Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the response of Amnesty International to the preliminary findings of UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the response of Amnesty International to the preliminary findings of UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan

Just as there are constant changes on the human rights framework in an ever-dynamic country, laws and policies that aim to address challenges on promoting and protecting the dignity of every Filipino should be adaptive to these shifts in society.

The Commission on Human Rights acknowledges the call of Amnesty International in its statement urging the Marcos Jr. administration to act on the preliminary findings of United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Irene Khan during her official visit to the Philippines.[1]

Threats to freedom of opinion and expression taint the very core of Philippine democracy, which is rooted in truth and justice. As such, the Commission highlights the need to recognize these pressing issues in order to craft measures which concern the rights to expression of the broader public, especially of the press and marginalised sectors.

While the Commission fully supports the present administration’s commitment to be more responsive to human rights concerns, we remain on the lookout for the government’s timely actions to hold itself accountable in fulfilling its duties to assure the Filipinos of their respective freedoms. We are positive that the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur will be viewed as non-negotiables to further improve the human rights situation of the country. Such will also show the Philippines’ fulfillment of its obligation to respect human rights standards at the national and international levels.

In the midst of recurring fears towards laws and policies which may be weaponized against one’s right to opinion and expression, it is therefore the responsibility of the Philippine government to respond to this clamor by taking immediate action based on the actual needs of its citizens.

This discussion, however, should not be seen as a backward step towards the country’s overall efforts to improve its human rights situation. Rather, it should be seen as opportunities for the advancement of the Philippines’ adherence to its rights-based commitments.

The Commission hopes that the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur will pave the way towards a safer environment for Filipinos to express themselves and to hold the line to defend the truth. As such, we expect that the Philippine government will ensure that a meaningful, transparent, and productive ecosystem of dialogue between duty-bearers and rights-holders will coexist with transparency and accountability across the country.###

––––––

[1] Amnesty urges Marcos to strengthen protection of right to expression following UN visit | 2 February 2024 https://www.amnesty.org.ph/2024/02/amnesty-urges-marcos-to-strengthen-protection-of-right-to-expression-following-un-visit/