February 5, 2024
First, it was national security adviser Eduardo Año and officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) who denounced UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan for calling for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC. This time around, it is Sen. Imee Marcos who joins the fray, questioning Ms. Khan’s recommendation to do away with the NTF-ELCAC and even branding her a “threatening” foreign meddler.
Perhaps they should be reminded that it was the Philippine government that officially invited Ms. Khan, and thus it has the obligation to be informed and prodded by the recommendations of the special rapporteur. Perhaps Sen. Marcos and her brother, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the NTF-ELCAC, and the Dutertes should be schooled on international human rights mechanisms and how these work, for they have far too long toyed with domestic and international systems and laws to evade accountability and deodorize their image. They should know that governments that sign treaties and conventions have obligations. They cannot just sign documents on human rights treaties and conventions, and then go to town saying that we have a “vibrant” democracy, without being held accountable for what can be described as a human rights crisis on the ground.
Clearly, the Marcos Jr. regime is in a quandary. To Ferdinand Marcos Jr., public relations are everything, especially with his ambitions to distance himself from his family’s dirty past and his ally Duterte’s equally despicable reputation, secure a seat for the Philippines in the UN Security Council and clinch the leadership of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. His openness so far to investigations on the human rights situation in the Philippines by UN special rapporteurs is part of this grand public relations drive.
Alas for the Marcos Jr. government, its public relations gimmickry has simply not been enough to cover up the sordid truth about the human rights situation in the country. Ms. Khan is the second UN special rapporteur in three months to pierce through the thick smokescreen of lies that the NTF-ELCAC has put up. The first was Dr. Ian Fry, UN Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, who visited the country in November 2023.
What Marcos Jr. and his ilk simply fail to see is that it is game over for the NTF-ELCAC, despite the lights and sounds shows, parties, and meetings the Marcos administration mounted during Khan’s official visit. No amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth by NTF-ELCAC apologist Imee Marcos can deny the fact that the truth has a way of coming out, especially after thorough scrutiny by incisive experts in their field like Ms. Khan and Prof. Fry.
As for Imee Marcos, she has been found liable in the extrajudicial killings of Filipino-American activists Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo in 1981, for which an American court ordered her to pay $15 million in damages. A human rights violator like Imee Marcos has neither the right nor the credibility to tarnish the track records of Ms. Khan and Prof. Fry on human rights.