UNHRC need not probe rights situation in PH: Andanar

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

August 28, 2020, 5:36 pm

<p>PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar. <em>(File photo)</em></p>

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar. (File photo)

MANILA – There is no need for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to look into the human rights situation in the Philippines, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said on Friday.

Andanar issued the statement after around 62 civil society organizations urged UNHRC to launch an immediate and independent “international investigative mechanism” on the supposed human rights violations committed in the Philippines since 2016.

“The Philippines’ human rights situation does not merit any external investigative mechanism being called for on the basis of specific cases where investigations are ongoing,” he said in a statement.

In a joint letter dated August 27 and addressed to UNHRC, some 62 civil society groups expressed their “continued grave concern” over the alleged “ongoing extrajudicial executions and other serious human rights violations in the context of the ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines”.

The groups said the acts were fueled by “incitement to violence and discrimination by the highest levels of government with near-total impunity”.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Free Legal Assistance Group, Karapatan, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and Reporters Without Borders were among the organizations that asked UNHRC to carry out an independent international investigative mechanism on the Philippines’ human rights situation.

Andanar, however, said the Duterte government, through the publication of the Philippine Human Rights Situationer, has already presented “thorough and scrupulous" information on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“Apart from this, we have rigorously addressed allegations of human rights violations in the Human Rights Council and in other relevant fora. We believe that these engagements at all levels have been useful in presenting the real human rights situation in the country and the context on the ground,” he said.

Andanar also ensured that “well-established and functioning accountability mechanisms” have already been in place.

He added that the current administration maintains its commitment and international obligation of enhancing and strengthening structures aimed at upholding human rights and the rule of law in the country.

“The administration has ensured the steady increase of public budgets to strengthen these structures, as a key pillar of its good governance agenda. This includes the increase of the budget of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), an independent human rights institution in the past three years,” Andanar said.

Andanar then appealed to the civil society and international community to support the Duterte administration’s efforts in protecting human rights in the Philippines.

He said the government is also open to engaging all parties to address allegations of human rights violations in the country within the framework of the domestic accountability mechanisms.

“We recognize that the advancement of government’s constructive cooperation with the CHR, civil society, and international partners, including the United Nations will be important as we further promote the comprehensive facets of human rights, accountability, and rule of law in the Philippines,” Andanar said. (PNA)