Karapatan, alongside people’s organizations, members of civil society, and human rights victims and their families, lauds and thanks the 18 States that defied the fake news, disinformation, and threats as they voted for the adoption of the Iceland-led resolution on the Philippines. Maraming salamat po.
Karapatan calls out the Philippine Government, particularly Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, his spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, among other officials, for their deliberately vile actions to sabotage the resolution. They have squandered millions of taxpayer funds and mobilized diplomats to campaign against the Filipino people’s clamor for justice. But on July 11, 2019, 18 members of the UN HRC, with the support of 23 other States, saw through the lies of the Duterte government.
Locsin and Panelo took potshots at the “minimal” support for the resolution at the UN HRC and have once again used their forked tongues in invoking the “sovereignty” card. These are shameless diatribes that aim to downplay the political significance of the adopted resolution. These are paltry excuses deliberately meant to gloss over the fact that the Philippine government has ratified twelve out of thirteen international human rights treaties and that is a signatory to numerous international human rights instruments that it is obliged to respect, uphold and implement.
The Philippine government is not a champion of human rights, contrary to its self-serving claims. It is not remaining true to the cause of human rights nor is it rescuing human rights from its misuse. Instead, these desperate and repetitive lines for defending these murderous policies are indicative that the Philippine government is stripped bare and anxious to be scrutinized in accordance with the binding human rights treaties and instruments that it has signed. Many have been killed in line with the war on drugs and the government’s counterinsurgency campaign; their families, children, relatives, multiplied hundred times over, will continue echoing the call for justice and accountability.
After the ICC acceptance of complaints against Duterte, this UN HRC process is among the significant intergovernmental mechanisms in play. The junkets did not work, the bullying did not work, the reprisals did not work. If the Philippine government shuns this process, then it should stop its hypocrisy and resign from the UN Human Rights Council.
This will not necessarily end the policies and campaigns that have wreaked havoc in the lives of Filipino communities and families, but the aggregate effect of all parallel efforts to exact accountability – both domestically and internationally – should hopefully bring about the change in policy and leadership that truly prioritizes human rights. The struggle for justice and accountability, amid the worsening human rights situation in the country, progresses. So much is yet to be done, but the stage is set.
*Palabay headed the Philippine UPR Watch Delegation and was the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) Representative during the 41st UN HRC session in Geneva, Switzerland