International support sought to end EJK, other rights abuses in PH
MANILA, Philippines–Human rights defenders from the Philippine UPR Watch have appealed for international support to put an end to extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the country.
The appeal comes ahead of the adoption of recommendations made by United Nations member states during the fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the state of human rights in the Philippines in November 2022.
The group, co-led by National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers chairperson and International Association of Democratic Lawyers interim president Edre Olalia, cited the report by the University of the Philippines Third World Studies Center which monitored 227 drug war-related killings under the Marcos administration as proof that the state-sponsored killings in the country have not stopped.
During a side event to the UNHRC meetings, Olalia said, “We don’t want to come back here. We don’t want to come back again and again and again. [The killings] must stop. Whatever the administration, it must stop.”
Other speakers at the event included National Council of Churches in the Philippines for Faith, Witness and Service program secretary Mervin Sol Toquero and recent abduction survivor April Dyan Gumanao, Region 7 coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.
Toquero decried the weaponization of laws like the Anti-Terrorism Act, in the context of the government’s all-out war or counter-insurgency program, instead of addressing the roots of the armed conflict.
Gumanao, who was abducted by suspected State agents, said that their struggle for justice is far from over and that they still need international support to fight for justice.
Human rights campaigner and Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay called on States and international NGOs to continue to monitor the Philippine government’s actions on the UPR recommendations.
Palabay stated that “there are no accountability benchmarks and tools in the implementation of the UNJP, the joint program may not be the most responsive mechanism for the delivery of justice and accountability,” and that a more decisive action from the Council, including a resolution to conduct independent investigation in the Philippines, is imperative.
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