Rights groups cheer EU’s ‘timely, forceful message’
Human rights groups on Friday welcomed a resolution issued by members of the European Parliament (MEP) that called on the Philippine government to put an end to extrajudicial killings in President Duterte’s war on drugs.
The groups, however, also expressed concerns that the continued condemnation of the international community of the human rights situation in the Philippines would not only undermine the country’s political standing but also the economic benefits it was getting from treaties and international agreements.
“It is a timely and forceful message from the European Union parliamentarians putting President Duterte and his backers on notice—that continued grave abuses will come at a price,” Carlos Conde of the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
While the administration slammed the resolution as meddling in Philippine affairs, Ellecer Carlos, spokesperson for In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement, said all treaty bodies have a right to express their views on the Philippine situation.
“The Philippines is a state party in eight out of nine international human rights treaties,” Carlos said. “Essentially, [the human rights situation] has become an international concern.”
Other human rights advocates criticized the reactions of government officials to MEP’s resolution.
“But we are glad that however this administration wants to keep its foul deeds under wraps, it will still come out,” said Wilnor Papa, human rights officer for Amnesty International Philippines.
He called on international groups to continue raising their voices against the “killings, impunity and nonaccountability in this country” to force the administration “to do what is right.”
Papa, however, was worried that the increasingly bad image of the country might backfire on its own citizens.
“Any country would like to portray itself as stable in the eyes of the international community,” he said. “The government must understand that our economic situation will not advance if our political freedoms are not protected.”
The European Parliament also urged the European Union and its member states to consider calling for the removal of the Philippines from the UN Human Rights Council.
“Once we are kicked out of the UNHRC, there will be implications in our trade agreements,” Papa said.
He said fewer countries, particular from Europe, would be encouraged to invest in the country if it showed political instability and human rights problems.
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