UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News

Philippines

UN human rights body to probe Philippine killings

Groups call UNHRC resolution vital in holding Duterte govt accountable for thousands of slayings

 Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: July 12, 2019 08:25 AM GMT
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
UN human rights body to probe Philippine killings

A victim of the drug-related killings in the Philippines lies dead in an alley in the Manila suburb of Navotas in this file photo. (Photo by Vincent Go)

Share this article :
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted on July 11 to set up an investigation into killings in the Philippines that have been linked to the government's war on drugs.

The resolution filed by Iceland was adopted by a vote of 18 countries in favor and 14 against, including China, with 15 abstentions, including Japan.

It calls on the U.N. human rights office to present a comprehensive report on human rights in the Philippines to the council next June.

The resolution also expresses concern about the range of alleged rights violations in the country and calls on the government to cooperate with U.N. human rights mechanisms and experts.

In addition, the resolution also urges the Philippine government to "take all measures to present extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances."

It asks the government to "carry out impartial investigations and hold perpetrators accountable."

The Philippine government earlier denounced the resolution as a "divisive motion" and sought to block it.

Rights groups welcomed the resolution, describing it as "crucial for holding the government accountable" for the killings and other rights abuses.

Laila Matar, deputy director at Human Rights Watch in Geneva, said the resolution provides "hope to countless survivors and the families of victims" even as she described it as "a modest but vital measure."

Human rights group Karapatan said the adoption of the resolution is a "sign of defiance against the Philippine government's fake news, disinformation and threats."

The group's secretary-general Cristina Palabay said, however, that the resolution "will not necessarily end the policies and campaigns that have wreaked havoc on the lives of Filipino communities and families."

"The struggle for justice and accountability, amid the worsening human rights situation in this country, progresses. So much is yet to be done, but the stage is set," she said.

Philippine says resolution 'one-sided'

The Philippine government dismissed the resolution as "grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow and maliciously partisan."

"It reeks of nauseating politics completely devoid of respect for the sovereignty of our country," President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

He said the resolution was an insult to the majority of Filipinos who expressed satisfaction with Duterte's governance.

Panelo said the resolution was "designed to embarrass the Philippines before the international community." He said the countries that voted in favor were "misled" by "continuing and relentless false news."

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. pointed out that the resolution was approved by "a tiny minority" in the council. "Such resolutions … can and will be ignored. No consequences," he said in a tweet.

'About time,' say church leaders

Several Filipino church leaders welcomed the resolution.

"It’s about time," said Father Flavie Villanueva, a priest who has been outspoken against drug war killings. "With at least 30,000 estimated massacred or even 6,000 killed, the pattern of killings is present. It’s a state-sponsored attack and killings on the poor." 

He expressed hope that the UNHRC will not be perturbed by the Philippine government's "bullying" and for justice to be finally served for "national healing and transformation" to begin.

Father Jonash Joyohoy of the Philippine Independent Church said the resolution would be a "huge relief" to families of victims and to potential victims of rights violations.

"A sure life saver to many, although we expect the killings will continue," he said, adding that the killers might take the resolution as a "concrete signal that they are not unpunishable after all."

Philippine authorities have admitted that at least 6,600 people have been killed during police anti-drug operations since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power.

The police have sought to justify the killings on grounds that suspected drug users and dealers fought back during police operations.

Right groups, however, have placed the death toll at more than 27,000.

Marielle Lucenio contributed to this report.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCAN Ad
 
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution