Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oral intervention of Edita Burgos at the 8th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council 8th Session
Item 6: Consideration of UPR Reports – Philippines
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Delivered by Dr.Edita Burgos

Joint Statement on behalf of the Commission of Churches on
Interantional Affairs of the World Council of Churches (CCIA WCC) and
the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)

Mr. President:

We thank the World Council of Churches' Commission of Churches on
International Affairs (WCC CCIA) and the International Association of
Democratic Lawyers (IADL) for their support to this statement.

We also take this opportunity to thank the States that raised serious
questions and recommendations during the UPR on the Philippines in
April. The continuing concern of the international community on
extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the
Philippines is reassuring.  Such concern dispelled the glossy picture
projected by the Philippine National Report through its reporting of
formal recognition of basic rights and lavish citation of laws and

During the April UPR, it was stated that the preparation of the Report
was done through a supposed "consultative and participatory process"
to fulfill the Government's pledge of "promoting constructive
engagement of the Council with civil society, ensuring opportunities
to gainfully contribute to the work of the Council."  We maintain that
much leaves to be desired in such a process.

In relation to the outcome of the review, we note that the Philippine
delegation did not indicate any adoption of the recommendations of the
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution
especially on the changes in the counter-insurgency program being
implemented by the state and which the Special Rapporteur noted as one
of the causes of the killings and disappearances..  The filing of
cases in some and the conviction of four persons among almost a
thousand cases do not negate the fact that not a single military
person was convicted of such violations largely attributed to the
militarist approach of the Government to the issue of
counterinsurgency in the Philippines.

The reduction in the number of victims of killings is the result of
public outcry and international outrage. Yet, the impunity continues.
A recent case is that of Pastor Rodel Canja who was abducted and
subjected to mental torture in an attempt to force him to declare his
colleague, Pastor Berlin Guerrero, abducted one year earlier and now
detained on false charges, as a member of the communist party.  More
than a year after my son's abduction, in spite of all legal remedies
availed of, including the much-vaunted new remedy of the writ of
amparo, I am still searching for my disappeared son, Jonas.

Mr. President, in the outcome of the review, the Philippine delegation
declared one of its commitments is to "maintain the momentum on
addressing killings of activists and media professionals."

May we know what momentum is it saying and what actions it envisions
to totally address the issue of killings and disappearances?

We respectfully urge this august body to encourage the Philippines to
abide by its pledges and commitments and implement the recommendations
of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary

Thank you, Mr. President.

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