CHR asks PH gov’t to cooperate with UNHRC probe

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019   •   1429

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday called on the Philippine government to fully cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as it sets to conduct a review of the human rights situation in the country.

On Thursday (July 11), the UN rights council adopted an Iceland-led resolution which seeks a comprehensive written report on the Philippines’ human rights situation due to allegations of violations, particularly in the conduct of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

It also asked the government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, including preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation of retaliations on human rights defenders.

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to take up measures against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, conduct impartial investigations of human rights violations and hold those involved accountable.

Eighteen countries, mostly from Europe, voted for the resolution; 14 voted against it while 15 others abstained.

With the adoption of the resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines human rights situation by June 2020.

In a statement, the CHR said that rather than “maintaining acrimony and the hurling of threats of possible consequences,” the Philippine government should open spaces for dialogue with other nations “to show that it has nothing to hide and is willing to adhere to the global standards expected of a member of the UNHRC.”

“It must show both the international community & our own people that it is willing & able to hold perpetrators to account, to protect all human rights defenders, to stop the killings, & to end impunity,” added the agency, which it says, is an independent institution mandated by the Constitution to monitor State compliance with all human rights norms and standards.

The CHR also reiterated its previous calls for the government to allow “thorough, transparent, and independent investigations of all alleged violations of human rights in the country by demonstrating to the world that “our local mechanisms are genuinely working and are sufficient to address demands for justice and the rule of law to prevail.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin earlier rejected the Iceland-led resolution and warned of “far-reaching consequences” for nations who supported the resolution.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said the adoption of the ‘grotesquely one-sided’ resolution is an insult to the majority of Filipinos who expressed satisfaction with the kind of “forceful and effective” governance of President Duterte.

READ: Palace slams UN resolution as ‘grotesquely one-sided’ and ‘insulting’

President Duterte, on the other hand, said UN investigators should first state their purpose and he will review if they will be allowed into the country.

“Kasi kung magdagdag lang sila sa intriga, they better go to the media and the media will tell them the truth. Eh ipalabas ninyo ‘yung footages ninyong lahat and all, and that will clear everybody,” Duterte said.

Palace: Duterte to take a 3-day break

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte will be having a three-day break beginning Tuesday (November 12), according to Malacañang.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday (November 11) clarified that it will not be an official leave since the president will still be doing his paperwork. The president will fly home to Davao Monday night.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will be the officer-in-charge of the Executive branch while Duterte rests, according to Panelo

“Well upon the advice of friends, of colleagues, and the world, it seems. And most likely upon the advice of doctors also to take a respite from his punishing schedule,” he said.

Panelo clarified there are no medical concerns that prompted the three-day break.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to attend ASEAN-ROK summit in South Korea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit in South Korea from November 25 to 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed on Sunday (November 10) that the president will be attending the summit in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between the regional bloc and South Korea.

“He will push through with the trip,” Panelo said.

President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are also expected to have a bilateral meeting to discuss trade and security issues.

The Philippines and South Korea have recently celebrated its 70th bilateral relations.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte eyes ban on use of plastic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

Plastic along coastline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti | REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to ban the use of plastics in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president mentioned the idea during a discussion on climate change in a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

“The president floated the idea to ban the use of plastics, which according to him would require legislative action,” Panelo told reporters but said he is not sure if Duterte was referring to single-use plastics.

There are bills filed in Congress seeking to ban the use of single-use plastics that are currently pending at a committee level.

These measures seek to prohibit food establishments, stores, and markets from issuing single-use plastics, and task manufacturers to control the circulation and disposal of these materials. It also encourages consumers to instead use reusable or other alternative materials.

The Philippines has been listed in a 2015 report as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily.

The report called “Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution,” used data from household waste assessments and brand audits conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities across the country in the past five years.

The organization extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines.

GAIA said that findings in the report show how cities and municipalities in the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals despite efforts of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs.

With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, the group said that national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.

It also called on manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.

“We would appreciate kung ang Pangulo will tell Congress na iprioritize nga itong bill on single-use plastic,” Beau Baconguis, an Asia Pacific Plastics Campaigner of GAIA said.

“Dapat hindi lang tignan as a waste disposal issue at waste management issue pero titingnan ang buong life cycle ng plastic at buong problemang kaakibat ng different stages ng production ng plastic,” Baconguis added.

The House of Representatives, for its part, assured it will continue to conduct inquiries on proposals to ban the use of plastics in the country.

“There will be a hearing before the committee level, all the stakeholders shall be heard, and ultimately we shall decide the course,” Cavite Fourth District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said.

“The decision of the President will carry much weight in so far as the action of the House of representatives is concerned,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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