UN urged not to renew Philippines’s membership to rights council

May. 11, 2007

MANILA — The Philippine human rights organization KARAPATAN, joins the families of victims of human rights violations and concerned Filipinos in urging the United Nations to set up a special tribunal to hear the cases of extrajudicial executions, disappearances and other human rights violations committed by the Arroyo regime against the Filipino people.

Karapatan has, on several occasions, filed cases of human rights violations as well as presented shadow reports on the real human rights situation in the country before the UN treaty bodies and special mechanisms. The most recent efforts are the presentation of cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Prof. Philip

Alston, in February 2007.

But the Arroyo regime continues to turn deaf ears to the findings and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur as well as other local and international human rights organizations in bringing an end to the spate of summary executions and disappearances in the country. The Philippine Mission representatives in fact have lied to the Human Rights Council by saying that disappearances in the Philippines have been committed only during the Marcos dictatorship but not under the Arroyo regime!

The current call for a creation of a tribunal by the UN will be an added boost to our campaign to bring to the attention of the UN these grave concerns to put an end to the continuing killings, disappearances and other human rights violations as well as to serve justice to the many victims of this regime.

What is ironic is, in the midst of all the intensifying human rights violations currently happening, the Arroyo government has still the gall to apply for an extension of its membership with the UN Human Rights Council which will be heard on May 17, 2007. Today, as we join this call for a creation of a tribunal, we also urge various groups to lobby with the UNHRC not to renew the Philippine government’s application of its membership to the UN body tasked to oversee states’ compliance to human rights treaties and covenants.

With its dreadful record of 858 victims of summary executions and 198 victims of disappearances since it assumed the presidency in 2001 up to the present, the Arroyo regime has no moral ground to renew its membership, let alone be a member of the UNHRC.

Recent cases, reported to our organization and in the media reveal that there is no let up in the violation of people’s rights

the abduction and disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of Press Freedom icon Jose Burgos, on April 28, 2007

the massacre of peasants – Bobby Quilo, 20 ; Richard Sarillo, 28; Benjamin Gelongga, 72, all from Negros Occidental, by elements of the armed forces of the Philippines.

the failed assassination of peasant leader Orly Marcellana in Cabuyao, Laguna only yesterday, May 10, 2007

to mention a few.

What the present regime has accomplished is to worsen the human rights situation and has currently nothing respectable to show off as regards its compliance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights instruments it is a signatory of.

The Philippine government has done nothing to honor its pledges made before the UN when it sought membership in the Human Rights Council a year ago. It has in fact a bloody and appalling human rights record and has worsened the human rights situation in the country by the series of killings, disappearances and other human rights violations as well as implementing laws and measures like the CPR, EO 464, EO 546, BP 880 and signing into law the anti-terrorism act deodorized as Human Security Act of 2007, and waging a counter-insurgency war such as the Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2 which victimizes more civilians.

Thus, we call on the United Nations to reject the Philippine government’s bid to renew its membership in the Human Rights Council. Doing so would be tolerating a grave human rights violator and allow the continuous suffering of the Filipino people.

Justice to victims of human rights violations!

Surface the disappeared victims!

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