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

February 17, 2023

Opening Remarks of CHR Chairperson Atty. Richard P. Palpal-latoc, 17 February 2023

Distinguished guests, our partners, the Civil Society Organizations, colleagues from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Signe Poulsen and Ms Arbena Kuriu, fellow human rights defenders, friends, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant morning to all!

It is an honor to speak before all of you today, on how best to further our advocacies specifically towards a shared goal of upholding, protecting and promoting human rights.

Among the works that the Commission is most proud of last year, was the Joint Recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights and the Civil Society Organizations to the 4th Universal Periodic Review (of the Philippines) held in November of 2022. Highlighted therein is the country’s most compelling issues on the right to life, development, freedom of association and expression, a healthy environment, the worsening threat resulting from climate change. Other equally important issues that have been focused on and included in the review were those that concern the marginalized sectors of our society, mainly the persons with disabilities, women, elderly, children, homeless street families and individuals, informal workers, persons of diverse SOGIE, the indigenous people, and our Muslim brothers in the Bangsamoro region.

We are thankful that the international community was able to hear our recommendations and appreciate the same as these ultimately affect the ability of Filipinos to live a life with dignity. We are grateful to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, through the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gustavo Gonzalez and his team headed by Ms. Signe Poulsen, our Senior Human Rights Adviser for bringing together this group today and the international community months before the scheduled UPR in November last year.

Fast forward to March 2023, during the 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council, we should be able to know government’s official response to the recommendations propounded by the international community during the 4th Universal Periodic Review.

It is encouraging to note the Philippine government’s readiness to engage with the UPR. Likewise, we welcome the initial report that the Philippines will accept 215 out of the 289 total recommendations put forth by the international community.

Having said these, we must be able to monitor the implementation of said recommendations through close coordination with the government. We are glad to know that the present administration is willing to see this through. Its faithful execution of the recommendations would certainly manifest the seriousness of its commitment to end grave human rights violations.

As we gather today, let us be one in the call for the collective and active participation of all stakeholders in carrying out the courses of actions including in last year’s periodic review of the Philippines. We should be able to conduct evidence and indicator-based collection of factual data to assist in this effort. Mutual dialogues between the government, the CHR and the civil society organizations are imperative to getting the necessary work done.

As always, we at the CHR will stand together with human rights defenders and advocates in the hopes of achieving the noble purpose of the UPR to protect, promote and uphold human rights in the Philippines, leaving no one behind-the worthiest of all causes. Together let us make a meaningful difference in the lives of many. I know in my heart that it can be done. This much the Filipinos deserve.

Thank you and good day.