MANILA - German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel on Tuesday underscored the importance of human rights and the rule of law during her meeting with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whose father's reign was marred by human rights abuses.
"I also underlined the importance Germany attaches to rule of law and safeguarding human rights and assured him of our continued commitment in this regard," Reiffenstuel said in a press conference after her courtesy visit to the incoming Philippine President.
"We exchanged about our commitment, about Germany's continued commitment in the area of protecting human rights and safeguarding rule of law," she said.
The same commitment on both areas was also stressed by the United States days after the May 9 elections.
While Reiffenstuel told Marcos that Germany has been funding the United Nations' joint program on human rights, the diplomat noted that they "did not go into details of projects and project funding" in the Philippines.
Reiffenstuel did not clarify if the discussion on human rights centered on outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs that left thousands of drug suspects killed, or the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s decades-long administration that saw violations of basic rights.
DUTERTE'S WAR ON DRUGS
In 2017, the European Union Annual Report on Human Rights And Democracy noted that human rights situation in the Philippines worsened under the Duterte administration.
"Despite positive developments in some areas, the human rights situation in the second half of the year has considerably worsened as a consequence of the so-called 'war on drugs,'" the report read.
Over the course of the Duterte administration, the European Parliament consistently condemned extrajudicial killings in relation to the drug war, intimidation and violence against human rights activists, journalists and critics, as well as the "red-tagging" of organizations and individuals.
Earlier this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs blasted the European Parliament's alleged "misguided attempt" to "interfere" in the 2022 national elections, after the chamber released a resolution on the supposed human rights breaches in the country.
"We advise European Parliamentarians to listen to more respectable sources than the militant front organizations masquerading as legitimate civil society organizations; the usual disgruntled members of a forlorn political opposition who clearly do not represent the majority of the Philippine electorate; and journalists who have a clear political agenda other than reporting the news in a fair and accurate manner," DFA had said in a statement.
MARTIAL LAW ABUSES
Human rights abuses were among the issues that hounded Marcos Jr. during the run-up to the 2022 national elections as his family has yet to apologize to victims of extrajudicial killings and torture during the military rule of the Marcos' patriarch.
Some 11,000 people were identified as victims of rape, mutilation, psychological and emotional abuse, arbitrary detention, forced exile and extrajudicial killings during Marcos Sr.'s martial law from from 1972, according to the Human Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission. Martial law was formally lifted in 1981, although Marcos Sr. stayed in power until 1986 when he was ousted by the People Power Revolution.
Some 64,000 other victims who sought reparations from the Marcos family were not included in the list of claimants following the board’s assessment, international human rights group Amnesty International said.
In a previous interview, Marcos Jr. said he told his children that Martial Law was something that their grandfather "had to do" as the "situation at the time was dire."
"We had a secessionist movement in the south. We had the dissident NPAs, CPP-NPA in the countryside. And these were people who wanted to bring down the government, and the government had to defend itself," Marcos Jr. told CNN Philippines in April.
"That's how I explain it. That was what your lolo had to do. He felt that he had to do that."
Nonetheless, Marcos Jr. asked the world to judge him not by his "ancestors, but by (his) actions", according to his former chief of staff and spokesman.
In early March, he made known his stand on human rights when he issued a statement on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
"I support the unconditional observance of human rights and fervently hope that there will be no more targeting of civilian communities and civilian establishments," Marcos Jr. said days after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
"I appeal for sobriety to prevail, for a peaceful resolution to the on-going armed conflict as I stand united with the rest of the world for Russia to respect Ukraine’s freedom and its citizens’ democratic way of life," he added.
Aside from Germany's commitment to upholding human rights, Reiffenstuel said she and Marcos Jr. also talked about maritime issues, security, renewable energy, food security, climate change and the deployment of Filipino workers to the European nation.
"We exchanged about the ongoing bilateral cooperation and the cooperation in the international frame and multilateral formats, and explored and discussed the potential for furthering cooperation in bilateral mutual interests, but also to address global challenges like climate change," she said.
"I informed him that so far, Germany has provided 25 million euros for climate change-related projects and bilateral projects, and the Philippines is also engaged in regional projects," she said.
When asked about details of their discussion about food security, one of Marcos Jr's priority programs, the German ambassador said that she mentioned "the upcoming international ministerial conference on global food security."
"This is also against the background of the impact of the Russian war against Ukraine with regard to the global food security and the challenges," she said.
Germany is the Philippines' largest trading partner among European Union (EU) members, with bilateral trade amounting to 6 billion euros or P328 billion, according to data from the German Embassy in Manila.
"Philippines is a substantial provider of agriculture products and fish, especially tuna, to Germany," the website read.
Germany also credits the Philippines for being "a globally leading location for outsourced company services and is also becoming increasingly important as a manufacturing location."
Marcos Jr. will formally assume the country's top post on June 30.
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