PH UPR Watch: PH gov’t in fantasy world pf contradictions at UN Human Rights Council session

Some big words and promises were bellowed by the Philippine government through Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla before the 51st Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland on October 5, 2022. Among its claims was that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is a “unifying” leader who is undertaking ‘transformational’ reform of the country’s justice and law enforcement sectors. He said that the Marcos Jr. administration is protecting the human rights of all citizens. Sec. Remulla also made other gaudy claims, such as reforms being made within the first 100 days of the Marcos administration. He boasted that the Philippines judicial and law enforcement systems go beyond international standards and best practices.

But Sec. Remulla contradicted himself in the very the same breath that he uttered this exaggerated narrative. He acknowledged that the flaws and delays in the delivery of justice and reforms are necessary to, in his words, attain real justice in real time. He refused to acknowledge the issues raised by States on the dire lack of justice and ineffectivity of domestic redress mechanisms, as well as the continuing red-tagging and other dangers posed by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and its proxies.

Because the human rights situation is as clear as day. Extrajudicial killings of journalists, lawyers, environmentalists, health professional, unionists, and political dissenters in this country continue unabated even after Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody regime. At least ten individuals, majority of them are peasants, were killed by State agents, while two journalists have been murdered. Drug war killings monitored by a university-based institution, Dahas PH, are up to 91 people. Red- and terrorist-tagging remains as vicious, increasingly more against lawyers and judges, and the police disrespect the people’s rights to peaceably assemble. Terror laws are invoked in the suppression of academic freedom and other civil liberties, as well as in persecuting human rights defenders and church workers who are charged with these draconian laws. There is no let-up in arbitrary arrests based on questionable warrants and trumped up charges. These are among the many documented attacks against people’s rights these past 100 days of the Marcos Jr. administration.

The world though is not blind nor clueless. Numerous States, the UN Resident Coordinator, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and all civil society organizations demanded accountability amid continuing human rights violations, during the HRC session.

There is obviously a disconnect between reality and fantasy.

And we will make sure that the real picture is put out there as we keep watch and remain vigilant, factcheck and remain steadfast in upholding justice and human rights.