Senators Francis Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV were commenting on the statement of presidential spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo that the country’s reelection to the UNHRC was an acknowledgment of the need for the Duterte administration to combat illegal drugs and corruption.
UN/Elma Okic/File
‘Philippines’ UNHRC seat no credit to administration’
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Opposition senators said yesterday Malacañang should not crow about the Philippines’ retaining its seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). 

Senators Francis Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV were commenting on the statement of presidential spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo that the country’s reelection to the UNHRC was an acknowledgment of the need for the Duterte administration to combat illegal drugs and corruption. 

Trillanes said the reelection was not a credit to the Duterte administration but to the nation as UN members “voted for the country, not the person” and that the body has “a high respect for our country per se, not necessarily for Duterte.” 

“Who knows after some months or a year, we have a different president,” he told dzBB. 

He said the reelection would not have any effect on the complaint he filed against Duterte in 2017 before the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

The rights group Karapatan said the reelection does not absolve Duterte and his administration of their “sins.”

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, said the re-election might be an “opportune moment” for the administration to open its doors for investigation as she called on the UNHRC to pursue its independent investigation on the human rights violations in the country. 

“The Duterte government can spin their membership in the UNHRC all they want, but the victims will continue with their quest for justice; no trail of blood left by this murderous regime will be forgotten,” she said. 

The Philippines is one of five countries from the Asia-Pacific region that made up the 18 countries that vied without opposition for the seats scheduled to be left vacant this year. The country will serve a fresh term of three years until 2021 after it ends its fourth term at the UNHRC this year.  

Meanwhile, detained Sen. Leila de Lima called on the Senate to act with dispatch on several legislative measures aimed at protecting the rights of people to human dignity and reducing social, economic and political inequalities in the country.

She also hopes that the measures would be given priority as part of the Senate’s contribution to the global celebration of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) throughout 2018. 

“I urge my colleagues to take a serious look at these pending measures as our humble contribution to the global campaign of raising awareness about the importance of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago,” she said. 

In a statement, De Lima also said: “The clamor for a human rights regime resonates not only in the Philippines but also elsewhere around the world where the principles of human rights are undermined, and the defenders of human rights are harassed and incarcerated.”

As a signatory to the UDHR, the Philippines has ratified eight core human rights treaties and six optional protocols, along with many other key human rights and humanitarian conventions and treaties. 

As a founding member of the UNHRC since 2006, the Philippines has been sitting as member for consecutive terms from 2007 to 2010 and from 2011 to 2014. – With Romina Cabrera

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
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