HomeNewsPhilippine groups criticize Marcos Jr’s new human rights ‘super body’

Philippine groups criticize Marcos Jr’s new human rights ‘super body’

A coalition of civil society organizations and human rights defenders in the Philippines has expressed concerns over President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s recent establishment of the Special Committee on Human Rights Coordination. 

The administration describes this initiative as a ‘super body’ aimed at addressing human rights abuses. However, civil society groups argued that the committee is flawed and unlikely to achieve its objectives.

“The creation of this ‘super body’ does not inspire confidence given its composition,” the groups said in a joint statement. 

The Special Committee, outlined in Administrative Order No. 22, includes government agencies such as the Presidential Committee on Human Rights (PHRC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). 

The groups noted that these agencies have been ineffective or complicit in human rights violations, particularly concerning the anti-drug campaigns and suppression of dissent.

The credibility of the PHRC is questioned due to its previous actions that undermined human rights defenders and its role as a government spokesperson. 

“The PHRC has acted more as an apologist, which undermines its role in defending human rights,” the statement read. 

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The DOJ and the DILG have also been criticized for their insufficient actions on police misconduct and the prosecution of drug war killings.

The coalition is particularly concerned about the potential inclusion of observers such as the Anti-Terrorism Council and the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) in the committee, which, according to the groups, have track records of aggressive red-tagging and harassment of civil society groups.

Rather than relying on the ‘super body’, the groups urged the Philippine government to cooperate with international bodies such as the International Criminal Court and the UN human rights mechanisms to rectify policies leading to human rights violations. 

They also called for Marcos Jr. to end the ‘war on drugs’, denounce red-tagging, and investigate extrajudicial killings linked to these policies.

“The administration must prove its commitment to human rights through actions, not rhetoric,” the groups said.

The civil society groups appeal to international actors, including the European Union and other Western governments, to adopt a principled stance on human rights in the Philippines and not be swayed by the administration’s promises of improvements. 

The signatories include Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen (AMP), Amnesty Philippines, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Council for People’s Development and Governance, Franciscans International, IBON Foundation, iDefend, Karapatan, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL). 

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