On the Philippine government’s statements at the UNHRC and the Marcos-Duterte admin’s human rights coordinating council

KARAPATAN takes exception to statements by Philippine government representatives at the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland regarding the supposed reforms that it has undertaken to uphold human rights and its plans to establish a human rights coordinating council.

If it isn’t crass hypocrisy, it is plain and simple window-dressing. The facts on the human rights situation and lived experiences of victims of violations belie the existence of a “better human rights situation,” of “strong domestic redress mechanisms,” and of a “vibrant democracy.”

Drug war killings continue, with the University of the Philippine’s Dahas project recording 565 drug-related killings under the current administration. Convictions of police perpetrators during the previous Duterte administration are a drop in the bucket while masterminds such as Duterte and his cohorts remain unscathed—which is why victims’ families have continuously looked to the International Criminal Court for redress.

KARAPATAN has documented 89 individuals killed in the Marcos-Duterte administration’s counter-insurgency program, 13 victims of enforced disappearance, 329 illegal arrests, 22,391 individuals affected by bombings, 24,670 who forcibly evacuated due to military operations, and thousands of victims of red-tagging and threats, alongside numerous violations of international humanitarian law. Its implementation of the draconian counter-terrorism laws have netted 91 victims who are facing trumped-up complaints and charges. There are currently 785 political prisoners, 89 of them arrested under the current administration.

The poor majority are plagued with high prices of basic commodities, low wages, high unemployment, dehumanizing workplace conditions, and landlessness.

The UN Joint Programme, launched instead of a UN Human Rights Council-led independent investigation, has undertaken activities but failed to address the long-overdue need and clamor for full accountability of perpetrators of human rights violations and an end to these attacks. The programme had low and weak baseline indicators, weak policy reform work, no visible substantial results in investigations, prosecutions and convictions of human rights violations perpetrators, and limited meaningful participation of civil society.

The creation of a human rights coordinating council under a Marcos-Duterte administration is nothing more than a public relations stunt–one that pursues the government’s goal of sweeping human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law under the rug, so that it could look good before the international community and achieve its objective of securing a seat at the UN Security Council,

With these, we believe that the need for a UNHRC-led independent investigation on the human rights situation in the Philippines is more pronounced than ever. There is also a need to monitor the initial recommendations of the two UN Special Procedures who recently conducted official visits to the Philippines, and for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to have a stronger monitoring role in the country.