Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño’s statement on Geneva trip
My trip to Geneva, Switzerland as part of the Philippine UPR Watch delegation culminated yesterday in a picket-protest in front of the United Nations headquarters.
After listening to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita deliver the Philippine National Report to the UN Human Rights Council, I joined some 30 Filipinos and Swiss citizens who had put up a picketline right outside the UN gates to dramatize our people’s continuing quest for an end to the killings, disappearances and the impunity by which human rights atrocities are committed in the Philippines.
The Philippine report, presented by no less than Sec. Ermita with his extraordinarily large contingent of bureaucrats flown in from Manila, was a self-serving, selective and totally one-sided depiction of the Philippine human rights situation. The aim of the report was to depict the Arroyo administration as a vanguard defender of human rights and good governance in the country.
I was particularly flabbergasted to hear Sec. Ermita boast of the government’s superlative gains in fighting graft and corruption in the Philippines. I almost fell from my seat listening to him expound on government efforts to strengthen the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan, the success of its electronic procurement system, and effectivity of its lifestyle checks. In the light of the latest swine scam and the NBN-ZTE deal, this is chutzpah of the highest degree, inspired by no less than a cheating, lying and stealing President.
Fortunately, not all countries took this line hook and sinker. At least 16 countries expressed concern on the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and, in typical diplomatic language used in the UN, practically told the Philippines it was not doing enough on the matter, especially with regards to the recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston.
Other issues of great concern to the international community were the violations of the rights of Filipino migrant workers and those of women and children.
In other words, the Philippine government’s attempt to downplay the killings and disappearances and project the image that the situation was improving did not wash. In part through the efforts of the Philippine UPR Watch, the truth came out and the Arroyo government was held to account for its failures by the international community.
I am leaving Geneva with the knowledge that the world is watching the Philippines and is in solidarity with its quest for truth, justice and accountability.