Remove PH as member, group urges UN rights council

Raisa Serafica

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Remove PH as member, group urges UN rights council
'The Philippines has exhibited a total mockery of international human rights mechanisms,' the group Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch says

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines should be removed as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

This was the call of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch, a delegation of Filipinos to the UN. The group is composed of victims of rights violations, ecumenical leaders, and human rights defenders.

In a statement Saturday, September 30, the Philippine UPR Watch criticized the Duterte administration’s moves during the UPR process.

“The Philippines has exhibited a total mockery of international human rights mechanisms, with the government’s blatant distortion of facts on extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in the country, its record of using the UN as a platform to justify its crimes against the Filipino people, and its doubletalk on compliance to human rights instruments,” the Philippine UPR Watch said.

Slated every 4 years, the UPR provides an opportunity for member-states like the Philippines to share actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their respective countries. 

In May, during the Philippines’ 3rd cycle in the UPR, the UN Human Rights Council reviewed the human rights record of the country in the last 4 years, covering the last 4 years of the administration of Benigno Aquino III and the first 9 months of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In the past year, various human rights organizations have repeatedly slammed the Duterte administration for its blatant disregard for human rights. However, the Duterte administration has responded to this criticism by painting human rights defenders as an obstacle to change.

In fact, in May, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano reported to the UNHRC that there is no new wave of killings in the Philippines. He also slammed critics and the media for “changing the meaning” of extrajudicial killings. 

For the Philippine UPR Watch, these are enough reasons for the UN to revoke the membership of Philippines at the UNHRC, “especially as it continues its hardheaded position against any UN investigation on the killing.”

The Philippine UPR Watch also welcomed the statement of the 39 states, led by Iceland, that expressed concerns on extrajudicial killings in relation to the drug war, as well as rights violations against human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, and journalists. 

“The statement disproves the so-called win of the Philippine government at the UNHRC,” Philippine UPR Watch added.

The group also reiterated its call for the international community to guard against the worsening climate of impunity in the country. It then called on states to withdraw financial support, if any, for the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other programs “that abet the human rights violations.”

The Philippines’ first and second UPR cycles took place in April 2008 and May 2012, respectively. During the second cycle in 2012, the UNHRC provided the Philippine government over 50 recommendations to the Philippine government, but not all of these were implemented. – 

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Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.