Tuesday, 15 November 2022
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) deeply appreciates the support of States to the recommendations of iDEFEND and other CSOs in this year’s universal periodic review of the Philippines. These recommendations were raised before the government in today’s Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council.
Among the key concerns raised by States are the ongoing war on drugs and its attendant extrajudicial killings, widespread impunity for human rights violations by state forces, lack of access to justice and accountability mechanisms. States recommended that the Philippines return to, and fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court and its ongoing process on the Philippine situation, end the war on drugs, provide crucial support and protection for human rights defenders and prosecute perpetrators of human rights atrocities. States also recommended that the Philippine government refrain from reintroducing the death penalty, review the Anti-Terrorism Law, stop the practice of red tagging and ensure the protection of journalists and vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples and environmental defenders from attacks and intimidation.
In a side event organized earlier at the UN Headquarters, human rights organizations including iDEFEND lamented the government’s lack of support for many recommendations of the last UPR cycle. They said neglect of these recommendations further weakened accountability systems and the rule of law in the country.
Although the government’s response assured that there will be no attempt to return to capital punishment, they were largely silent on calls to revoke the existing policies implementing the war on drugs and comply with state obligations to protect human rights defenders. DOJ Secretary Boying Remulla repeatedly claimed that human rights policies of the Marcos Jr. administration are being consulted with CSOs but these are completely false. In fact government actively undermines CSO participation in the technical working groups of the UN Joint Programme. Remulla also touts of “justice in real time”, despite the non-action on the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture.
iDefend is encouraged that the member states saw through the lies of the Philippine government propaganda team led by DOJ Secretary Remulla. They know as well, that the Philippine human rights situation has worsened. We urge the government to recognize the need to seriously consider and comply with the recommendations in order to improve the human rights situation in the country. We challenge the government, which has repeatedly expressed its commitment to human rights protection, to ‘walk the talk’, support the UPR recommendations, work with human rights civil society instead of treating them as enemies, and begin the crucial task of national recovery by abandoning Duterte’s traumatic war on drugs and war on terror.