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Reply to UN by Duterte administration: No rights violations in PH

/ 06:52 PM September 23, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte denied allegations of human rights violations and was instead “enabling” rights protection, according to a report by the United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Guterres, in the report, said the Philippine government had submitted a response to accusations it was abetting attacks on human rights workers and groups as alleged in the UNHRC.

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The Philippine response was given on June 21, 2019 yet.

The UNHRC had adopted a resolution, approved by a narrow vote, last July 11 calling for an international investigation of alleged escalation of human rights violations in the Philippines largely because of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

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The Duterte administration response covered accusations that it was retaliating against the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), detaining Sen. Leila de Lima arbitrarily and abetting or directing attacks on human rights groups and workers.

The Philippine government, according to Guterres’ report, maintained that “contrary to allegations of reprisals, it has further cultivated enabling conditions and environment for the work of the commission,” referring to the CHR.

As proof of this, the Philippine government cited “an unprecedented increase” in the CHR budget in 2017 by more than 60 percent, the Guterres report said.

It added that the Philippine government also continued to defend the detention of De Lima, who has been in jail for more than two years after she was charged with complicity in a narcotic trade that, until now, continued to thrive in Philippine jails.

Guterres’ report said the Philippine government “provided detailed information on the legal proceedings and the status of the ongoing cases” against De Lima “indicating that it is improper to intervene with regard to her detention and prosecution.”

In De Lima’s case, Guterres report said the Philippine government expressed “concerns for the independence and impartiality of the judicial process” which might be influenced by international clamor for De Lima’s release.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in August 2018 adopted an opinion calling De Lima’s detention as “arbitrary” and pushing for her release.

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The working group also asked that De Lima be “afforded compensation” and her detention be investigated.

In his 2018 report, Guterres noted that several members of the rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights and other indigenous peoples’ representatives were tagged as “terrorists” in a petition at the Philippine justice department to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army as terrorist organizations.

Several Karapatan members had suffered from threats, harassment and intimidation as a result of Red-tagging, or branding individuals and groups as communists, and spread of false accusations through flyers and social media.

The Duterte administration reply, however, insisted that Karapatan was “unlawfully operating since its corporate existence and registration have long been ordered revoked for the non-filing of reports.”

The Philippine government reply also touched on concerns about the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which was in response to Duterte’s all-out war on communist rebels and instruction to end the insurgency by the end of his term in 2022 by all means.

The Philippine government, said the Guterres report, laid blame on “terrorist organizations” which “exploit” indigenous peoples and rights defenders, referring to rebels as terrorists.

The Left, still according to the Philippine government response, “misuse the international system and its sympathies” and try to turn the tables on state efforts to “uphold the rule of law” by branding these as “acts of reprisals.”

Duterte, shortly after announcing that he was ending talks for a peaceful settlement with communist rebels, declared he was also targetting non combatant leftist groups and individuals in the all-out war on NPA and CPP because they were rebels, too.

The talks were close to an agreement on comprehensive social, economic and judicial reforms, that included an industrialization program that would stop the export of unrefined ore and the use of Philippine minerals for finished products that would have higher value in international markets./TSB

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