Statement on the 4th cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights record of the Philippine government
On 14 November 2022, at Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) conducted the 4th cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights record of the Philippine government under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte, from 2017 to 2022. In this light, IBON International reiterates people’s concerns over the culture of violence and impunity entrenched by the previous Duterte administration through a brutal, anti-poor drug campaign, militarist counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism policies.
We stand against the denial of the human rights situation in the country by current Philippine Justice secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, speaking for the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte at the UPR. We reject his false claims on the government’s efforts to address inequalities and uphold people’s rights. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor even pointed out, in a forum in Geneva last 10 November, that the Philippine government failed to act on previous UPR recommendations on protecting human rights defenders, investigating human rights violations, and promoting a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
The Marcos-Duterte administration continues to violate people’s rights. Peasant and Indigenous communities are militarised and displaced to facilitate corporate resource extraction and mega-infrastructure projects. In October, thousands of peasants and Indigenous peoples were forced to evacuate their communities in Himamaylan, Negros island due to indiscriminate bombings by the military. In the same month, unionists Benjamin Cordero, Kara Lenina Taggaoa, and Larry Valbuena were arrested on trumped-up charges. They were immediately released after public clamour.
The national counterinsurgency policy led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) continues to legitimise attacks and incite violence against activists, human rights defenders, people’s organisations, civil society, journalists, and dissenters in general. Recently, following the “red-tagging” of an Indigenous Peoples organisation in the Cordillera region by former NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy-Partosa, a provincial government official in the same region issued an official order that offered reward money to state forces that “capture, arrest or kill” communists. Badoy was previously cited in contempt by the Philippines’ highest court after she threatened the judge who junked the government case to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines and its Maoist guerilla army as terrorist organisations. Red-tagging poses serious threats to its victims, including legal professionals, with at least 59 lawyers killed under the Duterte administration.
IBON International urges the international community to heighten support for people’s efforts in engaging international mechanisms, such as the UPR, to exact accountability from state perpetrators and deliver justice to victims amid the failure of domestic mechanisms. We support calls for the prosecution of Duterte and other perpetrators under the International Criminal Court for their crimes against humanity, and a UN probe on the dire human rights situation in the country. We also continue to support the people’s campaign to defund and abolish the NTF-ELCAC for its harmful record.
As reiterated by Investigate PH, an international initiative that documented 50 emblematic cases of human rights violations in the country, we urge states and international institutions to halt bilateral and multilateral loans and grants, and military assistance to the Philippine government amid its rampant rights violations. IBON International advocates development founded on human rights, and we hope for solidarity from the international community. #