May 22, 2011
It’s an embarrassment for the United Nations Human Rights Council.
This was how the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan described the election of the Philippines to a fresh term in the UN Security Council, after garnering the second highest number of votes.
“This seriously impacts on the credibility of the UNHRC. The Philippines has a very poor human rights record dating back to nearly a decade of the Arroyo regime. It has gained notoriety for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention. These practices continue to this day,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The PH government has yet to ensure the conviction of perpetrators and masterminds of the murder of activists. Meanwhile, some 40 cases of extrajudicial killings have already been recorded, less than a year into the Aquino government. The Philippine Human Rights Commission even practically cleared the AFP in the abduction and torture of a Fil-Am activist,” he added.
The group said that the results of the vote may be the result of intense public relations blitz and lobbying rather than actual improvements in the human rights situation in the country since the time of the Arroyo government. It said that during the worst period for human rights under the Arroyo government, the Philippines was still able to get itself elected to the UNHRC.
“It’s really no achievement since even during GMA’s worst onslaught of human rights violations, the Philippines still got elected. It’s a shame really,” Reyes said.
Bayan said that the PH government can only do two things; continue the old ways of the Arroyo government, or make human rights a priority and hold accountable rights violators of the past and present.
“The current government seems to be going down the same path of the Arroyo government. The number of new extrajudicial killings remains alarming. The conviction rate of suspected perpetrators remains less than 2%. There are more than 300 political prisoners languishing in jails around the country. How can our foreign affairs officials say that human rights is a priority of this government?” Reyes asked.
Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Bayan Secretary General