by PhilRights Staff

Welcome to HR Insights, a weekly roundup of human rights news in the Philippines. This week…

38 UN Human Rights Council Members urge PH to stop the ‘killings’

As reported by The Philippine Star, a joint statement by 38 member nations of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urged the Philippines to end the alleged human rights violations  committed under the current administration’s so-called war on drugs.

“If needed, the Council may take further steps, including a more formal Council initiative to try and ensure that member states meet their human rights obligations,” UNHRC members said in the joint statement delivered by Iceland.

Unsurprisingly, administration allies were quick to downplay the statement. Representatives Rodolfo Albano III (Isabela) and Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur) both suggested that the Philippines could just withdraw from the council, according to a Manila Standard report.

“Let us do a Trump, let us leave the UN body,”  Albano said, referring to US President Donald Trump’s actions on withdrawing from UN.

However, on June 22, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that the Philippines does not intend to withdraw itself from the council, according to Xinhua News.


Church leaders rally against rising number of deaths 

Following the deaths of three Catholic priests Mark Anthony Ventura, 37 of Cavite, Marcelito Paez, 72, and Richmond Nilo, 43 both of Nueva Ecija, church leaders and the Catholic faithful gathered for a protest dubbed thea “Day of Reparation” on June 18  to condemn the rising violence and human rights abuses in the country.

Catholic parishes in Albay also expressed their support for the Day of Reparation through masses, ‘holy hours’ and ringing of church bells, according to a report by UCA News.

Sight Magazine is also reporting that the World Council of Churches (WCC) has urged the Philippine Government to address the worsening issues of killings and human rights abuses in the country. In a statement, the WCC Central Council expressed how deeply alarmed they are concerning the 22, 893 killings classified by the Philippine National Police.

“The human toll of the ‘war on drugs’ is severe. The killings must be investigated, stopped and all violations prosecuted,” the statement continued.

WCC also calls on the government to lift martial law in Mindanao and push for the resumption of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.


HRW, DepEd argue risks of extending drug tests to elementary students

Human Rights Watch Asia Division Deputy Director Phelim Kine rightly points out the absurdity of the proposed plan to conduct mandatory drug testing of elementary students.

In a Rappler report, Kine was quoted as saying that “Imposing mandatory drug testing on schoolchildren when Philippine police are committing rampant summary killings of alleged drug users puts countless children in danger for failing a drug test.”

The Department of Education also strongly opposes the proposal, observing in June that the plan is not reflected in the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which only authorized drug testing for secondary and tertiary level students.

It can be recalled that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino proposed the drug testing of elementary students, citing cases where even a 10-year-old was involved in illegal drugs.


MUST READ: Exiled land rights defender calls PH Human Rights situation a ‘ticking time bomb’

In an interview with The Guardian, exiled land rights defender Joan Carling decries the Duterte administration’s “complete disregard for the rule of law,” saying that the country’s worsening human rights situation brought about by political killings and threats of plunder against the land and resources of indigenous peoples, is a ‘ticking time bomb.’

Carling was among the 300 Filipinos who were branded as terrorists by the Duterte government earlier this year. Because of her fears for her and her family’s safety, Carling is now living in exile.

Despite being thousands of miles away, Carling now focuses her efforts on drumming up international support for an independent UN investigation upon the Philippines’ human rights situation.

You can read the full story here.


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