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Hontiveros, De Lima point out lack of competition in PHL’s re-election to UNHRC

Senator Risa Hontiveros and Senator Leila De Lima on Monday separately criticized the "hypocrisy'" of the Duterte administration in lauding the country's re-election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and  such event.

Hontiveros said that outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano's claim that it shows the international community's confidence in the Duterte administration is "grossly misleading."

"It exposes the government's ignorance of the UN's complex dynamic. Ano ito, lotto, nanalo tayo? The Duterte government cannot claim winning a seat on the UNHRC when all UN member-states agreed to take turns sitting on the council," Hontiveros said.

The Akbayan senator further explained that any form of competition has been eliminated as there were only 18 candidates for the 18 available seats on the council.

Each of the five regions only had the exact number of candidates for the spots to be filled:

  • Africa - 5 spots, 5 candidates (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia, Togo)
  • Asia-Pacific - 5 spots, 5 candidates (Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Philippines)
  • Eastern Europe - 2 spots, 2 candidates (Bulgaria, Czech Republic)
  • Latin America & Caribbean - 3 spots, 3 candidates (Argentina, Bahamas, Uruguay)
  • Western Europe & other states - 3 spots, 3 candidates (Austria, Denmark, Italy)

"And yet, despite the absence of any competition, 27 countries decided to withhold their votes from the Philippines. Among the 193 countries in the UN General Assembly, 192 cast their votes. The Philippines got only 165, the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region," she added.

Hontiveros said that this clearly speaks of the negative human rights image that the Philippines has abroad.

In a statement, De Lima also pointed out the lack of competition in the council election.

"If re-election of the Philippines proves anything, it just means Cayetano and his ilk are good in the 'numbers game' and in playing up the dynamics at the UN General Assembly," De Lima said.

"It should not escape us that for the first time in the UNHRC’s history, the five (5) voting regions, including Asia, had only submitted as many candidates as there were seats available, thus removing competition, a move seen by some in the international human rights community as a 'mockery of the electoral exercise',"  she added.

De Lima said that the recent re-election cannot cover up the "deteriorating human rights situation" in the country.

The former justice secretary believes that amid the killings related to the "drug mayhem" in the country, the Philippines does not deserve a seat in the UNHRC.

"A government sitting on a monstrous pile of corpses of more than 22,000 mostly poor Filipinos should have no right preaching human rights and taking part in an important global institution tasked to address situations of gross rights violations across the globe," De Lima said.

"More than winning a seat for the government at the UNHRC, what the Filipinos really need and deserve is a place among the civilized nations, a seat at the theatre of humanity where the inherent, universal and inalienable dignity and equality of all human persons are fully respected and truly protected," she added. — Dona Magsino/BM, GMA News