Statement of the Commission on Human Rights recommending for the continuation of the UN Joint Programme, noting its valuable impacts to the human rights situation in the Philippines

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STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION DIVISIONCommission on Human Rights – Central Office

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) notes the gains that the United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP) has provided to further allow the government for a more focused implementation of efforts which actively promote developments on the human rights situation in the Philippines. As the end of the program nears in July 2024, we recommend the prospect of continuing this partnership as a foundational pillar, ensuring that the country stays clear-sighted towards its goal to comply with its international human rights obligations and to implement domestic policies which respond to the needs of the vulnerable and marginalised.

This three-year collaboration between the United Nations (UN) and the Philippine government, together with the CHR and civil society organisations, reinforces the institutions already available in the country to ensure that Filipinos are constantly guaranteed the free exercise and enjoyment of their rights. Through the adoption of Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution 45/33 in 2020, the UNJP paved towards an intensified UN engagement with the Philippines through effective technical assistance and capacity-building measures within the human rights sphere. In fact, this stands congruent with the State commitment to prioritise “measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity” in the 1987 Constitution and is also strengthened through the Partnership Framework for Sustainable Development 2019-2023.

It must be noted that the strategic framework of the UNJP envisions to broaden the human rights-based approaches amongst duty-bearers, to strengthen domestic accountability mechanisms which address human rights violations and abuses, and to ensure that rights-holders, especially victims, are able to be afforded better means to claim their rights.

While the UNJP has provided much to improve the human rights situation in the country, the Commission believes that more has to be achieved to make sure that the intended purpose of this partnership remains faithful to initial goals. In particular, we are hopeful that the technical capacity-building efforts will be utilised immediately to address the very matters which prompted the establishment of UNJP in the Philippines, such as the alleged war on drugs which resulted in extrajudicial killings.

The Commission views this cooperative stance as an effective means to keep the human rights conversation pertinent to the governance framework of the country and ensures that accountability measures are kept in place. Keeping the UNJP alive in the Philippine context allows for a better positioning within the international sphere. After all, efforts to improve the human rights situation across the globe is a constant work in progress.

We also take this opportunity to show that the vision of the UNJP and the CHR Charter currently being deliberated in the Philippine Congress run parallel with each other in terms of cultivating a country towards its full potential to protect and enhance the rights of all. Just as it is crucial to keep the dialogue ongoing, the very institutions which pave the way to ensure that human rights remain to be a State priority and obligation should be empowered as a sign of this commitment. The human rights framework in the Philippines will be further established if both local and global mechanisms are strengthened and treated as co-existing channels which envision to continuously improve the situation of the country. If anything else, we hope that the passage of the CHR Charter will allow the international community for better means to interact with the Philippines and prove that we are on track with our commitments.

We look forward to more productive engagements between the Philippine government and the international community which will strengthen domestic policies that promote truth, justice, and accountability. As the human rights watchdog, monitor, educator, and adviser, the CHR is more than ready to extend its proactive participation to all relevant government actors and allow for a more holistic undertaking of the State obligation to promote and protect the fundamental rights of all Filipinos

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