Thank you, Mr. President.
Since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. became president nine months ago, he and his administration hit the ground running trying to persuade the international community that the human rights situation in the Philippines has improved. But has it really?
Counting from the day his presidency started on July 1, 2022, 227 people have been killed in “drug-related” killings. Despite the deaths of more than 6,200 at the hands of the police during the “drug war” under the previous administration of President Duterte, President Marcos has not abandoned this violent policy. Additionally, out of all the thousands of deaths since 2016, only two cases have resulted in criminal convictions.
Political activists, environmental defenders, and Indigenous peoples are still being harassed, arrested, and in some cases, murdered. Along with independent journalists and other government critics, they are accused of being communists, a practice known as “red-tagging” that exposes them to fatal danger. Former senator Leila de Lima, one of the chief critics of Duterte’s “drug war,” just entered her seventh year in pre-trial detention on bogus charges. Meanwhile, the Marcos administration and its allies in the legislature vehemently oppose the investigation by the International Criminal Court.
National and international human rights watchdogs have highlighted the problem of persistent impunity in the Philippines but the government has taken very little concrete action to address these pressing concerns. Instead, officials have resorted to bombarding the airwaves with rhetoric while dressing up a few tokenistic actions.
On the ground in the Philippines, there was significant disappointment that the Council failed to deliver a new resolution committing to further action on the human rights situation in the Philippines. Unfortunately, by falling short, the Council has enabled the Marcos administration to evade its responsibility to ensure accountability for abuses and stop the rights violations. As we pointed out in the 51st session, improving the rights situation in the Philippines requires sustained and committed action by this Council and concerned member states.