“My Office is following the situation of human rights in the Philippines very closely. The extraordinarily high number of deaths – and persistent reports of extrajudicial killings – in the context of campaigns against drug use continue. Even the officially confirmed number of 5425 deaths would be a matter of most serious concern for any country. I welcome the recent statement by Special Rapporteurs calling for action by the Council. There should also be comprehensive and transparent information from the authorities on the circumstances around the deaths, and investigations related to allegations of violations. These could dispel any false allegations and help regain trust for the authorities.

Human rights defenders, including activists for land rights and the rights of indigenous peoples; journalists; lawyers; members of the Catholic clergy; and others who have spoken out – notably the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples – have received threats, sometimes publicly, from senior Government officials. This creates a very real risk of violence against them, and undermines rule of law, as well as the right to freedom of expression.”

We wholeheartedly welcome such statements on this point. The tenor and tone apparently reflect the desired credibility, objectivity, transparency and fairness on the matter.

It does not only underscore the urgency and imperative of squarely and decisively addressing the issue and concerns about these horrendous extrajudicial killings but also other brazen human rights violations. Many of these transgressions are disguised or legitimized by color of legality and official sanction including those against lawyers under attack.

It also highlights the significance of parallel or alternative avenues for redress and accountability in the international community especially in the face of what turns out to be rather ineffective and ineffectual domestic remedies that frustrate or undermine local recourse for justice. 

We look earnestly forward to a positive response from the UN Human Rights Council during its present session in Geneva as well as decisive and determined action by the international community of nations and peoples. #

Reference: Edre U. Olalia | NUPL President | +639175113373

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers was founded September 15, 2007 as a nationwide association of human rights lawyers as well as law students, paralegals and legal workers in the Philippines united by a commitment to the defense, protection, and promotion of human rights especially of the poor and the oppressed. nupl2007@gmail.com | 02 9206660