At least sixteen faith-based and rights organizations under the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) have submitted reports on the human rights situation in the Philippines, in response to the call for submissions by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. This is in accordance WITH the Iceland-led resolution on the Philippines adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in July 2019.
In a press conference, EcuVoice convenor Edita Burgos said that the reports they submitted depict the worsening human rights crisis besetting the Filipino people. “The extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary or illegal arrests and detention and other civil and political rights violations exacerbate the landlessness, lack of job security, and gross inequalities faced by poor Filipinos. Such is the situation under the administration of President Duterte,” Burgos said.
The EcuVoice network mobilised for the submission of reports of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, National Union of People’s Lawyers, Karapatan, Rise Up for Life and for Rights, Save Our Schools Movement, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN), Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples (TFIP), SANDUGO Kilusan ng mga Moro at Katutubong Mamamayan para sa Sariling Pagpapasya (Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-determination), Makabayan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Save Our Schools Movement, Kalikasan People’s Network, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Migrante, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Ibon Foundation.
EcuVoice members also provided key inputs in the submissions by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, World Council of Churches of the Philippines, the Center for Human Rights of the CUNY, and International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.
Human rights defenders outlined the socio-economic and political context marked by intensified poverty, violations on security of employment, high prices of basic commodities and services, and the continuing plunder of land and resources including that of ancestral domains in their submissions. Analyses and documented cases were cited in relation to the “war on drugs,” the attacks on human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, indigenous peoples and members of the political opposition that resulted in the significant and further shrinking of civil and democratic spaces. Violations on the right to freedom of expression, to peaceably assemble and to form associations were also included.
“The Duterte administration’s anti-narcotics campaign, its counter-insurgency program through Oplan Kapanatagan and its ‘whole of nation attacks’ under Executive Order No. 70, and its rampage against critics and political dissenters have immensely contributed to the hyper state of impunity,” Burgos stated.
EcuVoice network and its partners recommended for the initiation of UN-led investigation through fact finding missions, a creation of a Commission on Inquiry, or official visits of UN special rapporteurs in the Philippines. In June 2020, Bachelet is scheduled to deliver her report at the UNHRC.
The network notes that this year, aside from this process at the UN HRC, the Duterte administration is set to be reviewed before the treaty body UN Human Rights Committee while the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is likewise set to release results of its preliminary examination on complaints regarding crimes against humanity.
“We reiterate our call to the international community to help us make the Duterte administration accountable for its rights violations. ENOUGH ALREADY!,” Burgos concluded.