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