PH human rights among continuing priorities for Germany, says its embassy

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2022 12:12 AM


MANILA—It’s still too early to assess the human rights situation in the Philippines under the Marcos Jr administration, according to the German embassy in Manila.

Asked during a media briefing if Germany remains concerned about human rights after it previously expressed concern over the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, Alexander Schmidt, First Secretary of Political Affairs of the German Embassy in Manila, pointed out that there is a regular assessment under the Universal Periodic Review due in November.

The UPR is a mechanism of the Human Rights Council aimed at improving the human rights situation that involves a review of the human rights records of all UN member states. Each state has the opportunity to declare actions taken to improve human rights situations in their countries and fulfill human rights obligations.

“Now that you have a new government, of course, we need to see how the situation develops before we can ... I think it’s too early now to have an assessment. Of course, there’s a Universal Periodic Review under the United Nations which is due, will be done in November," Schmidt said.

"So this is something where I think all the relevant actors, not just us, other embassies in the country, but also the civil society and of course the Philippine government itself, will have to make an assessment of how the rule of law and accountability in the country works at the moment."

German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel said human rights remain a priority of Germany regardless of the sitting administration.

The embassy said human rights priorities in the Philippines include projects, activities, talks, and consultations to ensure women’s rights, gender equality, and women empowerment, rights of the child including fighting online sexual exploitation, protecting press freedom, ensuring rule of law and accountability.

“UPR, Universal Periodic Review, is the best example that human rights is a priority, is a continuing priority for us, to monitor the situation,” Reiffenstuel said.

“Our prioritization of human rights in the Philippines is not related or limited to one administration. It’s a process, it’s a continuous effort, and commitment of our government and a commitment of the German government to human rights (in) many aspects. Of course, we were very much focused on the war on drugs during the past administration. (We have) lined out other priorities that are equally important,” she added. 

Aside from human rights, priorities of German development cooperation in the Philippines include peace-building and development in Mindanao, climate change, energy transition and environmental protection, health, rules-based maritime order, humanitarian assistance after natural disasters, according to the embassy briefer on the several-facets of German-Philippine relations.

Around 70 different organizations are implementing projects funded by Germany in Mindanao with a current total volume of around EUR 38.6 million or about P2.2 billion.

Over 2,000 health care workers from the Philippines seeking employment in Germany are also deployed.

Cultural and scientific cooperation is also being undertaken in coordination with German institutions in the Philippines, universities, schools, and alumni and alumni networks.

In line with Germany’s economic priorities, the Embassy has worked in and with the Philippines to boost the economy and help in post-pandemic economic recovery, strengthen SMEs and the industrial sector, bring in new investments, support innovation, and start-ups, and advocate for renewable energies and energy transition.