Stakeholders’ Review of the 4th UPR Cycle of the Philippines

February 17, 2023

Closing Remarks, CPDG Vice President Rochelle M. Porras, 17 February 2023

Thank you to all that worked on this, it has been months, for many of us many many months of engagements for the 4th cycle of UPR, 250 recommendations.

We have much to do but this small step of success must also be celebrated, and we celebrate this with the communities that we serve. The active engagement of CSOs in spite of the Human Rights situation in the Philippines is a neon sign that the people want change, want improvements. As we have experienced by now, one path to fulfill the change that we want is through maximizing mechanisms that are open for CSOs to engage with. After all, CSOs are important stakeholders in ensuring rights based development.

Let me give special mention to those who joined us online, physically, to our dedicated speakers and the CPDG Secretariat.

To Chairperson CHR Atty. Richard Palpal-latoc

UN Office High Commissioner for Human Rights Signe Poulsen and

CHR Policy and Advisory Office Director Atty. Gemma Parojinog

Let me share the synthesis of all our inputs today:

The Recommendations are mostly still in generic terms, we need more concrete steps especially with regard to the anti-people policies expressed in our environmental concerns, lack of access to health and education services, and on the Administration’s policies relating to counter-terrorism.

Deferred gender recommendations also speaks volumes on the state of gender rights in the country, undermining the important role of women and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Linkages and harmony of what we can do is very ripe, such as engagements of UPR and ILO HLTM, that tackles Labour Agenda including decent and regular work, living wages and freedom of association, just transition, and also the rights of women workers, migrants, informal workers and agricultural workers.

The planning processes, including public infrastructure and social services as well as social protection, must seriously consider also the participation of vulnerable sectors, such as the persons with disabilities, the elderly, those in the informal sectors, and the urban and rural poor, and the youth who will inherit the system.

There should be stronger monitoring, accountability mechanisms and measures to be taken to ensure the perpetrators are held accountable, social justice is served, and victims and survivors are able to access support services. These are much needed for the cases forwarded migrant workers, indigenous peoples, women, their children, and the LGBTQIA+ communities, trade unionists, environmental and land rights defenders and indigenous peoples.

Moving forward:

Thank you for kick-starting the discussions on the next steps, Atty. Gemma Parojinog.

In terms of what we can do immediately and in the short term, we can do forum-hopping on the UPR recommendations with the respective government agencies, policy officers, legislators, the diplomatic community and institutional partners from among the UN agencies. Also possibly a training on identifying indicators to effectively monitor implementation of the accepted recommendations for the 4th cycle of the UPR.

Truthfully, civil society organizations are fighting a big battle, most noticeable and felt because of the shrinking of civic space. This makes it more difficult and creates challenges for the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The CSO Manifesto of the Council for Development Governance. It is, after all, a manifesto for enabling and strengthening civic space in the country. We encourage everyone to endorse the manifesto, and our demand to respect, protect and defend and expand civic space so that we can do our work effectively.

Our 3 Key Asks:

Uphold the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of the people.

Develop and implement policies and mechanisms that ensure the inclusive, independent and decisive participation of CSOs in development and governance discussions, from local to national level.

And, support CSO efforts to improve their own effectiveness, transparency and accountability to the people and constituencies they serve through enabling policies, capacity development and financing.

We at CPDG commit to promoting the people’s collective rights and working towards an enabling environment that can further increase our contribution to people-oriented governance and development.

We remain very hopeful that our reports, recommendations and more importantly, our collective effort in the promotion and protection of human rights, especially of the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors, are useful and very relevant guiding tools for the Administration to faithfully and genuinely fulfill its obligations with respect to international conventions and human rights treaties.

Thank you!