CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Statement delivered by
H.E. LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN
Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations
During the Third Committee Debate on
Agenda Item 68 (b): Promotion and Protection of Human Rights –
Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving
the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms
69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Philippines aligns itself with the statement made by Malaysia, on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Human Rights and the Peace Process
The protection of human rights is at the core of our national policies and programmes, and this has most recently been manifested by the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law endorsed to Congress by the President.
The draft Basic Bangsamoro Law expressly states that “[a]ll laws and policies, including customary laws, shall conform to international human rights and humanitarian standards. The rights under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights instruments shall be guaranteed by the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government.” It also provides for the creation of an independent and impartial Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission.
Extra-Judicial Killings and Safety of Journalists
The Philippines condemns all attacks and violence against journalists and all media workers. This is happening all over the world, and it is lamentable that the Philippines continues to be cited on this.
The Philippines is mindful of its obligations to prevent extra-judicial killings, ensure the safety of journalists and punish impunity. We are committed to resolve all cases of alleged extrajudicial killings, including of the media, through the appropriate state mechanisms. Under Administrative Order 35, the President created the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons, which is mandated to inventory, investigate, monitor and prosecute cases. The Inter-Agency Committee includes is a composite team from the justice, interior, defense, armed forces, police and national human rights bodies and reports directly to the President.
Since its creation in 2012, this Inter-Agency Committee has had significant milestones in the process of resolving cases, including the arrest of high profile suspects. One of its priorities is the immediate resolution of the Maguindanao Massacre cases, which is still being prosecuted. Indeed, challenges and gaps remain, especially in the aspects of investigation and prosecution, and these continue to be addressed with among others, specialized prosecution teams, capacity building measures such as training programs and strengthening of the witness protection program.
We also ensure collaboration with non-State stakeholders, as our government recognizes that the resolution of cases cannot be fully and successfully undertaken without the assistance of intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental and civil society organizations.
In this regard, we take note with appreciation of the Secretary General on Resolution 68/163 (“The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”), particularly the lead role played by UNESCO on the subject. We particularly agree with the report’s recommendation that prosecutions should be brought where these are supported by evidence.
We note that the Report lacks information on whether focal points for the exchange of information about the implementation of the UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the issue of Impunity have been considered or identified by relevant UN system entities, as requested by Resolution 68/163, and would appreciate information on this.
Moratorium on the Death Penalty
To mark “World Day against the Death Penalty” last 10 October 2014, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, together with the Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Australia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Mexico, Mongolia, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom issued a Joint Declaration in favor of death penalty abolition.
The Joint Declaration is the first ever launched by Foreign Ministers of both abolitionist and non-abolitionist States. It calls for a more humane justice system and aims at fostering an open and respectful debate about the death penalty.
It is an expression of Philippine constitutional and legislative policies and also reinforces the Philippines’ commitment to uphold its international obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Second Optional Protocol on the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all aiming at abolishing death penalty and advocating the “right to life” of every human being.
The Philippines believes that imposing the death penalty cannot fully deter crime, and that the deterrence to criminality is a combination of several factors, such as an empowered citizenry, a skilled and trusted law enforcement sector, an effective prosecutorial service, and an independent judiciary.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of promoting and protecting the human rights of migrants, regardless of their migrant status, and especially of migrant children and adolescents. As the Secretary General reports, under the states have an obligation under the core international human rights instruments to protect the human rights of all individuals, regardless of their nationality or migration status.
We reiterate our call to member states to consider the ratification of relevant human rights instruments, including the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
Development and protection of human rights are inextricably linked. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 20 years ago stressed that the right to development is a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of human rights, and we are much encouraged that this is being reaffirmed in the post-2015 development agenda.
Thank you, Madam Chair.