We the victims, families of victims and human rights advocates call on the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold the Arroyo regime accountable for the human rights violations in the country during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the Philippines in Geneva, Switzerland next week.
Our organizations, whose members bore the brunt of the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations, have banded to form the Philippine UPR Watch. We will send a delegation to Geneva to bring to the attention of the international community the truth about the gory human rights record of the Arroyo government.
We expect that the Philippine government report will conceal its bloodstained record the same way it hides the truth of its corrupt and immoral practices from the public. We respectfully urge the UNHRC to read through the lines and the lies of the Arroyo regime in the report.
The Philippine government brags of “a clean human rights record” following the perception of the European Union that there is a decline in the number of killings and disappearances. In fact, the Arroyo regime has done nothing to put a stop to the violations. It has done nothing to prosecute the real perpetrators. It has done nothing to give justice to the victims and their families. It has not taken seriously any of the recommendations of Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. At the outset, the government denied any human rights violations in the country. It was the domestic outcry and international pressure that compelled the Philippine government to undertake steps that are, by and large, token measures if not window dressings. The remedies opened up by other branches of the State continue to be unavailing and ineffectual to the victims.
Cover-ups and false attributions aggravate the impunity. No one has been credibly convicted even as the killings, disappearances, torture, illegal arrests and political persecution continue without let up. One more killing or disappearance is one too many.
In 2007, a human rights defender was killed every week while one disappeared every other week. In 2005 and 2006, killings took place every other day. The ‘de-escalation’ of killings and enforced disappearances committed by government troops on the population lends credence to the UN expert’s findings that these violations are centrally-directed under Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program.
We hope that the UNHRC will listen to the Filipino people’s call for justice and help stop further impunity and human rights violations in the country. At the same time, we continue to call on the European Union, the US and all foreign governments to stop financial and military aid and all forms of support to the Philippine government in light of the gross and systematic violations of human rights it is committing against the people.