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Filipino Rights Defenders Demand UN Review, Action on Deteriorating Rights Situation

Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch (PUPR Watch)

Beverly Longid
Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas
+639279019830 (Whatsapp)

Atty. Krissy Conti
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
+639298207000 (Whatsapp, Viber, Telegram)

Clemente Bautista
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
+639171372930 (Whatsapp, Viber)

Filipino Rights Defenders Demand UN Review, Action on Deteriorating Rights Situation

Geneva, Switzerland — Filipino human rights advocates seek a comprehensive, relevant, and participatory evaluation of the United Nations Joint Program in the Philippines, saying it has been unable to significantly address continuing human rights violations in the country. They also say that, after more than a year in power, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has proven to be virtually indistinguishable from his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, where human rights is concerned.

Representatives from leading Filipino human rights organizations, including the Karapatan, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Rise Up for Life and for Rights, and the KATRIBU – Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, are now at the UN Geneva Headquarters for the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The organizations are members of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch (PUPR Watch), a network of civil society organizations engaging with United Nations processes.

The rights groups are drawing particular attention to the unjust labeling of human rights and environment defenders as ‘communist terrorists’. In this intense and challenging climate, the defenders are calling on the UNHRC to raise its voice and address these pressing issues.

“UPR Watch calls on the UNHRC to seriously look at the alarming human rights record of the Marcos Jr. administration and the harmful policies perpetuating it,” said Beverly Longid of KATRIBU. “We are urging the UNHRC to look into the use and abuse of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the anti-terrorism financing law, and international humanitarian law. Human rights violations — killings, arrests, and arbitrary detentions — under Marcos Jr. continue, especially with the problematic presence of NTF-ELCAC, which misuses taxpayer funds for destructive red-tagging.

The rights groups emphasized an ongoing wholesale violation of the Filipino people’s economic rights occurring amid a deep economic and ecological crisis. “This crisis is driven by the decades-long oligarchic control of the Philippine economy, and the systematic exploitation of natural resources,” said Clemente Bautista of KALIKASAN.

Opposition to the rights violations has been met with state authoritarianism and fascism, resulting in harassment, intimidation, red-tagging, surveillance, and violence. “State forces have been connected to killings, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrests and tortures. Likewise, they have been ineffective in solving and prosecuting these rights violations, such as the recent killing of a public interest lawyer Ma. Saniata Liwliwa Gonzales-Alzate,” said Kristina Conti of NUPL.  

During their mission to Geneva, the Filipino human rights defenders will engage in dialogues with various UN special rapporteurs and country representatives, and present their findings before the Council to shed light on widespread human rights violations. #

Read this Briefing paper on the human rights situation in the Philippines