We, the members of the Philippine UPR Watch delegation* return to the country after attending the 8th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. We did lobby work with the various missions, held a side event at the U.N. and delivered oral interventions in relation to the human rights report of the Philippine Government and the report of Prof. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
We feel that our delegation presented the objective realities before the international community and we were effective in countering the glossy human rights picture projected by the government before the world. We know for a fact that the killings, disappearances and other rights violations continue with impunity.
We are appalled at the way the Philippine government fiercely attacked Prof. Alston. They have resorted to denials, twisting of facts, unabashed name calling and even ad hominem arguments to the conclusions and observations of Prof. Alston. The bid by a handful of states, including the Philippines, to unseat mandate holders like Prof. Alston is a way to get back at people who speak the truth.
Towards the end of the UPR process, the Philippine government chose to ignore the recommendations of Prof. Alston as well as the recommendation to invite other special procedures to our country. Cover up seems to be an operational procedure of the Arroyo government. On one hand, it paints a glossy picture of the Philippine Government boasts of itself as a ‘rights-based’ State that has signed UN core documents and enacted laws that supposedly protect the rights of its citizens. On the other hand, it refuses to accept the recommendations of the UNHRC that would help resolve the killings and disappearances and stop the impunity.
Killings and disappearances continue in a climate of impunity and the Philippine government’s Report hypocritically trumpets its “commitment, constructive and consultative approach”. We urge the Filipino people to remain resolute in exposing human rights abuses, persevere in seeking justice for the hundreds of victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations. Let us continue pushing the Arroyo administration to fulfill its obligations to international rights treaties and expose before the world her deceptive schemes. Let us continue the struggle for peace and justice.
(*Philippine UPR Watch delegation for June 2008: Fr. Rex Reyes of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Marie Enriquez of Karapatan, Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Edita Burgos of Desaparecidos, Donnie Mapanao of Migrante-Switzerland, Trisha Garvida of Karapatan and Ed Cubelo of Toyota union-Philippines)