Several international church organizations and institutions have voiced support this week for a UN Human Rights Council investigation into alleged human rights abuses in the Philippines.
In a “Unity Statement for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines,” the groups they stand with the Filipino people in light of the “deteriorating situation of civil liberties and human rights in the Philippines.”
“We continue to raise the alarm on the disturbing proliferation of killings, human rights violations and attacks on civil liberties in the Philippines,” read the statement signed by several global church groups.
“We commit ourselves to bear witness in word and in deed, by advocating and educating about these commitments in our own countries, with our governments and diplomats, and in our agencies and work places,” it added.
The statement expressed support for the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, including recommendations from at least two dozen UN human rights experts for the UN Human Rights Council to “establish an on-the-ground independent, impartial investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines.”
The statement was issued on the eve of the joint informal meeting initiated by Iceland and the Philippines in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sept. 18.
“We will aid in broadening international support for and solidarity with the Filipino people. Their call for the Philippine government to uphold human rights, provide reparations to victims of state abuses, seek peace, and enact justice are equally our call,” read the statement.
The groups expressed alarm over the recent passage into law of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which they said poses serious threats to civil liberties.
“This law runs counter to the Bill of Rights clearly enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and to obligations arising from international human rights instruments and mechanisms that Philippines has acceded to,” read the statement.
It said the law “practically legitimizes unlawful arrests and detentions, thereby undermining due process of law and equal protection of the law that are guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution.”
The groups said the proliferation of extrajudicial killings, including the alleged killing of thousands of people under the so-called “war on drugs,” is “reprehensible.”
“We call for an end to these killings. We stand with the Filipino citizenry in denouncing state impunity and the wanton display of violence and brutality by state forces,” the groups said.
“We affirm that due process of law and the equal protection of the law are constitutive of a just and democratic governance and guarantees protections arising from both domestic and international laws that the Philippines have sworn to abide by,” they added.
They said the continuing violations of human rights during the pandemic accentuate the urgent need for intensified accompaniment and solidarity from church formations and people of goodwill within and outside the Philippines.
Signatories to the “Unity Statement” include the ACT Alliance, Anglican Church of Canada, Christian Conference of Asia, Council for World Mission, General Board of Global Ministries — The United Methodist Church, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.
Also expressing their support are Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, National Council of Churches in Australia, National Council of Churches in Korea, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, Presbyterian Church USA, United Society Partners in the Gospel-UK, United Church of Canada, United Evangelical Mission, Uniting Church in Australia, Uniting World, World Communion of Reformed Churches, and World Student Christian Federation.