Groups call Marcos' ‘super body’ for rights protection ‘superfluous,’ ‘window-dress’

Groups call Marcos' ‘super body’ for rights protection ‘superfluous,’ ‘window-dress’

HUMAN rights organizations have assailed the new “super body” created by the National Government that is supposed to further champion human rights protection in the Philippines.

“The criticism against the ‘super body’ – that it is window-dressing, superfluous, unnecessary, etc. – has basis. The Philippine government does not need another agency on human rights, especially an agency that will only serve a propaganda purpose for the administration,” Carlos Conde, senior researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

“The ‘special committee’ is not only composed of people and agencies that have no proven track record on human rights – some of them were responsible in one way or another for the rights abuses in the Philippines in recent years,” Conde told SunStar Philippines on Monday, May 13, 2024.

He maintained that the said “Special Committee on Human Rights Coordination” is “designed to mislead the public and the international community about the human rights situation in the Philippines.”

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.  ordered the creation of a “Special Committee on Human Rights Coordination” to carry out Administrative Order No. 22 to “enhance [government] mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines.”

The “super body” will also be in charge of “sustaining initiatives and accomplishments of the United Nations Joint Program on Human Rights in the areas of law enforcement, criminal justice, and policy-making.”

Signed on May 8 by Executive Secretary Lucas  Bersamin, the Administrative Order 22 emphasized the formation of the special committee chaired by the Executive Secretary and co-chaired by the Department of Justice Secretary with Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretaries as members.

The order will take effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette, or a newspaper of general circulation.

“Touted as a new mechanism that comes after the UN Joint Program on human rights in the Philippines, Marcos Jr.’s human rights coordinating council is viewed as a tactic to evade accountability for the human rights violations committed during the previous and the current regimes,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

In a statement, Palabay maintained the creation of the new “super body” is  “a desperate attempt to window-dress the grave human rights situation in the country.”

“If Marcos is serious about human rights, all he has to do is allow the International Criminal Court to investigate the ‘drug war’ killings under Duterte and cooperate. He should then initiative a return of the Philippines to the ICC by re-ratifying the Rome Statute. He cannot claim respect for human rights at the same time that he prevents the single most important effort to ensure accountability for those alleged crimes against humanity,” added Conde.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director Butch Olano said that “a ‘super body’ with no political will nor decision-making authority will only result in issues being entangled in a web of red tape and get lost in the maze of bureaucratic confusion.”

“It is a superfluous addition to an already convoluted justice system in the country,” Olano said in a statement on May 12. (Ronald O. Reyes/SunStar Philippines)

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