During the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, the Philippine government rejected recommendations to end the practice of the so-called “red-tagging” (i.e. being accused of supporting the armed communist insurgency). In its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November 2022, the UNHRC reviewed the human rights situation in the Philippines and made recommendations for improvement. The review included extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, and other forms of human rights violations. On March 28, 2023, the Philippine government presented its UPR response report to the UNHRC. It showed that the Philippines has accepted only 215 of the total 289 UPR recommendations.
The Philippines’ refusal to accept the UPR recommendation to end “red-tagging” shows that the government is not committed to improving the human rights situation, the UNHRC said.
Human rights groups who also attended the 52nd UNHRC session pointed out that there have already been 227 extrajudicial killings under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos in connection with the so-called “war on drugs.” This underscores that serious human rights violations continue to happen under the Marcos administration and that the Philippines’ means of legal redress to bring about justice are inadequate. Human rights defenders such as Karapatan’s Cristina Palabay and Mervin Toquero, secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), called on the international community and non-governmental organisations to exert more pressure on the Philippine government to uphold human rights. Palabay and Toquero lead the delegation of the civil society UPR observation in Geneva.
In an UNHRC side event on March 23, 2023, human rights defenders also discussed the abduction of Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha in January 2023. Several witnesses observed men forcing the two activists into a vehicle. The perpetrators are still at large; the Philippine National Police also continues to deny its involvement in the incident.
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