PHILIPPINES: Response to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s statements on the complaints filed by Karapatan to the UN

A Statement from Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights (KARAPATAN) 
forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

When we file complaints to the UN, or when we issue any statement or document cases, we ensure that victims, survivors and/or their relatives not only give their consent for their cases to be publicized or filed before redress mechanisms; we give them an overview on the mechanisms available, how these mechanisms may not address their plea for justice given our bankrupt criminal justice system, and how it is more significant and imperative to be one with the poor and struggling peoples in our collectivenquest for genuine justice.

We do not file cases or complaints for mere publicity purposes. People are not mere facts in a press release. We have filed several complaints before the UN Human Rights Council and engaged with UN independent experts throughout regimes – from the administrations of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III and up to this current government. We pursue these complaints doggedly as we accompany the victims and their kin in the options that they have taken in pursuing justice.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque should perhaps look at himself in the mirror when he talks about people or groups using human rights cases to seek fame in the UN or elsewhere. Because for human rights workers of Karapatan, what we need is concrete action to investigate the cases of human rights violations and for measures to ensure that these violations will not happen again.

All the complaints of rights violations under Durterte that we have submitted to the UN have been filed before the domestic institutions – Commission on Human Rights (CHR), local courts, Department of Justice, the Ombudsman, the GRP section in its Joint Monitoring Committee with the NDFP on the CARHRIHL. May we remind Atty. Roque that exhaustion of domestic remedies is not a prerequisite in submitting letters of allegations or reports to UN Special Procedures.

Exhaustion of domestic remedies is also relative to the compliance record of State parties like the Philippines to hold the perpetrators accountable, given the notoriously tortuous court proceedings and slow turning of wheels of the justice system in the country. It is both futile and unjust to tell victims and their families for five or ten or twenty years to wait for a local court ruling on the accountability of State forces, before they can avail of international HR mechanisms.

Clearly, Atty. Roque is just using several excuses to cover-up the existence of extrajudicial killings and HR violations under Duterte and to impede the victims’ process of seeking justice and accountability.


The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.