Filipino rights defenders in UN to support calls for NTF-ELCAC abolition

March 7, 2024

Philippine UPR Watch Delegation via AlterMidya

6 March 2024

GENEVA, Switzerland—A delegation of Filipino human rights defenders is attending the 55th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) in Geneva, Switzerland to support calls for the abolition of the Philippine government’s counter-insurgency agency and review of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Following two recent visits of UN special rapporteurs who denounced government’s red-tagging practices and recommended the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), the Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch network said they are attending the session to testify on continuing human rights violations under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government.

“We are here to inform the international community that the findings by both special rapporteur on climate change and human rights Ian Fry last November and special rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion Irene Khan last February that human rights violations continue are true,” Center for Environmental Concerns executive director Lia Mai Torres said.

Philippine UPR Watch said the rest of UN member states must be informed that both experts recommended the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC and called for the review of the anti-terror law that are being used against human rights defenders and other civilians.

Aiming to deliver oral interventions during interactive dialogues and general debates as well as speak at various side events of the UNHRC session, the Philippine UPR Watch said they will also meet with various representatives of UN member states and international civil society organizations interested on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“The Marcos Jr. government wants to paint a rosy picture of so-called improved rhetoric and improved conditions but we are here both as victims and witnesses that anti-people policies have not changed as evidenced by the exit statements by Mr. Fry and Ms. Khan,” Torres added.

Among the main topics in the 55th UN HRC session are discussions on countering religious hatred and social security and public services.

With the Philippine UPR Watch delegation is Rev. Glofie Baluntong of the United Methodist Church who was among the first to be falsely charged by the government under the controversial Anti-Terror Law of 2020.

Based on an earlier trumped-up charge in August 2021, Rev. Baluntong was slapped with an alleged violation of the Anti-Terror Act in August 2022 which was recently dismissed by the public prosecutor for lack of merit.

References: Lia Mai Torres/Center for Environmental Concerns (+639097273371)

Atty. Ma. Sol Taule/Karapatan (+639452966916)