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UN rights body dissatisfied with PNoy’s human rights record?


By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper

As yours truly writes here earlier, justice secretary Leila De Lima, head the Philippine delegation to Geneva for the second “universal periodic review” (UPR) that opened on May 29, has only applause for the government’s compliance with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Centerpiece of her delivery is the impeachment and conviction of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.“This historic development shows that in the Philippines, no one is above the law as the Aquino administration pursues human rights, good governance, and anti-corruption measures,” declares De Lima, head of the 29-member delegation before the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the UPR.

Rappler.com, however, quotes the Philippine UPR Watch, describes that the UN Human Rights Council responded to De Lima with “muted disinterest”.

Philippine UPR Watch on the other hand, reports to the monitoring body on continuing abuses by Philippines security forces on civilians. It bewails that under the PNoy administration, there have been 76 unprosecuted cases of extrajudicial killings, and nine unresolved cases of enforced disappearances.

Aside from that, lawyer Harry Roque, professor of law at the UP Law Center, and head of the Southeast Asia Press Freedom Defense Center, earlier announced he would file a separate report that the Philippine government didn’t comply with the monitoring body’s earlier observation that its failure to decriminalize libel violated press freedom and was “incompatible” with the ICCPR. (Yours truly is yet to confirm whether Roque already did that accordingly.)

It appears that the UN Human Rights Council is unenthusiastic with De Lima’s report on the PNoy administration’s victory versus Corona. As a matter of diplomacy, the UPR Working Group has accepted the Philippine report however, it also endorsed 88 recommendations from 64 countries that urged the Philippines to improve its human rights records.

Carlos Conde, our colleague at, and later, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) happily notes: “No doubt there is greater interest in the Philippine’s human rights situation by UNHRC members.” (Conde later relinquished the chair in the NUJP to write full time for the New York Times. He now heads the Human Rights’s Asia division.
 
Among the Philippine UPR Watch delegation who attended the second UPR was Hernan Baldomero, councilor of Lezo, Aklan. He narrated the unsolved murder of his father Fernando Baldomero. The elder, provincial coordinator of Bayan Muna Partylist, was killed on July 6, 2010 shortly after his election to the Lezo municipal council. He was preparing to bring his son to school when a helmeted assailant shot him at close range inside his house. The attacker fled on motorcycle driven by a helmeted back up.
 
The slain Baldomero, ironically, a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) of PNoy Aquino, was replaced by his son to the municipal council of Lezo town.
 
Though the police charged a suspect, the Baldomero family was unconvinced. The younger Baldomero who reported on his father’s case (incidentally, the first political activist murdered under the PNoy administration) suspected the government’s counter-insurgency program that killed his father.   PNoy, during his first state of the nation address (SONA) July 30, 2012 declared the Baldomero case “solved”.
 
The Philippines’ deputy executive secretary Teofilo Pilando Jr. told the international human rights body that his country “deeply appreciated the honest observations and constructive recommendations” from 64 member states.
 
Rappler.com reports that “the official Philippine delegation accepted 53 of the 88 recommendations made by 64 countries.” It adds that the Human Rights Watch Philppines has observed that of the 45 recommendations that the Philippines accepted, at least 23 were on impunity, extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances.
 
Pilando assures the rights body that the Aquino government is already implementing eight of the recommendations, including the ratification of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, and other treaties relating to human trafficking and the rights of women, children, migrant workers and seafarers.
 
Pilando added that the PNoy government had started discussions with the Commission on Human Rights to immediately set up  a “tripartite UPR monitoring group” because the government wanted “broader participation of civil societies” to ensure Philippine compliance with the UNHRC.
 
This is the  second review by the  UNHRC since its formation in 2008, on the human rights records of the UN’s 192-member countries.
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