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Human rights violations continuing in Philippines
Published on: Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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Human rights violations continuing in Philippines
Philippine UPR Watch holds mass actions for Universal Periodic Review on the Philippines.
MANILA: Filipino human rights defenders have maintained that human rights violations are continuing in the Philippines under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

Speaking at a side event of the 52nd Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland last week, the Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch said there had been 227 drug war-related killings since Marcos assumed office last year.

“What I’m saying is that one killing is one too many and 227 is not a small number,” Philippine UPR Watch convenor Mervin Toquero told ANC’s “Rundown” Monday.

“Aside from drug-related killings, there are also human rights violations that are happening against human rights defenders,” added Toquero, also National Council of Churches in the Philippines for Faith, Witness and Service program secretary.

The group cited the report by the University of the Philippines Third World Studies Centre.

Among the speakers in the side event was abduction survivor April Dyan Gumanao, regional coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

Gumanao and her partner Armand Dayoha were abducted by suspected state agents as they disembarked from a ferry at the Cebu port in January.

Gumanao said they were held for five days, interrogated relentlessly while blindfolded and handcuffed, and underwent psychological torture.

To date, their abductors are still at large. The police have denied involvement in the incident.

“It’s very important for us to amplify our call for justice and accountability not only in the Philippines but also in the international field,” she told “Rundown”.

“For us victims, it’s very difficult to seek for justice and accountability, to ask for assistance from our authorities who are the very persons suspected to be the ones who have done that.”

For Cristina Palabay, also Philippine UPR Watch convenor, the measures that the government took to address human rights abuses have been superficial.

“I think the steps taken so far have been superficial. At the same time, the steps fail to strike at the heart of the root causes of such human rights violations,” she said.

Palabay said policies on the drug war and counterinsurgency programme had not been rescinded.

“Government actors and perpetrators will continue doing the crimes that they do because they are not made accountable. They simply can get away with the crimes done the past years,” she added.

The Philippine government is urged to legislate the proposed Human Rights Defenders’ Protection Act, which seeks to protect human rights defenders from red-tagging, threats and reprisal in relation to their work or activities.

In response, CHR chairman Richard Palpal-latoc admitted rights violations had not stopped.

“With regard to human rights abuses, I can’t deny that there are still violations. We are conducting meetings with civil society organizations. They confirmed the incidents on violations of human rights,” he also told “Rundown”.

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