MANILA, Philippines – Rights advocates on Friday, July 12, hit the Philippine government and its delegates to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for their hostile "overreaction" to the resolution seeking actions against rising killings in the country.
The groups noted that the “modest” resolution seeking to review the Philippines' human rights situation did not warrant the aggressive “baseless responses” of the Philippine delegates in the 41st UNHRC session in Geneva.
“Nahihiya ako bilang Pilipina at human rights defender sa pangiinsulto na ginagawa 'nyo sa mga bansa na obligasyon lamang ay itaguyod ang karapatang tao (As a Filipina and a human rights defender, I’m ashamed at the insults you've made against other countries whose only obligation is to uphold human rights),” said Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Secretary General Rose Trajano.
Trajano said that even without the resolution adopted by the council on July 11, “the government should already be doing" the demanded actions: prevent extrajudicial killings, allow independent visits, and come up with a comprehensive human rights report.
“Ano man sabihin ng gobyerno, natalo sila (Whatever the government says, they still lost),” she said.
According to human rights advocates who attended the informal consultation sessions, the Philippine delegation allegedly delivered a lengthy tirade opposing the resolution and accused Iceland of bullying the Philippines
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr had warned the countries that voted for the resolution that "there will be consequences, far-reaching ones."
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) called the entire spectacle a “poor display of diplomacy by the Philippine government.”
iDEFEND spokesperson Judy Pasimio said that based on the Philippine delegates' actions, they were concerned with "the protection of their patron Duterte" and not the country’s sovereignty and people.
Duterte's violent war on drugs has led to at least 6,000 suspected drug personalities killed in police operations. Human rights groups pegged the number to reach more than 20,000 to include those killed vigilante-style. (READ: The Impunity Series)
Malacañang said that the adoption of the resolution went against the sentiment of Filipinos, based on the record-high satisfaction ratings obtained by Duterte in the latest surveys. It also claimed that countries that voted for the resolution were merely "misled" by "continuing and relentless false news."
Wilnor Papa of Amnesty International slammed Malacañang for making the claim, saying that the government should not fear any investigation if wasn't doing anything wrong.
"Sinasabi fake news tayo, sige, papasukin natin sila, sila hahanap noon," Papa said. "Ayaw pumayag ang goberyno na papasukin ang independent experts para imbestigahan ang tunay na sitwasyon. Ano ang tinatago natin?”
(They say we're fake news, okay, let [the UN officials] come here, they will find the information. But our government won't let independent experts come in to investigate for themselves the real situation. What are they hiding?)
As for the countries that voted against the resolution, the human rights groups suspected that this was due to fear of being investigated for human rights abuses as well. (READ: Meet PH’s new friends: U.N.-member countries that voted vs human rights resolution)
“Mayroong mga bansa na natatakot na ma-subject din sa ganitong klaseng resolusyon. Mga bansa na nag-no and nag-abstain ay may mataas din na human rights violations (There are countries that are scared to be subjected to the same kind of resolution. Those who voted no and abstain also have high rates of human rights violations),” Trajano said. – Rappler.com
Micah Avry Guiao is a Rappler intern from the Ateneo de Manila University.