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24 September 2016
Magnitude 6.3 quake shakes Philippines’ Mindanao island
24 September 2016
UN body sets meeting on PH compliance with human rights treaty obligations
by Roy Mabasa
September 24, 2016
The United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights is scheduled to review the Philippines next week – on Sept. 28-29 – on the country’s compliance with its human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
The ICESCR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 16, 1966, which came into force on Jan. 3, 1976. The Philippines is one of 164 states that ratified the treaty and undergoes regular review by the committee.
The ratifying states committed to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights to non-self-governing and trust territories and individuals, including labor rights and the rights to health, to education, and to an adequate standard of living.
The treaty is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) with its first and second Optional Protocols.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is composed of 18 independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of their countries.
At the meeting next week, they will discuss a range of issues relating to the Philippines’ implementation of the covenant with a Philippine delegation. The meetings are public and will take place on Sept. 28-29 in Room XVI at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The committee will issue its findings on the Philippines on Oct. 10.
DFA AWAITS INSTRUCTIONS
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday that it will consult Malacañang on President Rodrigo Duterte’s invitation to the United Nations and the European Union to investigate his crackdown on illegal drugs in the country.
“We have to take the cue from the Palace on how to proceed with this,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a text message to reporters. “So far, as far as I know, there are no instructions yet from the Palace.”
President Duterte had earlier challenged the UN and EU to visit the Philippines to investigate the thousands of extrajudicial killings that have been linked to his war on crime.
“I am inviting the EU, send the best lawyers of your own, also the (UN) rapporteurs, to come to the Philippines,” Duterte said. “I will write them a letter to invite them for an investigation.”
But he also said he would challenge them to a public debate. “After they ask me, I will ask them… I will humiliate them,” he said.
According to Jose, Malacañang has to issue an official approval first before DFA issues an invitation. “It will go through the regular diplomatic channels,” he said.
EU member countries last week called for strict monitoring of human rights abuses in the Philippines following public statements by Duterte on his “war on drugs.” They urged the Philippine government to investigate abuses “in full compliance with national and international obligations and respect for human rights.”
“President Duterte repeatedly urged law enforcement agencies and the public to kill suspected drug traffickers who did not surrender, as well as drug users,” the EU resolution noted. “President Duterte publicly stated he would not pursue law enforcement officers and citizens who killed drug dealers who resisted arrest.”
Last month, Dr. Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitration Executions, called on Philippine authorities to “adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions.”
She cited reports that the President promised immunity for such killings and bounties for those who turn in drug dealers “dead or alive.”
“Directives of this nature are irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law,” she said. “It is effectively a license to kill.”
According to Callamard, “claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings.”
“The state has a legally binding obligation to ensure the right to life and security of every person in the country, whether suspected of criminal offenses or not,” the UN official said. “Intentional lethal use of force is only allowed when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and should not be used for common policing objectives.”
*(updated as of 24 Sept)
28th and 29 ASEAN SUMMITS AND RELATED SUMMITS
Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic 5 – 8 September 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte meets Singapore PM Lee in Vientiane at Asean summits
VIENTIANE – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday morning (Sept 6), ahead of the opening of the 28th and 29th Asean Summits in the afternoon.
The Singapore PM congratulated President Duterte on his election. The two leaders held an half-hour meeting, the first between the two leaders. They discussed domestic and regional developments, and Mr Lee welcomed Mr Duterte making a visit to Singapore.
Duterte sparked controversy even before he left the Philippines having launched an expletive-laced tirade against US President Barck Obama after a reporter asked what Duterte would say if Obama questions the extrajudicial killings that have marked the anti-crime push of Duterte in the Philippines since the beginning of the campaign against drugs.
But after Obama’s National Security Council spokesman Ned Price saying later on during the day that Mr Obama’s meeting with Mr Duterte, set for Tuesday afternoon on the sidelines of the summitry, was off, Duterte expressed regret for his remarks but he said that he looks forward to “ironing out our differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions”.
“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the US President,” the statement added.
The Philippines will take the Asean chairmanship in 2017, with Laos set to formally pass the baton at the close of this year’s Asean summits on Thursday.