MANILA – A 16-member delegation left for Geneva, Switzerland Thursday morning on a mission to present the state of human rights in the Philippines during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) slated Monday (May 8).
The team, led by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, will present the human rights-based development programs of the Philippines and measures to fulfill its obligations to the eight international treaties ratified in the past years.
The delegation includes representatives of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Health (DOH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Presidential Communications Office (PCO), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
Cayetano, in a statement, said the UPR would be the perfect opportunity to correct the misconceptions of the international community regarding the alleged human rights violations of the present administration.
“There are a lot of facts that need to be clarified and put in proper context so our friends in the United Nations and the international community would understand the extent of problems of corruption, illegal drugs, and criminality in the Philippines,” Cayetano said.
“We want to share the overall picture of our human rights-based development programs, especially our gains, priorities in the coming years, as well as the major challenges at hand.”
The senator, meanwhile, pointed out that the period under review covers five years of the Aquino administration and 10 months of the Duterte administration.
“Human rights issues were raised by various sectors not just in this administration,” Cayetano said.
The UPR happens every three to four years, where the states present their human rights records to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The last time the Philippines participated in the UPR was in 2012.
Besides the state of human rights in the country, the Philippine delegation will also present the state’s policies on labor; the environment; and vulnerable sectors such as women, children, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and the elderly in the country.
Cayetano has reiterated that human rights involve not only the rights of criminals but also the security of civilians.
“Human security and national security is part of human rights and we will endeavor the whole team to UN, Europe, US to the whole world that the President is working hard to make each and every Filipino safe for our country,” Cayetano said in a previous Facebook live video.
He pointed out that because illegal drugs affect 3 million to 4 million Filipinos, it would be what he described as “a gross human rights violation” if the Duterte administration “would not do anything about it”