PH human rights groups submit alternative human rights report to UN treaty body

A decade since the United Nations Human Rights Committee conducted a review on the Philippine government’s compliance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the State party will undergo a fifth review before the UN treaty body this coming October 2022, with non-governmental organizations providing alternative submissions to the government report.

Human rights group Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi, an association of women human rights defenders, submitted their 29-page joint alternative report on September 12, covering human rights issues during the administrations of Benigno Aquino III and Rodrigo Duterte, as well as the first months of the Marcos Jr. administration.  

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In their report, they stated that “the human rights situation in the country has spiraled into a crisis,” as they documented and witnessed gross violations on the right to life and civil liberties, the deeper and pervasive climate of impunity and the dire lack of effective domestic mechanisms for redress and accountability, closing civic and democratic spaces, and unmet obligations to core international human rights instruments, including the ICCPR.

They cited the continuing impunity since the Marcos Sr. regime, with the dictator and his family as well as cohorts yet to be made fully accountable for their acts of gross human rights violations and massive corruption during martial law, impeding efforts towards truth and justice.

“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.

Karapatan added that “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.”

“Marcos Jr. is not intent on immediately prosecuting those involved in the gross human rights violations during the Duterte administration and with domestic remedies remaining largely ineffective in pursuing accountability, the climate of impunity remains pervasive,” Palabay said.

Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi highlighted “serious human rights violations” committed by State actors including extrajudicial killings in the drug war and counterinsurgency programs of the Philippine government; numerous cases of illegal/arbitrary arrests and detention, threats including red- and terrorist-tagging, and judicial harassment; infringement on press freedom and freedom of expression, as well as freedom of association and academic freedom; forced evacuations and bombings of communities due to military operations; cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners including political prisoners; gendered attacks against women and LGBTQ human rights defenders, among others.

“There is an even more urgent need for the international community and the UN human rights mechanisms to undertake decisive steps for an independent investigation on these concerns and to continue to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the Philippines. We urge the members of the UN Human Rights Committee to comprehensively evaluate how the ICCPR has been grossly violated by the Philippine government through the many years after the last review,” Palabay said.

The groups are also set to participate in the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Universal Periodic Review, with the Philippines under scrutiny in the next two months by the UN mechanisms.

*Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi’s report can be viewed through this link: https://bit.ly/3qA7U5Z