PH secures another term at the UN rights body

MANILA -- The Philippines was able to secure another term as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council during elections in New York, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saturday.

Ambassador Teodoro Locsin Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, said the Philippines garnered 165 votes of 192 votes cast by member-states.

With this victory, the Philippines will get to serve another three-year term in the 47-member Council based in Geneva from 2019 to 2021.

Outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano welcomed Manila's win, thanking UN member-states that "clearly understood where we are coming from."

Our successful bid to keep our seat in the Council is proof that many in the international community remain convinced the Philippines respects and protects human rights and have seen through the efforts of some to politicize and weaponize the issue, Cayetano said in a statement.

Aside from the Philippines, the other member-states elected by the general assembly were Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Italy, Somalia, Togo, and Uruguay.

The Philippines is serving a three-year term in the council after its election in 2015 and is serving as vice president representing the Asia-Pacific group.

The Philippines first served in the Council from 2007 to 2009 and then from 2012 to 2014.

Cayetano said the Philippines was able to secure the victory despite a well-orchestrated effort by non-government groups to paint a wrong picture of the human rights situation in the country.

On Friday night, Cayetano slammed the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other non-government organizations for launching an opposition campaign against Manila's re-election bid.

Speaking to reporters at the DFA Office of Consular Affairs, Cayetano decried what he said was the moral bankruptcy of some human rights groups that have been loudly criticizing the human rights record of the Philippines to solicit more funds from donors.

Why moral bankruptcy? Katulad ngayon, budget season sa Europe. Kaya sila maingay, kasi gusto lang kumuha ng additional budget (Like now, it's budget season in Europe. That's why they're noisy, because they want to get additional budget), he said.

If you want to talk human rights, we're here. Upuan natin (Let's sit down). But (if) you just want to criticize us from afar and don't want to give solutions, and just keep saying, 'Kayo tama, kami mali' (You're right, we're wrong), it's helping no one except you and your finances, Cayetano said.

The official stressed that the Philippines, as a major labor-sending country, deserves a seat at the human rights body since one of the biggest human rights challenges at present is on the issue of migration.

"Have you heard the Human Rights Watch oppose (any) western or European country? These western countries are the ones against the Global Compact on Migration. Not all but some," he said. "Us, with 10 million Filipinos abroad, we know the struggle of a migrant." (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency