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    Brussels, Belgium— The Philippine UPR Watch delegation met with members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in an effort to share the human rights situation of the Philippines and  enjoin their  support for the Filipino people’s aspirations for just and lasting peace.

    Francesco Giorji, attending on behalf of  Pier Antonio Panzeri, Chairperson of the European Parliament Subcommitee for Human Rights,  assured the UPR Watch delegation of their support for the group’s calls for a stop to all Extra-Judicial Killings in the country.  He also warmly welcomed  ongoing efforts to push for the continuation of the Peace Talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)  and the Government of the Republic of  the Philippines  (GRP). Giorji was accompanied by other members of the Sub-committee secretariat in separate meetings that were held at the MEPs’ offices.

    MEP Estefan Eck of Germany said that he will definitely relay the UPR Watch’s message to his colleagues at the Delegation for the Relations with the Lands of South-East Asia and the Union of Southeast Asian states (ASEAN). Eck is an independent and is from the Confederal Group of the United European Left – Nordic Green Left.

    Marie Christine Vergiat from France expressed her complete agreement that genuine peace in the country cannot be achieved unless the roots of the armed conflict in the Philippines are resolved. While acknowledging the high degree of difficulty of being a human rights defender in the Philippines, she wished everyone a productive session in Geneva and thanked the delegation for sharing their views with the European Parliament. Vergiat is a member of the EU Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

    The Philippine UPR Watch delegation is in Europe for the Third Cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UN UPR) of Human Rights in the Philippines to be held May 8 in Geneva where  Senator Alan Peter Cayetano is expected to deliver the Philippine government’s report on the implementation of recommendations made during the previous UPR in 2012. The 3rd Cycle of the UPR of the Philippines will cover the last three years of the Benigno Simeon Aquino III presidency up to the first months of current president Duterte.

    Nardy Sabino, General Secretary of the Promotion of Church People’s Response opened the delegation’s presentation.  “The election of President Rodrigo Duterte was brought about by the Filipino people’s frustration over the failure of past administrations to deliver on their campaign promises… They thus, overwhelmingly placed their votes behind the candidate who not only promised to end corruption, poverty and criminality, but behind someone who is largely projected and believed to have led the “cleanest and safest” city in the country”, he added.

    However, Sabino continued, “extrajudicial killings (EJKs) attributed to President Duterte’s  War on Drugs have reached alarming proportions only after a few months since his term started in June 2016.”

    “EJKs and various other human rights violations (HRVs) mostly directed against peasant farmers and indigenous people under the watch of former Presidents Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have continued under President Duterte,” said UPR Watch delegation member Johanna de la Cruz of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).  “Perpetrators of these HRVs, even from the time of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, are not made accountable for the violations they commit thus emboldening the to continue to repress the fundamental rights of the people”, she added.

    The UPR Watch likewise shared with the MEPs the Executive Summary of their report including the recommendations they earlier submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and its member countries through their embassies in the Philippines and Permanent Missions in the UN in Geneva.

    In conclusion,  UPR Watch delegation member Dr. Angie Gonzales, Coordinator of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), shared the successes of the latest round of peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in advancing the people’s agenda for genuine development. She further pointed out that the Peace talks hope to address the roots of the armed conflict in the country as they are now discussing much needed socio-economic reforms. #

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