Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the report on the human rights situation in the Philippines by the UN Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the report on the human rights situation in the Philippines by the UN Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) welcomes the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

As the country’s national human rights institution, we call on the government to acknowledge and address its observations with definitive steps necessary to establish transparency and accountability, especially for the number of human rights violations noted.

The Commission has consistently reminded the government to address these grave concerns over the pace and scale of deaths linked to the campaign against illegal drugs. We continue to condemn the harmful and invidious language of high-level officials that have encouraged hatred and incentivized violence. We have pointed out the over reliance on strong-arm governance, which has led to many human rights violations, denials of due process, and deviations from the rule of law.

While the climate of impunity is not the sole creation of the current administration, present attitudes and behaviors toward human rights have allowed it to acutely manifest today. The government has a continuing obligation to pursue social justice, uphold human dignity and rights, and put an end to impunity for all human rights violations. It is the duty of the Philippine government to show adherence to human rights principles and standards and act on the findings of the High Commission—fully noting that the said report has considerably relied on government reports and data, alongside the views of civil society and CHR.

CHR continues to offer its partnership and cooperation towards accountability for human rights violations. We advise that a multidisciplinary and holistic method of governance through the human rights-based approach will guide the government in addressing the problems of Philippine society.

We ask Government to respect the CHR’s constitutional mandates on human rights promotion and protection. We urge cooperation in independent investigations, the creation of an enabling civic space, and protection of human rights defenders so we can collectively work for the human rights cause.

The Commission continues to monitor developments following the release of the report and the presentation of the High Commissioner during the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council this month, June 2020.

As we await the response of government and the reception of the members of the Human Rights Council, we ask government to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders on the ground and enable them to express their opinions as they advocate for the promotion and protection of human rights of all persons, especially the disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable. We will be closely monitoring possible reprisals stemming from this report as we heed the High Commissioner’s recommendations to improve the human rights situation of the country. ###