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[HRC52 Oral Statement] Item 6: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review outcomes of the Philippines

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52nd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 6: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review outcomes of the Philippines

Oral statement delivered by Rosemarie Trajano

On behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

24 March 2023


FORUM-ASIA together with its partner organisations in the Philippines appreciate the Philippine government’s participation in the UPR process.

We note that the government has accepted 200 out of the 289 recommendations it received during the UPR including several recommendations to ensure credible investigations and accountability for extrajudicial killings in the context of the so-called ‘war on drugs’. However, facts on the ground stand in direct contrast to these recommendations as demonstrated by the recent Congress Resolution defend former President Duterte, who actively incited the killings from the International Criminal Court, the only viable option for accountability available for these killings. Meanwhile, very little has been done to credibly investigate the widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in the context of the war on drugs.

The government’s refusal to accept specific recommendations to end the ‘war on drugs’ and to review legislation and legal framework that underpin the war on drugs by armed and security forces raises serious questions about the government’s willingness to end the continuing extrajudicial killings in the anti-drug operations. The Police Memoranda and the widely questioned drug watchlist that enabled thousands of EJKs are still operational. And unfortunately killings of suspected drug offenders are still happening.

We are disappointed that despite the serious implications of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on civic space, the government did not accept the recommendation to review the law in line with its international human rights obligations. Similarly, failure to accept recommendations to end the practice of ‘red-tagging’ indicate an unwillingness on the part of the government to recognize and address the serious and often fatal consequences of this practice especially for human rights defenders.

While farmers, workers, fisherfolk and indigenous people continue to be marginalized as a result of the prevailing development discourse and corporate abuses, the failure to accept the recommendations to re-examine the Mining Act 1995 and develop a national action plan in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights point to lack of willingness to address these deep rooted concerns. This is further worsened by the ongoing judicial harassment of land and environmental rights defenders, including of those who propose solutions to the current food and economic crises.

We urge the Philippines to develop a time-bound action plan with genuine participation of civil society for the implementation and follow up of the UPR recommendations.

Thank you.