PHL wins bid to keep seat in UN Human Rights Council

The Philippines won its bid to keep its seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council during elections held in New York on Friday, the Department on Foreign Affairs announced today.

In his report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Ambassador Teodoro T. Locsin, Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, said the Philippines garnered 165 votes of 192 votes cast by Member-States.

With this victory, the Philippines will get to serve another three-year term in the 47-member Council based in Geneva from 2019 to 2021.

“Our election to another term in the Human Rights Council would not have been possible without the support of other UN Member-States who clearly understood where we are coming from,” Secretary Cayetano said in a statement issued shortly after he was informed of the election results.

“Our successful bid to keep our seat in the Council is proof that many in the international community remain convinced the Philippines respects and protects human rights and have seen through the efforts of some to politicize and weaponize the issue,” Secretary Cayetano said.

The Secretary also described the fresh mandate from the General Assembly as a vindication of President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Aside from the Philippines, the other Member-States elected by the General Assembly were Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Italy, Somalia, Togo and Uruguay.

The Philippines is serving a three-year term in the Council after its election in 2015 and is serving as Vice President representing the Asia-Pacific Group. The Philippines first served in the Council from 2007 to 2009 and then from 2012 to 2014.

Secretary Cayetano, at the same time, commended the Philippine Missions in New York and Geneva led by Ambassador Locsin and Ambassador Evan Garcia, respectively, for the victory, saying Manila’s bid would not have been possible without their tireless efforts.

The Secretary said the Philippines was able to secure the victory despite a well-orchestrated effort by non-government groups to paint a wrong picture of the human rights situation in the country.

Hours before the vote, Secretary Cayetano slammed Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other non-government organizations for calling on Member-States not to support Manila’s re-election bid.

Speaking to reporters at the DFA Office of Consular Affairs on Friday, Secretary Cayetano decried what he said was the moral bankruptcy of some human rights groups that have been loudly criticizing the human rights record of the Philippines in order to solicit more funds from donors.

“Why moral bankruptcy? Katulad ngayon, budget season sa Europe. Kaya sila maingay, kasi gusto lang kumuha ng additional budget,” he said.

“If you want to talk human rights, we’re here. Upuan natin. But [if] you just want to criticize us from afar and don’t want to give solutions, and just keep saying kayo tama kami mali, it’s helping no one except you and your finances,” Secretary Cayetano said.

The Secretary also hit back at Iceland, which has been spearheading European criticism against Manila’s campaign against illegal drugs in the Council.

“Even yung pinakamaingay sa atin na Iceland. Alam mo ang number one problema ng Iceland sa human rights? It’s domestic violence,” Secretary Cayetano said.

“Ang ingay-ingay nila sa atin. Samantalang ang sa kanila the kind of violence is at home, which is the worst kind of violence kasi your home is supposed to be your castle,” the Secretary added. DFA