The Philippines needs changes in culture not just government policies to curb rights abuses said Investigate PH, an independent international investigation of the human rights situation in the Philippines conducted by people’s organisations and civil society.
“Even if we need policy changes and maybe constitutional changes, it is not enough. It has to do with a culture that needs to be changed,” Dr. Agnes Abuom, commissioner of Investigate PH said on Tuesday at an online forum with the media and various human rights groups.
“It has to do with the leadership that needs to understand that they are part of the global community, and the global community has sets of values that we go by, and need to uphold and work and lead with those values,” Dr. Abuom added.
Abuom, who is also the moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, presented at the forum the first report of Investigate PH on the state of human rights in the Philippines.
According to Abuom, the report — which has been sent to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) — is very urgent because it seems that even evidence-based reports are being disregarded and set aside.
“This is an urgent matter. It’s a matter that has been going on for very long in terms of violations, and I think it is a shame to the global community that, even when we have evidence-based information, it is still not enough to push for transformation,” she explained.
“So I think it is important to state from the beginning that this Commission is concerned that it brings the evidence-based information from the ground to the various UN bodies particularly the human rights, and that can help them in actually understanding the reality on the ground,” she added.
Investigate PH was launched last Jan. 28 as an initiative-based group that would collate and submit reports on alleged rights abuses in the Philippines, especially those that occurred under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
It aims to urge relevant UN bodies to make use of international mechanisms to hold perpetrators of human rights violations in the Philippines accountable and to deliver justice to victims.
The initiative was started in January after UNHRC decided to pull back on suggestions for it to conduct a full-blown probe in the Philippines — which was eventually reduced to a resolution asking UNHRC member-states to extend technical assistance to the country.
After the release UNHRC resolution, the Philippine government created a task force that would look into allegations of extrajudicial killings committed during the drug war, along with other rights violations.
However, local groups say that the government task force is all for show as controversies on supposed rights abuses — like the police operation that led to the death of nine activists last March 7 — are still happening. (Source: INQUIRER.net)