Rights groups scoff at ‘aggressive’ PH response to UN council resolution

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2019 07:41 PM

MANILA – Rights groups on Friday scoffed at the government’s “aggressive” response to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution passed on Thursday, which seeks a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the country.

Immediately after the resolution was adopted, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., through Ambassador Evan Garcia, rejected the resolution, calling it a “travesty” of human rights and warned of consequences.

“Napaka-undiplomatic para sa highest diplomatic official,” Rose Trajano, secretary-general of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates said in a press conference.

(It is so undiplomatic for the highest diplomatic official.)

“Nakakatawang nakakatawa na sobrang aggressive at violent ang reaction ng pamahalaan dito sa resolution na ito. But when we actually look at the text, at ang sabi nga ng Iceland, it’s a balanced text and modest ask. Kasi ano ba 'yung hinihingi? Di na nga investigation eh, to have a comprehensive report on the human rights situation,” iDEFEND’s Judy Pasimio said.

(It is so funny that the Philippine government’s reaction to the resolution was aggressive and violent. When we actually look at the text, Iceland said it’s a balanced text and modest ask. Because what is it asking? It’s not an investigation but to have a comprehensive report on the human rights situation.)

“Such a reaction from all of the delegations, overkill talaga. As if it’s an actual threat to sovereignty when it’s just simply to fulfill your obligation as part of the Human Rights Council,” she said.

Trajano clarified that the resolution approved by the UNHRC in Geneva Thursday is not technically a call for an investigation into the human rights situation in the country but a report to be prepared by the High Commissioner for UNHRC containing all available information from various sources.

The report, she said, will be based on Philippine submissions on treaty compliance and reports of UN special rapporteurs, international and local NGOs, the media and the UN High Commissioner’s representatives in the Philippines.

Trajano shared that Filipino human rights groups originally wanted an independent international investigation where UN experts will visit the country to interview victims' families and government officials, among others. But they realized that the Philippine government would never allow it, she said.

The Philippine government has repeatedly rejected any suggestion for an international investigation into a “domestic” problem that is the war on drugs.

But human rights groups insist, the Philippines itself approved a 7-point criteria in assessing the human rights situation in any country in 2016 and should be bound by it.

Despite the “modest” ask, Amnesty International’s Wilnor Papa considers the UNHRC resolution an important initial step.

“Sana magkaroon ng fruition, tunay na mayabong at malalim at masinsin na report sa human rights situation sa Pilipinas,” he said.

(We hope there will be fruition, that there will be a thorough and comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.)

“Willing ang Amnesty International and human rights organizations na tumulong,” he added.

(Amnesty International and human rights organizations are willing to help.)