Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Press Statement after UPR adoption of Philippine Government Report to the UN

Please find attached the statement of the Philippine UPR Watch after the draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review was adopted on April 15 in UN, Geneva.

Stop the lying! Stop the Killings!

Following the ceremonial approval of the Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the Philippines, the Philippine UPR Watch continues to be outraged by the unrepentant and self-delusional claims by the Philippine government of its human rights record before the international community.

In his closing statement following the submission of the Draft Report, DFA Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, co-head of the Philippine delegation, said the Philippines "fully engaged" civil society in the preparation of the Philippine National Report (PNR). He also said the high level delegation from the Philippines speaks well of the seriousness of the Philippine government on human rights and that there are "clear manifestations" that the Philippines is a "human rights advocate and defender". It again paid lip service to fulfill so-called voluntary commitments concerning women and children, extrajudicial killings and the needs of the poor.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The so-called engagement with civil society was perfunctory and smacks of tokenism. The high level Philippine delegation was a platoon of bureaucrats sent by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in its damage-control and face-saving efforts. Secretary Ermita himself was not ready to answer questions from the Missions. The PNR is not an indication of the Philippine government's resolve to stop human rights violations in the Philippines. The report is a series of generalized statements primarily to appease the international community.

Earlier, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita deceived the Filipino people by reporting that the Philippine National Report (PNR) was well applauded at the UNHRC session. What his account did not say is that the applause was initiated and came mostly from the rest of the Filipino bureaucrats who formed part of Ermita's 40-member team. It was initiated and a cheap self-congratulatory stunt, scandalous and self-serving.

As the UPR on the Philippines winds up, we thank the Missions who have raised the issue of extrajudicial killings and disappearances, the welfare of migrant workers, corruption, the trafficking of women and the rights of children. While the Philippine report says the number of killings has gone down and that the government has instituted mechanisms for the protection of all human rights, it could neither hide nor disguise the truth that the human rights violations still continue with impunity and that no perpetrator has really been convicted. The concerns and questions raised by at least sixteen countries is an indication that the world is watching the human rights situation in the Philippines.

We urge the UNHRC to be constructively critical, especially in the preparation of the final report in June during its 8th session. We call on NGOs, church group and people's organizations to speak out against this deception peddled by the Philippine government. In the name of the victims of all forms of human right violations, we entreat the UNHRC to put to task the Philippine government for its responsibility and culpability.
The Philippine UPR watch reiterates its call that the Philippine government is unworthy of a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council. The responsibility of the state to protect every citizen continues to be totally negated with repressive government policies under the guise of the war on terrorism that curtail legitimate dissent.

For as long as the Philippine government is in a "state of denial" over its responsibility for human rights abuses, continues to paint rosy pictures to cover-up its crimes against the people and deceive the community of nations, the Filipino people will be vigilant and continue to expose the government's rottenness. One killing is one too many. #


Fr. Rex B. Reyes, Jr.
Head of Delegation
Philippine UPR Watch
(063) 918 9447538

Marie Hilao-Enriquez
(063) 917 8176274


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