Philippine NGOs to raise drug war at UN rights council

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Philippine NGOs to raise drug war at UN rights council
Seat of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
UN Brief Photo

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine delegation from non-governmental organizations will provide testimonies on the Duterte administration's drug war at the 42nd United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Switzerland this month.

The delegation will be composed of 11 human rights defenders, faith leaders and relatives of the victims of the so-called war on drugs.

Their testimonies will provide support in the report making of UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet on the human rights situation in the Philippines, the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (Ecuvoice) said in a statement.

Aside from Ecuvoice, representatives from the Philippine UPR Watch, Karapatan, Rise Up for Life and for Rights, Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF), Promotion of Church Peoples Response, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and the Ramento Project for Rights Defenders will be participating in the UNHRC sessions in Geneva.

 Among the delegation is Marissa Lazaro, mother of a victim of the drug war. In 2017, the police killed her 20-year-old son after being mistaken for a robber and a drug suspect.

Lazaro claimed that what happened to her son has become a norm under the Duterte administration.

"I will sound the alarm in all platforms, from national to international redress mechanisms, to expose that the President's drug war is a sham," Lazaro said, accusing government officials of being liars and murderers.

The government has repeatedly said that the 5,375 drug personalities killed in law enforcement operations since July 2016 had violently resisted arrest. It has also said that extrajudicial killings are not a government policy and that all operations follow proper procedure.

Martial law in Mindanao

IFI Bishop Antonio Ablon is also seeking to discuss the declaration of martial law in Mindanao during the UNHRC sessions. The bishop has been receiving threats and harassment in Mindanao.

"Human rights and development work, ecumenical ministry to the poor and marginalized, exercise of freedom of expression and association, and all forms of political dissent and social criticism are being criminalized by the Duterte government through martial law, counterinsurgency programs and other draconian measures," Ablon said.

The group also criticized the latest statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. that there is "no chance" that he will allow the UN to come to the country and investigate alleged human rights violations linked to the drug war.

"I don't want them coming here and then saying that everything they have been saying, but have not proved, is true 'because we saw it,'" Locsin said in an interview with ANC's "Headstart" Wednesday.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay and EBF Executive Secretary Fr. Wilfredo Ruazol noted how this has become a "standard government reply."

Palabay and Ruazol also said the government has been presenting conflicting data alongside the government's "nanlaban" narrative on drug suspects.

"We are accused of disinformation but we are not the ones cowering behind presumptuous words and shallow insults. Human rights organizations confidently stand by the evidence and testimonies from victims of human rights violations and their families," Palabay and Ruazol said in a statement.

The Philippine delegation will also provide oral interventions on the reports of the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpus and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour.

While in Geneva, they will also conduct side events and meet with diplomatic missions, international rights groups and the Filipino migrant community.

In July, the UNHRC adopted a resolution tabled by Iceland mandating a "comprehensive" international review of the Philippines' drug war.

The resolution required Bachelet to prepare a comprehensive report on the country that will be presented at the 44th session of the council.

The Philippines previously rejected a call by UN special rapporteurs for a review of the rights situation in the country, claiming that it was "made in bad faith."

The DFA said the call for an independent probe into human rights violations in the Philippines was made by parties "who want to undermine dometic process and spread disinformation."

The Philippines also rejected the UNHRC resolution.





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