DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) member-states to support the move of the Iceland government on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines during the council’s 41st session.
The said resolution, forwarded during the Council’s 41st session, expressed the many concerns on reported cases of extrajudicial 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, members of the political opposition, and restrictions on the freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association.
The resolution was supported by 28 states, urging for further action on the reported rights violations in the country.
“We welcome the proposed resolution by Iceland and urge other UNHRC member-states to vote for its adoption. Halfway into the Duterte government’s term, extrajudicial killings have worsened within the regime’s repressive anti-narcotics drive and counterinsurgency campaign. 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,” said Palabay, who is currently monitoring the HRC sessions in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to Palabay, it is lamentable that the Philippine government continues to reinforce the structure of impunity in the country and subverts the law to legitimize repression and violations on human rights, as it evades any attempts at exacting accountability while berating and attacking human rights defenders for exposing its crimes.
Before the resolution will be presented to the Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner will prepare a comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue.
Following Iceland’s move, Karapatan said it is already wary of possible turns by the government and its spokespersons. The group pressed that attempts to equate support for independent investigations is equal to support for the proliferation of illegal drugs as “gross misrepresentation and a deliberate attempt to twist the intentions of human rights advocates and civil society.”
“On the contrary, we are speaking out and pushing for policies that take into account the socio-economic conditions of Filipinos and considers their rights, instead of slaughtering them and coldly justifying their deaths,” Palabay said.
“Militarist policies do not curb criminality, but instead aggravate human rights violations. We have seen this proven time and again under various presidencies. It is time for accountability, justice, and an overhaul of policy, perspective, and direction. We call on UNHRC member states to support the resolution,” Palabay added.
No need to help
Meanwhile, the Malacañang rejected the call for the intervention of the UNHRC to probe the cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in President Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is no need for the UNHRC to help, claiming that local rights organizations and agencies are there to assist.
“Let our own group assist our own Filipinos. We don’t need them. We have a battery of human rights activists in this country. We don’t need interference from any other human rights group,” Panelo said in a press briefing on Monday, July 9.
The Amnesty International (AI), an international human rights group, also urged the UNHRC to immediately open an investigation into “gross human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed as part of the ‘war on drugs’”.
The group also released their latest report, They just kill’: Ongoing extrajudicial executions and other violations in the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs,’ showing that victims of the drug-related killings were mostly from marginalized communities.
“Three years on, President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ continues to be nothing but a large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia.
Among their recommendations, AI called on President Duterte to put an end to the so-called “war on drugs”, and instead, implement a drug control policy “that puts the protection of people’s health and rights at the centre, in compliance with international human rights law and standards.”
But Panelo slammed AI for “politicizing” the drug killings in the country.
“Obviously, it is biased because they kept on saying that we have 27,000 deaths. That is not true. We’ve been asking them to show us. You give us the figures and show us the facts and the circumstances surrounding all these 27,000 deaths. Who are these people? Under what circumstances have they been murdered,” Panelo said.
Panelo defended that the number of deaths were result of legitimate police operations.
He encouraged the families of the victims to file a case against the policemen or its agencies if they felt that violations happened during operations, saying that it’s the President’s order not to tolerate police abuse. — with reports from Ken E. Cagula (davaotoday.com)