July 16, 2019
The local Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has quickly come out to rationalize the recent United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for an investigation into alleged human rights violations in the Philippine war on illegal drugs.
CHR spokesman Jacqueline de Guia’s tack is to say the resolution is a normal procedure for the UN council. The UNHRC team reportedly visited 58 countries for similar fact-finding missions last year.
De Guia clarified, though, that the UN council had only ordered the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to submit a monitoring report. There is no order to conduct an investigation yet.
But she slyly suggested that the Duterte administration welcomed such a fact-finding mission because this would give the government and police agencies the opportunity to air their side.
This sort of statement sounds more like what the UN council hopes to hear, rather than what the Duterte administration actually said.
From the way the decision on the UN council’s resolution has been presented and publicized, it is apparent that the main objective is to put our government, and especially President Rodrigo Duterte, on the spot and on the defensive.
The publicity has drummed up the fact that Iceland’s resolution received 18 yes votes, 14 no votes and abstention from 15 countries when the council held its regular session in Geneva, Switzerland on July 11.
That publicity suggests that there is an international outcry for an investigation. This negative publicity is being met forcefully by our government and its foreign service and the forthright assertion of our national sovereignty.
It is troubling to see our main human rights agency, the human rights commission, appearing to be more concerned about making the UN council’s move more acceptable to Filipinos. It tries to play down the offensive part.
With the kind of money that the public treasury spends on the CHR and its staff, the nation has a right to expect the commission to be first in the line to explain to the world the real state of human rights in the country. But instead of doing that, CHR conducts itself like a resident critic of the government.
This is not how the1987 Constitution envisioned the commission to be. Given the rush-rush executive order by then president Corazon Aquino to create the commission, the Congress never had a chance to seriously discuss and enact a proper law for our human rights agency.
The CHR should now try thinking about championing our country and our government for a change.
“From the way the decision on the UN council’s resolution has been presented and publicized, it is apparent that the main objective is to put our government, and especially President Rodrigo Duterte, on the spot and on the defensive.”
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