By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Malacañang welcomed the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC’s) final adoption of the Third Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that the 47-member body, during the 36th Regular Session in Geneva, affirmed Manila’s commitment to its human rights obligations.
According to Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, the adoption of the Philippine UPR Report recognizes the human rights record of the Philippines and the country’s commitment to human rights under the leadership of President Duterte.
“This likewise reaffirms our respect for the dignity of the Filipino people and the protection of the Filipino family as we strive for a better life in a society free of illegal drugs and other crimes,” Abella said in a statement Saturday afternoon.
Palace also congratulated and recognized the efforts of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, the members of the Philippine government UPR team, Philippine Ambassador to the UN Evan Garcia, and the team at the Philippine Mission to the UN “for their tireless efforts in explaining to the world our policies, practices, commitments and obligations in the area of human rights.”
The UPR of the UN Human Rights Council is the world’s principal peer review mechanism where member-states come together to discuss their human rights policies and plans and exchange views on how to improve human rights through international cooperation.
According to the DFA, the process is transparent and member-states interact as sovereign equals.
Cayetano said that the country will remain fully committed to meeting its human rights obligations in compliance with the Constitution and international human rights obligations.
“The Philippines will remain resolute in its respect for and protection of human rights as it strives to improve the lives and welfare of each and every Filipino by protecting them from the scourges of drugs and criminality,” Cayetano said.
“The dignity of the Filipino people is uppermost among our priority concerns,” he added.
The DFA, citing the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, said the report was warmly welcomed by other ASEAN member-states Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand, which all commended the country’s human rights achievements.
Garcia reported that after a careful review and inclusive consultation with inputs from various stakeholders, the Philippines committed to fully accept 103 out of the 257 recommendations it received.
“The accepted recommendations mirrored the recommending States’ understanding of the current human rights situation in the Philippines, recognized and respected the State as currently implementing or having implemented them, and were supportive of the Philippines’ pursuit of human rights aimed at uplifting human dignity,” Garcia said.
According to the DFA, the Philippines accepted recommendations that pertained to the sustainable protection of family and society in general.
These include the preservation of the sanctity of family life, effective advocacy of economic and social rights through development, mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change, eradication of poverty, and improvements to access to health care and public education.
The Philippines also accepted recommendations on enhancing capacities to protect the right to life, liberty and property through the rule of law, and accessibility of victims to justice in pursuit of anti-abortion initiatives, eradication of all forms of slavery, counter-terrorism efforts, and the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
The rest of the recommendations that were fully accepted were those aimed to strengthen international cooperation with human rights mechanisms for the protection of the most vulnerable sectors and the formulation of the national human rights action plan.
A total of 42 States are reviewed each year. The third cycle of the UPR will cover all UN Member States until 2021.
The Philippines was one of the first 47 members when the HRC was created in 2006. The country is serving its fourth term as member of the HRC.
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