by PhilRights Staff

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

Despite Human Rights abuses, PH wins a seat on UN HR Council

In spite of the estimated 23,000 killings committed under President Rodrigo’s campaign against illegal drugs, the Philippines still managed to be reelected for a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Council during the UN General Assembly on October 12, as reported by VOA News.

The country won with a vote of 192-165 which according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano vindicated the government’s stance that fake news and baseless accusations have no place in the human rights community.

The reelection drew surprised reactin from observers. Maria Ela Atienza, political science professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, was quoted by VOA News as saying “It’s rather strange [the Philippines] is applying for another U.N. body which also discusses human rights.”

Moreover, opposition lawmaker Gary Alejano said that a country which has numerous human rights violations has no place in the Council.

Duterte to suspend fuel tax hike

In the midst of inflation—especially high prices on food and fuel—and a weak peso, President Duterte plans to suspend an upcoming fuel tax hike under the TRAIN Law to “ease the inflation and allow the public to manage with their finances.”

Rappler reported that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III released a statement saying that the Php 2 increase on fuel excise tax scheduled to be effective on January 1, 2019 will be put on hold.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III asked the President to certify the Senate bill that will increase tobacco tax as urgent in order to fund the Universal Health Care bill.

An amount of Php 57.50 per pack will be added on the current Php 32.50 excise tax on cigarettes if the bill will be passed.

Moreover, the Health Secretary pointed out that passing the bill would result in lowered smoking prevalence on the country.

Soccsksargen drug death toll reaches 270

President Duterte’s so-called war on drugs have taken away 270 lives in the Soccsksargen region in Central Mindanao from July 1, 2016 to October 8, 2018.

A report acquired by the Philippine Daily Inquirer from the regional police says that 256 were alleged drug involved personalities who were killed in police operation.

Meanwhile, police reports say that there have been 42,946 individuals (40,327 suspected users and 2,619 suspected pushers) who surrendered across the region.

Police operations were carried out through two strategies “Oplan Tokhang” and “Oplan Double Barrel.”

MUST READ: Ending World Hunger by 2030 is not possible without human rights

UN experts Hilal Elver, Soledad García Muñoz, Nadia Aït Zaï wrote an opinion piece for Devex outlining their position on the ambitious goal of ending world poverty by 2030.

The authors argue that rising levels of world hunger are the result of “misguided policies and the lack of commitment by governments to ensure fundamental human rights.”

Indeed, they point out that human rights defenders “find themselves facing high levels of repression, threats to life, and even death.”

Throughout, the authors insist that a human rights-based approach is the only way to go, especially as “the planet is struggling with the adverse impact of climate change, ongoing protracted crises, and severe human rights violations.

Read the full article here.

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