justice for the victims of human rights violations in the country and as anti-democratic forces poise to continue the fascist policies of the Duterte regime and restore the family of the dictator Marcos back into power through the 2022 elections,” the group said in a statement. (RTS, RVO)


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