Despite the tireless efforts of national and international human rights groups in calling attention to the devastating human rights situation in the Philippines, the UN Human Rights Council ended its 51st session in Geneva on October 7, 2022, without passing another UN resolution on the Philippines. The outcome of the session is a major blow to the victims of human rights violations in the Philippines as well as to the organisations seeking justice and accountability for the human rights violations.
For Germany, the protection of human rights in the Philippines is a priority in its bilateral relations with the island state, emphasised the German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel in September 2022. Nevertheless, she said, it is too early for Germany to assess the human rights situation under the new Marcos government. Germany would first like to wait for the assessment of the Philippines within the framework of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on November 14, 2022, in Geneva.
To the day, on 21 September 2022, 50 years after his father imposed martial law on the Philippines, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. addressed the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Human rights groups consider this an insult to victims of the atrocities that occurred during martial law under Marcos Sr. Although President Marcos Jr. has secured international recognition at the UNGA, this will not undo the crimes of the dictator and his family, stressed Secretary-General Renato Reyes of the activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
Instead of naming the problematic human rights situation in the Philippines, Marcos referred in New York to wanting to put a focus on “joint efforts” to curb climate change. Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch (HRW) commented: “Marcos’s predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte, set the human rights bar in the Philippines so low that even if Marcos does nothing, he looks like a more rights-respecting leader. And that’s exactly what he has done so far – nothing – when it comes to improving human rights in the Philippines.”
In addition, Marcos called on UN member states to support the Philippines’ candidacy for the Security Council for the 2027-2028 term. In doing so, he said, he draws on the “successes” of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). BARMM replaced the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which is perceived as a “failed experiment” to grant more autonomy to Filipino Muslims in the southern Philippines. It should be noted that the separatist movement in Bangsamoro intensified because of former dictator Marcos Sr.