United Nations adopts PH human rights report card

Modesto Morganelli
Settembre 24, 2017

After rejecting recommendations on ending extrajudicial killings (EJK), the Philippine government claimed a huge victory, in the review of its record by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

"The final adoption of our UPR Report during the 36th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva demonstrates that the Philippines has nothing to hide with its human rights record", Cayetano said in a statement from New York City where he is attending the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.

Malacañang on Saturday welcomed the United Nations Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) adoption of the Philippines' human rights report card.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told the United Nations General Assembly in NY that the Philippines will uphold human rights alongside ensuring Filipinos' security from the threat posed by illegal drugs and crime.

"The unanimous adoption of the UPR Report in Geneva signifies the UN's recognition of the country's human rights record under the leadership of President Duterte", presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

Those it rejected were described as "sweeping, vague and even contradictory, especially in the context of the Philippines' democratic processes", and included calls for through probes of extrajudicial killings, against restoring capital punishment and lowering the age of criminal liability, and to allow United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard to visit the country to probe the killings.

Garcia said the Philippine participation in the review shows its commitment to engage the UN HRC and take part in worldwide human rights mechanisms.

"The Philippines integrates the human rights agenda in its development initiatives for the objective of protecting everyone, especially the most vulnerable, from lawlessness, violence, and anarchy", said Cayetano during the High-Level Debate of the UN General Assembly, as quoted by a press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs released Sunday, September 24.

The U.S. welcomed the government's acceptance of its recommendations on "conducting police operations consistent with the rule of law and worldwide human rights obligations" but said "we remain greatly concerned about ongoing reports of extrajudicial killings".

But Cayetano maintained that the dignity of the Filipino people is a priority of the Duterte government.

The adoption is basically part of the UPR process where member-states confirm which recommendations to accept from those made when then Senator Cayetano presented the Philippine UPR report before the Council in Geneva in May.

"We congratulate the efforts of Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, together with Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, the rest of the members of the Philippine government UPR team, PH Ambassador to the UN Evan Garcia and the team at the Philippine Mission to the UN in Geneva for their tireless efforts in explaining to the world our policies, practices, commitments and obligations in the area of human rights", he said.

Garcia pointed out that
"The accepted recommendations mirrored the recommending States' understanding of the current human rights situation in the Philippines, recognized and respected the State as now implementing or having implemented them, and were supportive of the Philippines' pursuit of human rights aimed at uplifting human dignity".

The Philippines fully accepted recommendations that pertained to the sustainable protection of family and society in general, including preservation of the sanctity of family life, effective advocacy of economic and social rights through development, mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change, eradication of poverty and improvements to access to health care and public education. It also accepted those recommendations aimed at enhancing the current capacities of the country to protect the right to life, liberty and property.

The rest of the recommendations that were fully accepted include strengthening worldwide cooperation with human rights mechanisms for the protection of the most vulnerable sectors in Philippine society and the formulation of the national human rights action plan.

Forty-two States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 States each. The third cycle of the UPR will cover all UN Member States and run until 2021.

The Philippines was one of the first 47 members of the then newly created HRC in 2006.

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