ALTHOUGH the special rapporteurs of outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lament the state of human rights in the country, the 18-man United Nations’ Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights welcomed the country’s gains in advancing the human rights.
That is one of the concluding observations of the UNCESCR that conducted the combined 5th and 6th periodic country report on the human rights situation in the country, according to Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, the Philippines’ permanent representative to the UN.
“This recognition of the UN Committee of the achievements of the Philippines does not only highlight the unwavering commitment of the country to human rights,” Rebong said.
“More importantly is that fact that the Filipino people is assured of its government’s political will for the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights as well as avenues to access effective remedies when these rights are violated,” she added.
The committee is tasked to monitor states in implementing their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, of which the Philippines is a signatory.
The conclusions did not agree with the views of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who criticized the Philippines during the opening of the UNCESCR review last September.
Hussein said President Rodrigo Duterte’s “statements of scorn for international human rights law” display a “striking lack of understanding” of human rights institutions and “the principles which keep societies safe.”
“Empowering police forces to shoot to kill any individual whom they claim to be a suspect of drug crimes, with or without evidence, undermines justice,” he added.
But Rebong argued that Duterte never empowered police officers to “shoot to kill” any individual suspected of drug crimes and reiterated Duterte only affirmed the right of the police to defend themselves when their lives are endangered.
In its report, the Committee welcomed the adoption of a number of laws that protect and advance economic, social and cultural rights such as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (R.A. No. 10354) in 2012, the Anti-Enforced Disappearances Act (Republic Act No. 10353) in 2012, the Act amending the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 10022) in 2010, and the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710) in 2009.
The committee also welcomed the Philippines’ ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2012.
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