Remulla to UNHRC: PH gov’t knows best what’s good for Filipinos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 6) — After presenting the Philippine government’s initiatives for the protection of human rights to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla told the council that the government “knows best what is good” for Filipinos.

“What we ask of you, the Human Rights Council and partners, is to listen to us. To understand the context of our challenges — beside us on the ground, not above us from afar,” he said during the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the Philippines for the 51st UNHRC session in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday.

“Trust that we know best what is good for our people and to work with us to realize the vision of human rights and justice for all,” he added.

The Justice Secretary discussed the government’s initiatives, including instructing law enforcers to use force only when required, implementing an internal disciplinary program for abusive policemen, and reorienting the anti-drug effort to target drug suppliers rather than users.

“We want to inject human rights into every step of our law enforcement and judicial processes. This assures that no one is left behind and that the wheels of justice truly serve all without distinction,” he said.

Remulla also said the Philippines is “undertaking transformational reform of its justice and law enforcement sectors” under the Marcos administration, and the country will continue to work with the UN and the international community.

“We are on a new pathway towards an inclusive and empowering ecosystem of social justice. President Marcos is a consensus-builder and has a deeply human approach to law enforcement and the anti-illegal drug campaign,” he added.

Human rights groups: EJKs, red-tagging continue in PH

Remulla made the statement after the Human Rights Watch reported that extrajudicial killings in the Philippine government’s war on drugs continue even under the Marcos administration. HRW also urged the UNHRC to adopt a “strong resolution.”

“UN member states should not be fooled by the baseless claims from the new Philippine government that the rights situation has suddenly improved,” HRW Geneva Director Lucy McKernan said in a statement early September.

Civil society groups were also allowed to speak during the UNHRC session on Wednesday. They reported continued extra-judicial killings, harassment and arrests of activists and journalists, and red-tagging under the Marcos administration. The killing of radio commentator Percival Mabasa was also brought up. 

Inez Feria of NoBox Philippines, a group working on drug-related policies reformation, said human rights would continue to be violated if the administration insists on a view of a “drug-free” country.

“How can we move forward and fix things if we are not honest of what has been happening and continuing to happen? We quibble over numbers instead of acknowledging the wrongs that have been committed against Filipinos and where we should be facilitating accountability,” Feria said.

HRW and Amnesty International also hit the UNHRC, warning that the council’s inaction could affect its credibility.

HRW’s Carlos Conde reported that drug-related deaths have reached at least 90 from July 1 to Sept. 30, which he said could translate to a rate of one death per day.

“Instead of putting the Philippine government on notice, the Council will be handing President Marcos an opportunity to make self-serving claims about his yet unseen commitment to human rights,” he said.

After his attendance at the 51st UNHRC session in Geneva, Switzerland, Remulla will lead the Philippine delegation to the revalida on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on Oct. 10 to 11.