An Oral Statement to the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization in general consultative status

date: September 20, 2012
document id: ALRC-COS-21-09-2012
HRC section: Item 6, Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines
Speaker: Mr. Danilo Reyes

PHILIPPINES: The ALRC highlights abuses to the Human Rights Council, and doubts government’s will to implement UPR recommendations

Thank you Madam President,

The ALRC welcomes the Philippines ‘ second review under the UPR. Many of the recommendations on key issues could play an important role in improving the human rights situation in the country. These include those on the need for effective investigations into abuses, the elimination of torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, combating impunity and ensuring justice for victims.

However, we have serious doubts as to whether the government of the Philippines will effectively implement these. We call on all States who made recommendations to follow up with the government between now and the next cycle of the UPR.

Targeted attacks against human rights and political activists, as well as other grave abuses, are ongoing. The lack of investigations is preventing any hope of effective prosecutions, justice and remedies for grave violations. Complainants are being forced to leave the country and witnesses either withdraw or recant their testimonies. Trial delays and the failure to arrest perpetrators from the military and paramilitary forces, places witnesses and complainants at heightened and protracted risk.

For example, Myrna Reblando, the widow of one of the 32 journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre in 2009, has been forced to leave the country due to a lack of protection. Even witnesses within the witness protection programme have been killed.

The failure to arrest former General Jovito Palparan, Jr., who has been charged concerning forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, speaks to the government’s inability to ensure the rule of law.

The government is however able to detain and prosecute human rights and political activists based on fabricated charges, as seen in the case of Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie, an indigenous activist from Sulu.

We regret in particular the government’s failure to accept key recommendations concerning reforms to justice delivery mechanisms. We urge the government to conduct such reforms and implement accepted recommendations in a credible and verifiable manner, without delay.

Thank you.
Webcast available here: http://bcove.me/45becy7a
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About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission . The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia .