MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines was one of the countries that voted to expel Russia…
EU claims that under the present administration, the state of human rights in the Philippines is “improved.”
According to a delegation of European lawmakers, the current administration’s handling of human rights in the Philippines is “better” than that of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I think we can say without a doubt that it is better than it was under President Duterte. According to Hannah Neumann, vice president of the European Parliament (EP) Subcommittee on Human Rights, in a press conference held on Friday, “We clearly got the impression that everyone was very open to talking to us about human rights issues, which has not been the case under the previous administration.
On the final day of her delegation’s official visit to Manila, Neumann was giving a speech in Makati. Throughout their meetings with government representatives and stakeholders, they discussed advancements in human rights.
The delegation applauded the Marcos administration’s pledge to discuss human rights with the international community, including UN bodies, in a statement.
According to Neumann, “promising first moves and declarations in this area,” particularly within the context of the Universal Periodic Review, have given them hope.
“We also note favorably the President’s pledge to shift the emphasis of the so-called war on drugs away from a punitive and lethal strategy towards more prevention and rehabilitation,” she added. “We particularly welcomed the vow not to restore the death sentence.”
The team stressed the significance of looking into each case while noting that they were “made aware of continued extrajudicial killings.”
Furthermore, Neumann said, “We want to emphasize that the EU would be delighted to see the Philippines re-join the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which all member states of the EU are signatories because it would strengthen the government’s stated commitment to combating impunity.
“Technical expertise available”
According to Neumann, allowing the ICC entry would help with the probe of the more than 6,000 alleged fatalities during the previous administration’s war on narcotics.
“If there are 6,000 examples, and the government is genuinely interested in establishing accountability and looking into them, then 6,000 cases need to be filed, witnesses need to be located, and evidence needs to be gathered— 6,000 cases. Nine months into the current government, 25 cases have already been filed, and three persons have received sentences, she added.
The EU is “quite willing,” according to the European lawmaker, to offer support and technical knowledge, but on the current course of events, adequately investigating more than 6,000 instances “would take practically forever.”
“For us, calling in the ICC is the best course of action,” she declared.
“There were 6,000 people who died in this, and they deserve a thorough investigation. And I believe that this is the conversation that we should have as a group, she added.
While Manila’s GSP+ inclusion is set to expire in December, Neumann stated in the same news conference that the coming years will be vital for trade relations between the EU and the Philippines.
The Philippines could reapply during the two-year transition period, according to Neumann.
This effectively gives the administration two years to demonstrate their sincerity in implementing the plan and improving the human rights situation on the ground so that we can make an accurate assessment and determine how to continue, she said.
When asked if the release of former senator Leila de Lima and the Philippines’ admission to the ICC will influence the EU’s decision to renew the status, Neumann dodged a direct response.
We are a delegation from the Human Rights Committee, therefore we most definitely are not the only ones who decide how long the Philippines will remain a member of the GSP+, she said.
She continued, “[R]eleasing Senator Leila de Lima and withdrawing the false accusations, as well as returning to the ICC, would obviously be a powerful message in which direction the government wishes to take and is entirely in accordance with what we expect from GSP+ partner countries.
Ryszard Czarnecki, Isabel Wiseler-Lima, Karsten Lucke, and Miguel Urban Crespo, who are also MEPs, joined Neumann.
The chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the House Committee on Human Rights met with MEPs from February 22 to February 24.
Together with the members of the Commission on Human Rights, United Nations Philippines, civil society organizations, and trade union officials, they also met with the secretaries of commerce and justice. Alfredo Pascual and Jesus Crispin Remulla.***
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