Groups tell UN: PH human rights situation in crisis

The human rights situation in the country has since spiraled into a crisis a decade since the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) conducted a review on the Philippines in 2012, human rights organizations revealed.

In a joint report to the international treaty body, Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said they documented and witnessed gross violations on the right to life and civil liberties of Filipinos as well as deeper and pervasive climate of impunity in the country.

They also told the UNHRC about the lack of effective domestic mechanisms for redress and accountability as well as the ongoing constriction of civic and democratic spaces.

The groups submitted an alternative report to the UNHRC weeks before the Philippines undergoes a fifth periodic review on its compliance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva, Switzerland in October.

Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said the Philippine government failed to meet its obligations to core international human rights instruments such as the ICCPR under the Benigno Aquino and Rodrigo Duterte administrations.

The groups cited that the Philippine government failed to make soldiers and police accused of killing activists accountable as it failed to stop enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations against citizens.

The alternative report also included complaints of how the Philippine government refused to protect human rights defenders but has persecuted them instead.

Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said that UNHRC’s many recommendations to the Philippine government in its past four periodic reviews on the country have gone unheeded.


Impunity likely to continue under Marcos

In their 29-page report, the groups also expressed fears that impunity seems likely to continue under the new Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government because of his family’s refusal to acknowledge “acts of gross human rights violations and massive corruption” under the Marcos Sr. regime.

The failure of succeeding governments to make the Marcoses fully accountable impedes efforts towards truth and justice, Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said.

“Marcos Jr.’s recent defense of his dictator-father’s martial law glosses over their family’s rapacious intent to monopolize political power and prolong their rule by suppressing political dissent and pocketing billions from the nation’s coffers. Clearly, Marcos Jr.’s presidency seeks to erase all the crimes of the Marcoses against the Filipino people, to enable them to keep their massive loot from public funds, and to further their political ambitions,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, reacting to Marcos Jr.’s recent interview defending his father’s imposition of martial law.

 “Marcos Jr. continues the draconian and repressive policies of the Duterte administration, wielding and foisting the anti-terror law and other repressive policies against those who uphold and defend human and people’s rights,” Palabay added.

Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi announced their participation to the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Universal Periodic Review in the next two months that will scrutinize the Philippine government’s human rights record. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)