The Philippine Human Rights Situation

A Compendium of Executive Summaries of the Submissions to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in Relation to the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 41/2 

Victims ask: damage control for further control?


The Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) expresses again its appreciation for the Report (HRC/44/22) of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet which was formally presented to the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday. We subscribe to her findings and wholeheartedly support the recommendations.

At the same time, we cannot help but be reasonably cynical of the statements of the Philippine government made through the Justice Secretary. The pledges and comments though now delivered in more sober and studied tones appear to be damage control to save its international reputation, pre-empt any further concrete and decisive international opportunities or mechanisms for accountability, and to provide the environment to wreak more damage on the Filipino people in its draconian solutions to the drug menace, rampant criminality, pandemic catastrophe and the supposed threat of terrorism.

Saccharine statements at appeasing widespread condemnation and creating yet another government body to address unabated impunity and support self-serving claims that domestic remedies are adequate, prompt and credible become soporific in the face of previous experience and present realities.

We reiterate our call for an independent investigation mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council to look into the human rights situation in the Philippines, as among the options for international accountability measures recommended by Ms. Bachelet.

There is more to a single official document presented by the Philippine government on the human rights situation by way of Reply to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report than meets the eye. It cannot certainly replace or override the overwhelming, abundant and credible testimonies, records, documents, interviews, facts, and analyses dissected by independent international experts and bodies who do not have any extraneous considerations to take into account other than to improve the human rights situation of any country and hold them to their pledges and commitments beyond lip service.

The Philippine government cannot just simply throw all consistent and persistent accounts of violations and frustrations with domestic remedies through the token of another washing machine to discombobulate the mind and deodorize the foul stink. It needs to seriously and sincerely read very well the writings on the wall.



Edre U. Olalia, EcuVoice, National Union of Peoples' Lawyers President
Cristina E. Palabay, EcuVoice, Karapatan Secretary General


On the adoption of UN HRC Resolution on technical cooperation and capacity-building for human rights in PH

The Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines and its partner organizations acknowledge the adoption of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) resolution on technical cooperation and capacity-building for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. The resolution, despite its shortcomings, remains as among the indications of the international community’s acknowledgement of and persisting scrutiny on the human rights crisis in the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. It is likewise proof that the Duterte administration, despite its posturing and rhetoric, caved in to domestic and international pressure for justice and accountability.

The resolution comes after the damning report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the persistent and widespread killings and human rights violations in the Philippines, the numerous statements of UN Special Procedures expressing concern on the situation, the European Parliament resolution calling on the European Commission to initiate the temporary withdrawal of trade perks of the Philippines in the light of the serious rights violations, and the proposed measure at the US Congress to end military and police aid to the Philippine government.

However, the said UN HRC Resolution stops short in providing more meaningful actions to address and impact on the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines as recommended by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). We believe that programs for technical cooperation and capacity building would NOT decisively curb the worsening human rights situation in the country. Victims and their families, human rights activists and defenders, and communities affected by these violations believe that prosecution and punishment of perpetrators of human rights violations, especially those committed by the highest officials in government, and thoroughgoing and immediate review, amendment, changes and/or repeal of policies instituted in law and practice by the Philippine government are among the crucial indicators in addressing the strong and persistent demands for justice and accountability.

With this government’s track record of brazen disregard for basic human rights and civil liberties, with its officials’ relentless efforts to vilify human rights defenders and active campaign to silence critics amid UN HRC resolution 41/2 and Ms. Bachelet’s report, we have serious reservations that the supposed technical assistance and capacity-building programs will stop the human rights violations. We even fear that the government may abuse such programs and use these as smokescreen to conceal their apathy and disregard toward the victims or to commit reprisals against activists and human rights defenders engaging in the process. 

We reiterate our call for a thorough and comprehensive investigation through independent and transparent accountability mechanisms, removed from the clutches of those who have been perpetrating and emboldening the commission of human rights violations. To leave the investigation in the hands of the same government which has continuously shown disregard of our rights would result in a mockery. Time and time again, human rights defenders have pointed out the failures in investigating and prosecuting human rights violations through domestic mechanisms.

EcuVoice will continue to engage the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Procedures, Treaty Bodies as well as other international accountability platforms by intergovernmental, government and non-governmental organizations to pursue justice for the victims of the State’s abandonment and disrespect of human rights and civil liberties in the Philippines.

Edre U. Olalia, EcuVoice, National Union of Peoples' Lawyers President, +639175113373
Cristina E. Palabay, EcuVoice, Karapatan Secretary General, +639173162831 



to the UN Human Rights Committee in its 136th Session

Palais Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland

September 2022 

This is a submission of Philippine non-governmental organizations Tanggol Bayi - Philippines and Karapatan Alliance Philippines to the UN Human Rights Committee in its 136th session to review the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the Philippine State Party. This submission seeks to illustrate the human rights situation in the country being reviewed since the State Party’s Report in 2012 up to present. 


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.

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