November 11, 2022 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla is leaving for Geneva today to present the Philippine government’s human rights efforts before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The Philippines’ human rights record will be examined by the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the fourth time on Monday.
In his radio program, Remulla yesterday said that he has a lot of reports to present, including the nine new cases of alleged “abuse of power” of some law enforcers involved in the illegal drug campaign during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte.
“The cases are moving. We’re identifying them one by one,” Remulla said, referring to cases handled by the National Bureau of Investigation, which is an attached agency of his department.
Asked if the cases were related to the extrajudicial killings, Remulla responded in the affirmative, but clarified that they call it “abuse of power” or “abuse of authority” and “other wrong things that were done” in the country’s so-called war on drugs.
“Abuse of power is not state policy. We have to tell them that,” he added.
In a two-page statement, Remulla said that he will lead the Philippine government delegation that will participate in the fourth cycle of the UPR of the Philippines.
The Philippines is one of the states to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its session taking place from Nov. 7 to 18 in Geneva, Switzerland, which marks the beginning of the UPR fourth cycle, the UNHRC said.
The country’s first, second and third UPR reviews took place in April 2008, May 2012 and May 2017, respectively.
The reviews are based on the following documents: the national report – information provided by the state under review; information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; and information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.
The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN member states. Since its first meeting was held in April 2008, all 193 UN member states have been reviewed thrice within the first, second and third UPR cycles.
During the fourth UPR cycle, states are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews which they committed to follow-up on and to highlight recent human rights developments in the country.
The three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (“troika”) for the review of the Philippines are Marshall Islands, Namibia and Poland.
The Philippines reaffirmed the value of the UPR process in the run-up to the Philippines’ fourth cycle review.
Philippine permanent representative to the UN in Geneva Evan Garcia underscored that the UPR is a vehicle for constructive discussions among states focused on finding solutions to gaps in human rights promotion and protection – both in terms of domestic standard-setting and actual implementation of international human rights obligations. – Robertzon Ramirez