On the Report of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines

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At the Forum of the Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines on the Report of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines, 5 June 2020

Dear Compatriots and Friends,

I welcome and appreciate highly the report of the UN Human Rights Office on the horrific human rights situation in the Philippines under the Duterte regime.

The report states clearly that HR violations have been committed in the name of national security and war on illegal drugs and under encouragement by the highest officials with their public statements and official documents and that there is the reign of impunity.

The HR violations are well described. They include vilification, planting of evidence, warrantless arrests and extrajudicial killings. They are documented by 893 written submissions from reliable entities, including human rights organizations, the surviving victims themselves and witnesses to the crimes.

The recommendations include a call to the Duterte regime to rectify the dire human rights situation and render justice to the victims. But we know the limits of such a call in the face of a regime that is hell-bent on ruling through state terrorism and aiming for a full-blown fascist dictatorship.

I hope that the report can encourage the Filipino people and all the peoples in solidarity with them to demand respect for human rights and justice for the direct victims as well as for the people who have been subjected to systematic mass intimidation since Duterte came to power in 2016.

The report is highly significant, relevant and timely for the Filipino people in relation to the ongoing situation and what needs to be done. It is mainly and essentially a condemnation of human right violations and impunity under the Duterte regime. 

My co-speaker Coni Ledesma has clarified that the New People’s Army, as a responsible instrument of the people’s democratic government, adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She has made the clarification to debunk the false claims of the Philippine reactionary government in one isolated paragraph.

The whole report serves to expose and oppose the objective of Duterte in railroading the so-called anti-terrorism bill which should be more appropriately called a bill of state terrorism and which practically seeks to replace the bill of rights with a bill of state terrorism. This bill is full of unconstitutional provisions and is aimed at the perpetration of far more human rights violations with greater impunity.

It is immediately motivated by Duterte’s plan to stop complaints against the brazen theft of hundreds of billions of pesos for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and providing for medical requirements and giving food and cash assistance to some 18 million people deprived of livelihood and income by the lockdown.

But of course, the overriding and long-term motivation of the Duterte regime is to silence all kinds of criticism, complaint and opposition in order to perpetuate itself and attain absolute power and absolute corruption through fascist dictatorship.

The report inspires the Filipino people to undertake concerted actions to demand respect for human rights and for justice and cause the ouster of the tyrannical regime because of its failure to heed the people’s cry for freedom and justice.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is expected to issue soon her preliminary examination, including conclusions and recommendations, on the complaints filed against Duterte and his accomplices for crimes against humanity and human rights violations. 

With the report condemning the Duterte regime for human rights violations and impunity, the prosecutor of the ICC is assured that it can fully carry out its current task of preliminary examination of the complaints against Duterte and his criminal accomplices towards the preliminary investigation for the purpose of prosecution before the ICC.

I presume that the report of the UN Human Rights Office will further encourage the peoples of the world to extend their solidarity and support for the Filipino people in their struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights.

I therefore urge the Filipino compatriots and their close solidarity friends to work harder and intensify their campaign to inform the broadest range of peoples abroad and gain their moral and concrete support for the Filipino people’s struggle. ###

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