October 8, 2022
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 45th Session adopted a resolution on October 7, 2020, urging the Philippine government to receive “technical assistance” and “capacity-building” as well as undertake “independent, full, and transparent” investigations to ensure accountability for abuses and violations of human rights by State actors. The Philippine government pledged to abide by the resolution.
Shortly after the release of the UNHRC resolution, however, the state’s inhumanity was on display in how they forcibly separated political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino from her three-month old daughter Baby River who subsequently died. There were later successive arrests and killings of activists and development workers – i.e., the arrest of peasant volunteer worker Amanda Echanis and her then one-month old son Baby Randall (December 2), the arrest of seven activists ironically on International Human Rights Day (December 10), the extra-judicial killing of Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan and her husband (December 17), the killing of nine Tumanduk indigenous people and the arrest of 16 more in Panay (December 30), and the Bloody Sunday massacre that claimed the lives of seven activists in provinces adjoining the capital.
There was no progress until the end of the Duterte administration in 2022. Just a hundred days into the new administration of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator, there are already disturbing signs that the situation will not get better.
Marcos Jr.’s has already said that the Philippines will not rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking to investigate the grave human rights abuses committed by the Duterte administration in its bloody war on drugs as well as against activists and rights defenders. This sends a strong signal that impunity will continue. It belies his pledge to protect and give the highest regard to human rights.
There is likewise no action against the arbitrary arrest and detention of activists and rights defenders, enforced disappearances, and violence against children caught amid armed conflicts. Red-tagging continues.
Last June 22, Philippine Army soldiers tried to hunt down BAYAN Aklan Chairperson George Calaor and its spokesperson, Kim Sin Tugna. In Ilocos region, last July 23, land rights defender Genaro Dela Cruz of Alyansa Dagiti Mannalon iti Ilocos Norte, Antonino Pugyao of Stop Exploitation, and Angelica Galimba, Kabataan Partylist second nominee were harassed and surveilled. Farmer-leader and trainer Lucia Capaducio of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) and Joe March Villarante of the Community Empowerment Resource Network (CERNET) were also recently accosted and intimidated.
Just a few days ago, Percy Mabasa, a hard-hitting journalist and a critic of tje Duterte and Marcos Jr. administrations, was fatally shot and killed in Las Piñas by unidentified assailants. Journalist assassinations “strike at the very core of media freedom and can produce a chilling effect that curtails the ability of journalists to report news freely and safely,” the embassies of Canada and the Netherlands said in a joint statement.
According to Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has dealt a “serious blow” to victims of abuse in the Philippines by failing to press for ongoing scrutiny of the country’s rights situation.
“The Marcos Jr. administration can do many things to uphold human rights even beyond the resolution of the UNHRC. Still, we know how the abysmal Marcos family never acknowledged the direness of the Martial Law,” CPDG spokesperson Liza Maza told.
“His administration is not a blank slate unless he discontinues the drug war, rejoins the International Criminal Court, and holds Duterte accountable for these injustices,” Maza ended.#eof#