Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Evan P. Garcia delivered the Philippines’ country statement at the High-Level Segment of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland last March 3.
Undersecretary Garcia stated that the Administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III was built “on a strong foundation of respect for human rights” and highlighted the Philippines’ steady progress in fulfilling international human rights obligations.
He updated the Council on the Government’s actions to implement recommendations stemming from its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), among others:
- creation of a high-level inter-agency committee to solve verified cases extra-legal killings;
- passage of the Martial Law Compensation Act;
- strengthening of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act;
- enactment of the Domestic Workers Act and ratification of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers;
- improvements to the penal system; and
- strengthening of child protection measures.
Garcia recalled the Philippine tradition of promoting and protecting human rights stemming from the beginnings of its membership in the UN system, to the peaceful 1986 People Power revolution, to the present day.
In relation to democratic transitions and other recent developments, Undersecretary Garcia called for “sobriety and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.”
Garcia thanked the international community for its solidarity to the Philippines and the Filipino people in the aftermath of super-typhoon Haiyan. He underscored the vulnerabilities of countries like the Philippines to extreme weather events and natural disasters caused by climate change which have severe impacts on the human rights of individuals and communities.
“The Philippines will continue to voice out concerns about climate change and the imperative of international responsibility and cooperation…and ensure that climate change and human rights shall remain on the agenda of the Human Rights Council,” Garcia stated.
Garcia also informed the Council of the “irreversible momentum of securing a just and lasting peace in Mindanao” and the signing in the near future of a Final Comprehensive Peace Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Garcia noted that the Government’s peace efforts “promote human rights…strengthen national unity as well as set the stage for more inclusive development.”
As a steadfast advocate for enhancing migrant workers’ rights, regardless of their status, the Philippines called for greater ratification by destination countries of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families as “a core international human rights treaty.”
He noted that migrants in crises are especially vulnerable and their human rights must be protected.
He informed that the Philippines leads UN initiatives to combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children and promotes the development of an ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP).
He underscored the Philippines’ position the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration must be implemented in accordance with international human rights treaties and standards.
Garcia also took note that poverty continues to be a major challenge to the full enjoyment of human rights and flagged that all states have responsibilities to help eradicate poverty in connection with elaboration of the post-Millennium Development Goals development agenda.
Lastly, Undersecretary Garcia expressed the Philippines’ support for a Human Rights Council based on genuine dialogue and cooperation, and constructive partnership and understanding for human rights.
He announced the Philippines’ candidature to the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2016-2018 and requested the support of international partners for the Philippine candidature.
Photo and article courtesy of DFA press release, 04 March 2014.