As Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano described the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC’s) decision to adopt the Manila human rights report card on September 23 as a ‘big victory,’ Senator Risa Hontiveros chose to denounce it as one on Monday.
“Kung may fake news, may pekeng tagumpay (If there is fake news, there is also a fake victory),” Hontiveros said in a statement.
According to her, only human rights violators will join the celebration of the ‘big victory.’
In a statement at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Cayetano welcomed the final adoption of the Third Philippine Universal Period Review (UPR) Report by the 47-member body.
“The final adoption of our UPR Report during the 36th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva demonstrates that the Philippines has nothing to hide with its human rights record,” the Secretary said.
Cayetano emphasized that the Philippines strives to be committed in protecting the Filipinos from the “scourges of drugs and criminality” as respect and protection of human rights.
Hontiveros, on the other hand, questioned how the rejection of 44 recommendations to address the country’s extrajudicial killings, 23 recommendations against death penalty, the dropping of the criminal age liability to 13, and the recommendations to protect the lives and security of journalists and human rights defenders, can be called a victory.
In total, 154 recommendations were rejected by the rights body.
“Walang tagumpay na nangyari sa UPR process. Talo ang karapatang pantao. Talo ang sambayanan (There was no victory in the UPR process. Human rights lost. The people lost), she said.
Ambassador Evan Garcia, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, explained that the Philippines could only note the said 154 recommendations because the country cannot guarantee or commit at this time to their fruition given that the results of processes required to implement them are beyond the sole control of any of the branches of the government.
“This is specifically true for recommendations that pertain to legislative action, which would require consultative processes with stakeholders,” he said.
Ambassador Garcia said that the adoption was “the result of Senator Cayetano and Deputy Executive Secretary’s Mernardo Guevara’s efforts on clearly and comprehensively explaining to the council, the Philippine policies and practices, including those in connection with the campaign against illegal drugs.”
The UPR is the world’s transparent principal review mechanism where member-states discuss their human rights policies and plans and exchange views on how to improve human rights through international cooperation, as sovereign equals.
Forty-two states are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 states each. The third cycle of the UPR will cover all UN Member States and run until 2021.
The Philippines was one of the first 47 members of the then newly created HRC in 2006. It is currently serving its 4th term as member in the Human Rights Council.