29 May 2012

The Philippine Government successfully concluded the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of its human rights record today at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima led the Philippine Government delegation to the UPR wherein she affirmed the Aquino Administration's unwavering commitment to human rights.

"President Aquino's 16-point Social Agenda is built on a strong foundation of respect for human rights," De Lima told the UN Human Rights Council.

Despite existing challenges, the Philippines received overwhelming support and praise from UN Member States for its continuing efforts to promote and protect human rights and meet the  development needs of its citizens.

A number of countries appreciated President Aquino's strong anti-corruption and good governance platform.

As an example of the adherence of the Aquino Administration to human rights, good governance and the rule of law, and the fight against corruption, Secretary De Lima informed the Human Rights Council of the impeachment verdict against Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

"This historic development shows that in the Philippines, no one is above the law as the Aquino Administration pursues human rights, good governance, and anticorruption measures," said De Lima.

UN member states were unanimous in citing the significant decrease in reported incidents of extrajudicial killings as a positive development.

In response, Secretary De Lima appreciated this commendation and told the Human Rights Council that "the Government, under the leadership of President Aquino, utterly condemns such crimes. There is no culture of impunity in the Philippines."

"The Government pays special attention to such cases and the wheels of the Philippine justice system are indeed turning. All cases, where evidence permits, are fastidiously investigated and filed," she added.

"Let it be said that the Aquino government will be relentless in its efforts to pursue those responsible for such crimes and bring them to justice."

UN Member States also commended the Philippine Government for its progressive measures to Improve education, health and alleviate poverty in the country, such as through the Pantawid Pamilya Program.

They likewise congratulated the Philippines for ratifying a large number of international instruments such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and Optional Protocol to the  Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).

The enactment of the Philippines' Anti,..Torture Law was highlighted as a concrete measure to strengthen implementation of human rights obligations.

The Philippine delegation and UN Member States underscored the important role of the independent Philippine Commission on Human Rights in the follow-up to the ratification of the GPCAT and on monitoring and promoting human rights in the country.

UN member states furthermore lauded the Philippines' Magna Carta of Women, and domestic legislation and Government programs to enhance protection of children, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples.

The impressive progress of the Philippines in the fight against human ,trafficking was consistently mentioned, as well as its leading role to protect the human rights of migrants at the national and international levels.

The Philippines was described as a leader on human rights in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"We received positive encouragement from the UN Member States which participated in the UPR of the Philippines today," said De Lima.

"Such acknowledgement from the international community augurs well for the Philippines under the leadership of President Aquino. It inspires the Government to work even harder to strengthen its human rights protection measures."

The Philippines' active role in the Human Rights Councils was noted by a number of delegations, including Philippine-led initiatives in the UN on combating human trafficking, protecting migrant workers, human rights and climate change, interfaith dialogue, and human rights education and training.

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