The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) accused the Philippine government of making “false claims” at the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which was concluded in Geneva last week.
In a statement, PAHRA said the government continued to deny that there is a “culture of impunity” in the country and that there is no state policy to attack human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists.
The Philippine government, through Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, has announced earlier that it will accept 200 out of 289 recommendations of the recently-concluded UPR.
PAHRA said that while Remulla’s announcement “is a welcome development, it does, in no way, end the work as some issues remain urgent.”
The group said that data from the six years of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency, an administration that both Remulla and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. supported, “clearly show the state of impunity,” with “unprecedented numbers” of charged human rights defenders, killed lawyers, and closure of media entities.
“The empirical evidence is precisely what moved many member states to take strong positions on the Philippines’ human rights situation and urge immediate actions on issues such as the killings in Duterte’s drug war,” read the PAHRA statement.
It said that by standing with human rights victims, and amplifying their voices in the UPR platform, member states fulfilled their duties to the different treaties and conventions on the protection of human rights.
At least 27 countries urged the Marcos government to protect human rights defenders and civil society organizations by enacting the long-awaited Human Rights Defenders Protection Act, ratifying the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the amendment of the anti-terror law.
PAHRA reiterated its call that the Marcos government and Congress must include these legislative measures in its priority legislative agenda.
The human rights alliance also reiterated its position for a review of the drug war, which has “so far failed to produce any meaningful result” and “is a red flag example of how the Philippine government can say something promising to the international community, but do otherwise.”
“We urge the member states to continue to be scrutinizing such actions as we move forward with this round of UPR recommendations,” said the group.
PAHRA also reiterated its call for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the repeal of the Anti-Terror Law.