On 17 August 2022, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla together with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo and Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS) provided a briefing for the diplomatic community on the progress of the government’s commitments under the UN Joint Programme (UNJP) on Human Rights.
Signed between the government of the Philippines and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Philippines in July 2021, the UNJP seeks to focus on technical cooperation and capacity-building on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. Through the Programme, the Philippine government leverages its long-standing, open and constructive engagement with the UN system and external partners to support this robust national multi-stakeholder process.
In his welcome remarks, DFA Secretary Manalo mentioned that the briefing was part of the Government’s long-standing tradition of open dialogue and constructive engagement with the international community on human rights. He highlighted that the ultimate strength of the UNJP is that the commitments undertaken by the Philippines by the Philippines are not extraneous to, but in fact are core, to the functions of the government and to its programming.
“In a span of a year, the UNJP has made significant headway in fostering consensus building and collaborative partnerships in a broad spectrum of target areas under the UNJP,” Secretary Manalo said.
For his part, DOJ Secretary Remulla stated that the DOJ’s work in the context of the UNJP is not new but a reiteration and reaffirmation of its commitment to constant self-improvement in the area of strengthening of domestic mechanisms and processes relating to the rule of law, accountability, and human rights.
Secretary Remulla underscored that the government would continue with its human rights commitments “even with more vigor and enthusiasm.”
“When I took the helm of the DOJ last month, I bared plans to boost the efficiency of the country’s criminal justice system. Since the UNJP’s launch last year, the DOJ continued to embark on inclusive consultations on the improved functioning of the AO35 Mechanisms or the Inter-Agency Committee that addresses extra-legal killings and other grave violations of human rights,” Secretary Remulla said.
For his part, Undersecretary Severo Catura of the PHRCS highlighted that his office is focused on the Executive Department, ensuring the compliance of all government bodies under it with human rights obligations pursuant to domestic laws and international human rights law. This, he pointed out, attests to the seriousness of the State in putting human rights as a pillar of effective governance.
Undersecretary Catura discussed the progress of commitments under the UNJP including the development on the National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-up (NMRF) tracking database, Human Rights Recording, Analysis, Information System, and Enforcement (HuRAISE) of the PNP-Human Rights Affairs Office (HRAO), Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy (PADS), and proposals on localizing HRD protection mechanisms.
Asked during the open forum if there had been any cases filed arising from the drug-war related incidents processed by the DOJ’s special review panel, DOJ Secretary Remulla mentioned several complaints for murder, perjury and planting of evidence against police officers that are currently being investigated by the prosecution offices.