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PHL officials head for Geneva for rights records review

A high-level Philippine delegation will leave for Geneva, Switzerland this weekend for the Second Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, which will review the Philippines' human rights record on May 29. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will lead the Philippine delegation, which will include representatives from various government agencies. "The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism by which the human rights records of member countries of the United Nations is reviewed by member states with the view to further promote and protect the overall enjoyment of people's human rights," the Department of Foreign Affairs said. Also, the DFA noted De Lima is a human rights advocate and chaired the Commission on Human Rights during the Arroyo administration. Meanwhile, Philippine militants also arrived in Geneva, this time for an "alternative" review. "Touchdown Geneva. Preparing for forum on alternative ‪#humanrightsPH‬ report," Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. tweeted. The DFA said the Philippines underwent the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2008. Among the concerns that the Philippine delegation will address at the Human Rights Council are alleged extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture. The DFA said the enhancement of the domestic, legal and institutional capacities on these issues remains one of the government's priorities. It said the Philippines continues to undertake concrete measures in addressing these issues, such as coordination between the State's investigative, prosecutorial, and security agencies with civil society organizations. "The Supreme Court has also instructed all lower courts to prioritize the resolution of pending cases of human rights violations," it added. Meanwhile, the Philippine delegation will also highlight to the international community the strong human rights platform along with the supposed progress and achievements of the Aquino administration on the matter. "President Benigno Aquino III has firmly committed [himself] to the promotion and protection of human rights as a pillar of his administration, while respecting the rule of law, justice and due process, and with continuing engagement of civil society and all stakeholders," the DFA said. Moreover, it said the Philippine government's participation in the Universal Periodic Review "highlights its commitment to further strengthening the protection and promotion of human rights, most especially for the vulnerable sectors of society." — LBG, GMA News