KARAPATAN: Marcos Jr.’s new special committee,an attempt to window-dress dire rights situation in PH

Through Administrative Order No. 22, Malacanang has just created a “special committee on human rights coordination” in a desperate attempt to window-dress the grave human rights situation in the country.

Touted as a new mechanism that comes after the UN Joint Program on human rights in the Philippines, Marcos Jr.’s human rights coordinating council is viewed as a tactic to evade accountability for the human rights violations committed during the previous and the current regimes.

With its premise of addressing human rights issues through mere “coordination,” one cannot expect much from this “special committee.” It will go the way of the Inter-Agency Committee created under Administrative Order No. 35 tasked to resolve extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of human rights, which has a pitiful record of having handled only 385 cases and securing 13 convictions out of thousands of cases, as well as the more recently created task force under Executive Order No. 23 which is supposed to probe labor-related violations but has not been heard of again since its establishment a year ago.

Meanwhile, Marcos Jr.’s counter-insurgency program, as well as draconian policies and laws on counter-terrorism are being implemented in full swing, resulting in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, bombings and forcible evacuations, and fake surrenders, while the systemic roots of the continuous violations of people’s rights that drive the State security forces’ commission of these grave crimes with impunity remain in place.

Thus, these bodies are mere embellishments meant to appease the growing indignation here and abroad against the escalating violations of civil and political rights in the Philippines and gloss over the reality of state responsibility for the extrajudicial killings and other gross human rights and international humanitarian law violations.