Oliver Bugarin 9 0 0 6 min to read

PH pledged to engage in “constructive discourse” on human rights

The Philippine administration has reaffirmed its dedication to engaging in productive discourse and working together on human rights-related problems.

According to a statement made by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo on Friday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has indicated that he will keep up his pursuit of a progressive human rights agenda.

The commitment was made on Wednesday during a virtual session with diplomats that the DFA hosted.

The president “outlined a forward-looking and people-centered national program for inclusive growth and sustainable development” in his State of the Nation Address, according to Manalo. This national initiative “builds on the profoundly ingrained and forward-thinking human rights agenda of the Philippines, reinforced over decades by succeeding political regimes.”

According to Manalo, the government’s proactive engagement in human rights review procedures and constructive international and bilateral contacts are guided by the human rights agenda.

In September and October, there will be two revalidas, or constructive discussions, with human rights treaty bodies, namely regarding the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Manalo stated that the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression will visit Manila in 2023, while the UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children will visit in November.

The fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review is also being fully prepared for, according to the DFA.

UNJP development

Jesus Crispin Remulla, secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Severo Catura, undersecretary of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat, discussed the nation’s progress toward its commitments under the three-year UN Joint Program (UNJP) on Human Rights.

“Since the UNJP’s launch last year, the DOJ has continued to engage in inclusive consultations on the improved operation of the AO35 (Administrative Order 35) Mechanism or the interagency committee that addresses extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations,” Remulla said at the meeting.

According to Remulla, training initiatives are being carried out as a part of capacity-building measures.

As of June 2022, 188 individuals from the Commission on Human Rights, law enforcement, and prosecutors’ offices had benefited from AO35 training programs.

A training program on the Minnesota Protocol on Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death is also being prepared, along with specialists like the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Killings.

In order to shorten the complaint process and facilitate investigations, discussions are also happening about the formation of a sub-working group for victim support and rehabilitation as well as a “National Referral Pathway” on accountability.

According to Catura, the Philippines has so far established 63 approved treatment and rehabilitation institutions, 58 of which are residential facilities and five of which are outpatient ones.

In all the facilities, 2,708 admissions were registered.

According to Catura, the restart of operation of the rehabilitation centers and drug users’ willingness to receive treatment and rehabilitation led to a 14% rise in admission to these facilities when compared to instances from the previous years. Every action the Philippines takes in the fight against illegal drugs is disclosed to the appropriate international organizations.

Over 101,000 non-profit groups and 2,000 private media companies operating in the Philippines, according to Catura, considerably contribute to the country’s reputation as a “vibrant civic space.”

To further enhance the nation’s human rights condition and support its “continuous fulfillment of international human rights obligations and commitments,” the UNJP was established in August 2021 and will last through July 2024.

As of June 2022, Australia, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, and the United Kingdom had each contributed USD1.3 million (PHP72.6 million) to the UNJP Multi-Donor Trust Fund.

The DFA said that the Philippine government had budgeted USD200,000 for the fiscal year 2022 to support the UNJP’s implementation and planned to do so once more in the years that followed.

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