GENEVA, Switzerland–A protestant church worker revealed continuing human rights violations in the Philippines under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government at the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) in this city.
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) program secretary for Faith, Witness and Service Mervin Sol Toquero reported before the international body that there had been 223 drug-related killings since July 2022, the start of the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration.
“There is very minimal accountability for perpetrators since the time of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Toquero said.
Toquero said they are alarmed that human rights defenders, including church people and humanitarian workers, are also targeted under the country’s anti-terrorism and related laws.
He cited the case of United Methodist Church minister Glofie Baluntong who had been “falsely accused” of attempted murder as well as charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
He also mentioned the case of NCCP staff member and land and environment defender Peti Enriquez who has been charged for alleged violations of the International Humanitarian Law.
The Philippine government mission was absent at the Council session when Toquero spoke,
Toquero appealed to the UNHRC to call on the Philippine government to enact the Human Rights Defenders Bill pending before the Philippine Congress.
The Human Rights Committee of the House of Representatives has recently approved the measure for the third time in two decades but is yet to be approved by its plenary and the Senate.
Toquero also asked the UN to call on the Philippine government to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act “as it endangers human rights defenders.”
“Relatedly, we ask this Council to continue urging the Philippine Government to cooperate with the ICC (International Criminal Court) as this would provide viable accountability mechanisms and combat impunity,” Toquero said.
The Philippine UPR Watch is participating in the ongoing 52nd Regular Session of the UN HRC’s adoptions of the recommendations made during the 4th UPR on the Philippines last November.
The Philippine government is expected to accept 215 of the 289 recommendations by UN member states, choosing however to reject substantial proposals such as rejoining the International Criminal Court, putting a stop to red-tagging and repeal of laws that are “weaponized” against rights defenders, church workers, journalists such as the Anti-Terrorism Act and Libel/Cyber-Libel.
The NCCP is a co-convenor of the Philippine UPR Watch. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)