- The Human Rights Committee considered the 4th periodic report of the Philippines on the country’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on October 15 to16 during the first two days of the Committee’s 106th Session held at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland.
Headed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the Philippine delegation reported to the Committee the developments in the country’s compliance with the provisions of the Covenant, for the report period covering the years 2003 to 2012.
The delegation, composed of officials from various Government agencies and representatives from the judiciary, responded to issues raised by the Committee with regard to measures being undertaken by the Philippine Government in the promotion, protection and fulfillment of civil and political rights in accordance with the country’s domestic and national legislation and in line with the Philippines’ international commitments and obligations.
In her statement, Secretary de Lima informed the Committee of numerous legislations enacted in the past nine years to strengthen the country’s legal framework to ensure better protection and promotion of human rights, and to further align domestic legislation with the provisions of the Covenant, as well as measures being undertaken to ensure that these laws are duly implemented.
Secretary Lima reported that “as regards respect for life in the context of alleged cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance, measures instituted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to solve cases of extra-judicial killings, have led to the marked decline in these cases.”
She further emphasized in her statement that the Government has set up various mechanisms, such as the PNP-Task Force Usig and a strengthened Presidential Human Rights Committee, to help address cases and handle complaints in accordance with the rule of law and due process. “A National Monitoring Mechanism, involving the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Presidential Human Rights Committee under the Office of the President, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and CSOs (civil society organizations), is intended to effectively monitor the cases concerning extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and torture.”
Secretary de Lima further stated that “the Government continues to empower its security sector to fully comply with human rights, international humanitarian law, and the rule of law.” Denying the allegation that torture and ill-treatment of individuals under the custody of law enforcement and military personnel is widespread in the Philippines, she explained that “there exist mechanisms within the security forces that address cases of torture in accordance with due process of law and the military justice system.” She added that “as a State party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), the Government and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have partnered to consult various stakeholders on a proposed bill that will formally establish the National Preventive Mechanism.”
The Philippine delegation also responded to questions raised by members of the Committee concerning alleged violations of the Covenant that were brought to the attention of the Committee, as well as provided updates on the status of the cases, such as the Ampatuan Massacre and other allegations of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and torture against members of the security forces.
The Philippines, as a State party to the ICCPR and its two Optional Protocols, is obligated to submit a regular report to the Human Rights Committee on the country’s implementation of civil and political rights under the Covenant. The Human Rights Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties and to consider inter-state complaints. The First Optional Protocol to the Covenant gives the Committee competence to examine individual complaints with regard to alleged violations of the Covenant by States parties to the Protocol.