The State is duty-bound to respect and uphold human rights, in accordance to international human rights instruments and in line with the Philippine Constitution. Yet, past and present governments have been the primary violator of human rights. While Karapatan engages with all national mechanism to assist in providing redress to victims, it does not, in any way, limit the organization from pursuing and utilizing measures provided for by known international platforms.
It is the recognition that States and its security forces can knowingly and deliberately violate human rights that international bodies specifically mandated to investigate State-perpetrated abuses were formed. With the worsening human rights situation in the country, engagement in these platforms is not unfortunate. Rather, it is necessary, lest we allow the climate of impunity to continue.
We have filed several complaints before the UN Human Rights Council and engaged with UN independent experts throughout regimes – from the administrations of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III and up to this current government. We pursue these complaints doggedly as we accompany the victims and their kin in the options that they have taken in pursuing justice.
Certainly, Harry Roque and the PH government know that the UN is a completely viable mechanism for any organization to engage with. We have the necessary documentation and the families of the victims alongside us that claims of ‘fake political information’ and ‘mere propaganda’ to diminish the work that we do does nothing to deter us. On the contrary, such dismissive and defensive behavior only propel us to continue with our advocacy. Quoting Lorena Tecson, wife of peasant leader Alberto Tecson, one of the EJK cases Karapatan submitted to UN SR Agnes Callamard: “It is lamentable that Malacanang views my husband’s case and others as mere propaganda. The painful truth remains – my husband was murdered by your State forces!”
Let the PH government be reminded of the basic human rights that they have neglected and violated, in line with the policies and campaigns that they have put forward. Instead of spouting excuses, the concrete thing to do is to investigate said killings and mobilize the legal processes and inter-agency committees that Roque said are “effective” and “well-functioning” to resolve the cases raised.
At the end of the day, Karapatan is not new to such accusations. Despite this, we remain unwavering in our commitment, foremost drawing our strength from the brave families of victims and human rights defenders working on the ground for the promotion and protection of people’s rights.