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Sunday, 24 September 2017 00:00 Published in page one

RP claims victory in Geneva HR review

Sunday, 24 September 2017 00:00 Published in Headlines

UN ADOPTS RIGHTS REPORT CARD

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

The country scored a major victory yesterday during the universal periodic review of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after the UN body adopted the human rights report card of the Duterte administration which essentially affirmed government commitment to international obligations including its rejection of extrajudicial killings in the conduct of the war on drugs.
The 47-member body adopted Friday the country’s Third Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report in Geneva, Switzerland.  
“The final adoption of our UPR Report during the 36th Regular


Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva demonstrates that the Philippines has nothing to hide with its human rights record,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement from New York where he is attending the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.  
Cayetano welcomed the final adoption of the (UPR) Report by the UN body saying it affirms Manila’s commitment to its human rights obligations.  
The UPR of the UN Human Rights Council is the world’s principal peer review mechanism where UN member-states discuss their human rights policies and plans and exchange views on how to improve rights protection through international cooperation. The process is transparent and member-states interact as sovereign equals, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.
“The Philippines will remain resolute in its respect for and protection of human rights as it strives to improve the lives and welfare of each and every Filipino by protecting them from the scourges of drugs and criminality,” Cayetano added.
”The Philippines remains fully committed to meeting its human rights obligations in compliance with the Constitution and international human rights obligations,” he said.
Cayetano stressed that the dignity of the Filipino people is uppermost among the Duterte administration’s priority concerns.
He expressed his appreciation to the other members of the government UPR team, particularly Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights.
The adoption is basically that part of the UPR process where member-states confirm which recommendations to accept from those made when then Senator Cayetano presented the Philippine UPR report before the Council in Geneva in May.
The Philippine Mission to the United Nations in Geneva said the report was warmly welcomed by other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand, which all commended the country’s human rights achievements.
3rd HR report adopted
?The Philippine Mission said the 2017 report was the third to be adopted by the council, which also adopted the Philippine UPR reports in 2008 and 2012.
“This shows the full engagement of the Philippines with the UN Human Rights Council as the most important ?international human rights machinery,” Ambassador Evan Garcia, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said.
”We must recognize the wise leadership of Secretary Cayetano in showing our human rights commitments and achievements to the world. This is the course we will maintain,” Garcia added.
He said that after a careful review and inclusive consultation with inputs from various stakeholders, especially from representatives from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial departments was done, the Philippines committed to fully accept 103 out of the 257 recommendations it received.
“The accepted recommendations mirrored the recommending States’ understanding of the current human rights situation in the Philippines, recognized and respected the State as currently implementing or having implemented them, and were supportive of the Philippines’ pursuit of human rights aimed at uplifting human dignity,” Garcia added.
Among recommendations that accepted were related to the sustainable protection of family and society in general, such as the preservation of the sanctity of family life, effective advocacy of economic and social rights through development, mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change, eradication of poverty, and improvements to access to health care and public education.?
The Philippines also accepted recommendations aimed at enhancing the current capacities of the country to protect the right to life, liberty and property through the rule of law and accessibility of victims to justice in pursuit of anti-abortion initiatives, eradication of all forms of slavery, counter-terrorism efforts, and the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
The rest of the recommendations that were fully accepted were those that would strengthen international cooperation with human rights mechanisms for the protection of the most vulnerable sectors in Philippine society and the formulation of the national human rights action plan.??
Garcia said the Philippines could only note 154 other recommendations because the country cannot guarantee or commit at this time to their fruition given that the results of processes required to implement them are beyond the sole control of any of the branches of the government.?
“This is specifically true for recommendations that pertain to legislative action, which would require consultative processes with stakeholders”, he said.??
Ambassador Garcia said the adoption was the result of the efforts of then Senator Cayetano and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevara to clearly and comprehensively explain to the council Philippine policies and practices, including those in connection with the campaign against illegal drugs.
Forty-two States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 States each. The third cycle of the UPR will cover all UN Member States and run until 2021.
The Philippines was one of the first 47 members of the then newly created HRC in 2006. The Philippines is currently serving its 4th term as member in the Human Rights Council.
Explanations given on drugs war
The Philippines had sufficiently explained that deaths which occurred in the course of the implementation of the anti-illegal drug campaign were not extrajudicial killings, Garcia said.  
Similarly, Garcia clarified that concerns on the re-imposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility had been subject to deliberations in the Philippines Congress, which included comprehensive consultations.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers praised the Philippines for the implementation of measures aimed at combatting poverty, and promoting the right to education and the rights of vulnerable groups.  
The country was also thanked for acceding to important international conventions but some speakers urged Manila to comply with international standards in combatting the use of drugs.  
Garcia said the accepted recommendations mirrored the recommending States’ understanding of the current human rights situation in the Philippines, and recognized and respected the State as currently implementing or having implemented them.   
The Philippines “noted” recommendations referring to the extrajudicial killings allegedly resulting from the anti-illegal drug campaign of the administration.
The CHR representative during the UN review said that “human rights promotion and protection in the Philippines was at a crossroads.”
CHR cited the continued culture of impunity and challenges in human rights faced by the country on the ground by a series of factors.
These include “the relentless war against illegal drugs that had resulted in thousands of deaths, largely victimizing the poor; the extension of the martial law in Mindanao and an active armed conflict that had caused internal displacements; the pursuit of a legislative agenda that reintroduced the death penalty and lowered the minimum age of criminal responsibility; the discovery of a secret detention cell and its denial by State agents; public threats, intimidation and false information against human rights defenders, journalists and oversight actors; and the vote in the House of Representatives to reduce the Commission’s budget to $ 20, which was recently restored but with a possible 15 per cent reduction in the total budget proposal.”
For its part, CHR reiterated its call on the government “to end impunity and adhere to the rule of law in the campaign against criminality.”
It also called upon the government to ensure accountability, transparency and cooperation in investigations of human rights violations, especially torture and enforced disappearances, and to provide adequate protection for human rights victims, whistle-blowers and witnesses, prosecute all perpetrators and honour its human rights obligations.  
Finally it called upon the administration to enable oversight mechanisms to perform their mandates and respect the independence of the Commission on Human Rights.  
‘No victory’ — rights group
“The PH government delegation to Geneva conveniently glosses over the fact that it did not accept any of the 44 recommendations related to extrajudicial killings, none of the 23 recommendations calling for the government to discontinue efforts to revive death penalty, and none of the 13 recommendations aimed at the protecting and creating an enabling environment for human rights defenders and journalists. This are key recommendations that need urgent attention, and yet are furtively brushed off by the Duterte administration,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.
Palabay said the statements from some in the Philippine delegation at the UNHRC review were farcical displays of “fraudulence, overbearance, and outright misrepresentation of the situation.”
“The Duterte regime and its representatives are shameless in using such a platform to promote distorted facts. Interventions by civil society in the UPR were made because colleagues are being killed or are being harassed,” it said.
Karapatan also cited the recent 2017 Global Impunity Index released by Universidad de las Americas or UNDAP, naming the Philippines as the country with the highest level of impunity among 69 countries. “Human rights violations committed with impunity is the order of the day in the Philippines,” Palabay said.

New matrix links drugs, terror groups

Sunday, 24 September 2017 00:00 Published in Headlines

President Duterte revealed an updated drug matrix last Friday that showed links among leaders of the Maute Group who masterminded the Marawi City siege and narcotics syndicate composed of more than 30 Lanao del Sur officials and a local businessman.
Mr. Duterte showed the matrix to journalists during a briefing last September 22 at the Matina Enclaves indicating that the connections among the terrorists and the drug lords explain the endurance of the Islamic State (IS)-inspired terror operations in Marawi City.
“I have something for you tonight. I’ll just pass it on this list. That’s for public consumption already. It shows how they operated the drug campaign in Marawi and the entire of Mindanao,” Duterte said during the briefing.
“I said Mindanao and the Visayas almost fell into the hands of narco-state,” Duterte explained the relevance of the new list. “Luzon remains a volatile area,” he added.
Mr. Duterte said the creation of the matrix was the product of “intelligence work” for the last three months or since the Maute Group launched the Marawi City siege last May 23.
The names included former Marawi City mayor Solitario Ali, his brother, Fahad Salic and his son, Arafat.
Other names in the matrix were a certain FM Muslimen Macabatok; Mulondo Mayor Hadji Jamal Abdulsalam; Buadiposo Buntong Mayor Noron Dadayan; Ditsaan, Ramain Vice Mayor Noridin Adiong; Rangaig Mamarinta a Provincial Board Member o

Bayang, Lanao del Sur; Ansari Saripada Radiamoda of Lilod, Madava, Marawi City; Parahiman Batawi Ronda of Samer, Butig; Acong Domato and Haj Taha Abdullah of Barangay Baropit, Picong; Gona Romoros Aba Saguiran of Barangay Bubong, Saguiran, Novaliches, Quezon City and a supposed Filipino Chinese businessman whose daughter is married to Johary Abinal, who in turn was the ex-husband of Johaira “Marimar” Abinal.
“You would say there that you would know (the links). That is the work of the intelligence for the last 3 months or two when we were able to penetrate the insides, the entrails of the city,” he said.
“They have a trouble drawing up the connections so I said let’s reveal it, it’s no use keeping it a secret, for what?” he said.
Endless ammunitions
In the briefing, Duterte said the government discovered that the Maute Group “was really preparing for the long haul” in the Marawi City siege.
“Until now, they never ran out of ordnance, explosives, ammunitions, and all. I really do not know the extent now of the contamination,” he said.
Duterte said the names in the matrix were those who have funneled funds to the IS-inspired terrorists fighting government troops.
“You know, (in) the illegal (drugs trade), whether or not you want to believe it, always the driving force is greed and power, money,” Duterte added.
“To what extent was this drug used to build up the terrorist activity is something which we have really to find out,” he added.
Duterte dismissed claims of the Maute group that they are waging a religious war.
“That’s terrorism, it’s not Islam. It is not the work of a believer of Islam,” Mr. Duterte said.
“I should know that. You know my roots,” he added.
“I’d be the last person to condemn the Moro people,” he said.
Duterte said he never wanted war under his administration because “nobody wins.”
“Just like in Marawi. We will never win there. They’re all Filipino but because of an alien ideology, that of the ISIS, they (Maute group members) were driven to some kind of a devil’s den,” he added.
“And that would really give me the reason to pursue what would be a peaceful place for all of us. I wouldn’t bulge against terrorism. If I do, that is really the end for us, so be it,” he said.
No celebration needed
No victory celebration of any kind will be held once the remaining Maute Group terrorists are eliminated from Marawi City, Duterte also told troops engaged in the ongoing clearing operations in Marawi city during his visit Thursday,  Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said.
“He (Duterte) also told troops that the end is near and they should persevere further in their efforts to totally liberate the city from the terrorists. And once this is accomplished, he does not want any celebration or party as those killed are also Filipinos,” Año said.
Año said that instead of celebrations, the President wanted the military to ensure the security of those involved in the city’s rehabilitation so that reconstruction could be conducted without any threat from lawless elements.
Duterte also lauded the troops for their recent successes, especially the recapture of the Bato Mosque and Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation and the rescue of Father Chito Soganob and other hostages, the AFP chief added.
Fighting in Marawi City, currently on its fourth month, erupted after an attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader, Isnilon Hapilon, and his cohorts last May 23.


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