We, representatives of people’s organizations from human rights defenders, peasants, workers, women, Indigenous Peoples, and migrants in the Philippines, call on the member States of the United Nations (UN) to stand and heed to the demands for establishing an independent investigation to urgently probe the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines.
Recently, 11 UN Human Rights Experts urged the Council to look into the rising number of unlawful deaths and killings linked to state forces.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has likewise expressed alarming concern on the estimated around 27,000 people that may have been executed under the Philippine government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Iceland has explicitly called on the Philippine government to take all necessary measures to end all killings associated with the drug war, cooperate with the international community, and hold perpetrators accountable on three separate sessions of the Council.
Under the past three years of the Duterte administration, his war on drugs has left countless families grieving for their young as even children were slain in the ongoing ‘war on drugs.’ At least 384 activists, farmers, and labor leaders have been brutally murdered.
Shrinking of democratic space means life and death. State-funded smear campaigns, criminalization and red-tagging of CSOs, media and human rights defenders continuously shrivel the civic spaces in the country. Independent journalists and outfits are threatened while the independence of the judiciary and legislative is severely undermined. All critics including several Special Procedures mandate holders have been intimidated by the president.
Daily killings occur with an environment of impunity. In a span of days, two labor union organizers were gunned down in Cavite province; two human rights workers were assassinated in broad daylight in Sorsogon. Two days after, a farmer-activist in Bukidnon province in Mindanao was shot outside his house, and a campaign leader of a progressive group was killed by unidentified individuals.
The island of Negros alone is a stage for State terror. Last month, at least 14 farmers were inhumanely slaughtered in a coordinated ‘anti-criminality’ operation of military and police. This is but the latest addition to the at least 50 farmers killed in the island since Duterte took power. Days ago, 71 agricultural workers church workers and human rights defenders were arrested with trumped-up charges.
To avert international scrutiny, President Duterte has denied all attempts for independent fact-finding and investigations.
In this regard, we welcome the UNHRC and UN Experts’ calls and support the human rights mechanisms as a venue for redress and deliver justice to the victims of rights violations in the Philippines. We urge the UNHRC member states to support Iceland’s resolution and other states to endorse or issue similar decisive support.
Under these dire circumstances in the Philippines, we believe that silence is complicity and inaction is criminal.
[The Philippine UPR Watch delegation in New York headed by Longid will be at United Nations during the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) this July.]
Beverly L. Longid
Global Coordinator, International IPMSDL
International Officer, Katribu