“Nakakakilabot ang kapal ng mukha ng gobyernong ito,” (The callousness of this government is ghastly.) is how Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay described the BS Aquino government’s bid for a seat to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for 2016-2018 as announced by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Evan Garcia.
“The government has no right to be in any mechanism that deals with human rights. It has not done anything substantial to improve the country’s human rights situation,” she added. The UNHRC monitors how UN-member States comply with its obligations on international treaties and agreements on human rights.
“We call on the international community not to heed the government’s call to support its bid to the UNHRC. It will be an injustice to the victims of human rights violations and their relatives,” said Palabay.
Karapatan believes the government has nothing to be proud of its ‘superbody’ tasked to investigate extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other rights violations. “The creation of the ‘superbody’ did not deter human rights violations by State security forces. When the superbody was created in the last quarter of 2012, there were 114 documented victims of extrajudicial killing. Now, there are 169 documented cases of extrajudicial killing and 179 frustrated killings. For the first six weeks of 2014, there are already seven victims of extrajudicial killing. And, not one perpetrator was punished for these crimes.”
Garcia, in a news report, cited the “creation of a high-level inter-agency committee to solve verified cases of extra-legal killings” known as ‘superbody’ as among the actions taken by the Aquino government after the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2012. The UPR is a UN process of reviewing the human rights record of member States every four years.
“We would also like to emphasize that during the UPR, the government refused to accept the recommendation of Spain and The Netherlands to repeal E.O. 546 that mandated the creation of paramilitary groups. These groups continue to commit gross human rights violations as force multiplier of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its implementation of Oplan Bayanihan,” said Palabay.
The Philippine government accepted 66 of the 88 recommendations by member States during the 2012 UPR. Palabay noted that the government failed to end extrajudicial killings and to prosecute perpetrators, disband private armies, and end the use of torture—recommendations the government accepted.
On March 9 to 20, the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice), a network of human rights and faith-based organizations, is participating in the 25th session of the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland. The group is represented by Pastor Jerome Baris, national coordinator of the justice, peace and human rights program of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and Atty. Ephraim Cortez, deputy secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.
EcuVoice’s delegation is set to raise the issue of unabated extrajudicial killing of political activists, the AFP’s use of schools and other civilian facility in its counterinsurgency operation, and other rights violations, including the Aquino government’s incompetence to address the needs of the victims of typhoon Yolanda. The delegation is a follow-up engagement to the 2012 UPR.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Floor Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.