By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA , Philippines – A human rights organization said the recent election of the Philippine government to the United Nations Human Rights Council does not in any way absolve President Rodrigo Duterte of gross human rights violations amid claims that it goes to show how human rights is respected here.
“The new presidential spokesperson may be over the moon for this supposed ‘affirmation’ of the government’s campaigns and human rights record, but no one is convinced. The victims of this regime are not convinced, human rights organizations and advocates both here and overseas are not convinced, many oppressed sectors are not convinced,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay in a press statement.
In media reports, newly-appointed Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo claimed that this is a “recognition” of the Philippine government’s supposed respect for human rights and that abuses are not tolerated by authorities. Getting a seat in the UN rights body is a “repudiation of the critics and detractors on President Duterte’s unrelenting war against illegal drugs,” he said.
But Palabay clarified that the “election” was made by only 18 pre-selected candidates who will vie for 18 seats.
“Who would have thought the Duterte government needed this much affirmation from the international community after it has repeatedly bashed the UN and its officials for attempts at investigating reports of rights violations in the country? Perhaps, now is the opportune moment for the Duterte government to open its doors for investigation by international bodies,” Palabay said.
Meanwhile, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia found the Philippine government “hypocritical” that while it viciously attack UN bodies and watchdogs for being critical of its bloody human rights record in one breath, it “spins the routinary process of garnering a seat in such bodies and claims it as extraordinary in another breath?”
Relatives of victims of Duterte’s war against drugs have filed charges before the International Criminal Court for the systematic and gross killings that mostly targeted the poor who are allegedly either or both users and peddlers.
Duterte, too, was found guilty by the International People’s Tribunal just last month for the violation of the Filipino people’s civil, political, cultural rights and their right to self-determination.
Palabay said, “we thus call on the UNHRC to pursue its independent investigation to look into human rights violations in the Philippines, amid numerous reports and complaints that have been submitted to the said body. The Duterte government can spin their membership in the UNHRC all they want, but the victims will continue with their quest for justice; no trail of blood left by this murderous regime will be forgotten.”(Reposted by davaotoday.com)