Genuine Accountability Instead of “Special Committee” for Human Rights

Under the new Administrative Order 22, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. created a “Special Committee” on Human Rights Coordination tasked to “enhance mechanism for the promotion of human rights protection in the Philippines. This will be “in charge of sustaining initiatives and accomplishments of the United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP)”, a three-year program that resulted from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution 45/33, adopted on 7 October 2020. This resolution outlined specific areas for capacity-building and technical cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) expresses grave concerns regarding this Special Committee. This super body has no UN oversight, and with repressive laws such as the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 in place, we fear that it will just be a form of window dressing if not downright ineffective.

There were only a few to no notable changes in the human rights situation even with the presence of the UNJP. The government has continuously failed to stop human rights violations, to bring to justice those accountable, and to curb the climate of impunity.

If the Philippine government is truly committed to respecting human rights and a “high level of accountability” for human rights violations, it should have implemented its accepted recommendations from the 4th Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review by the UNHRC. Additionally, the government should have acted on the recommendations from the official visits of Special Rapporteurs Mr. Ian Fry, on Climate Change in the Context of Human Rights, and Ms. Irene Khan, on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

As a Council of Churches that prays and works for peace and justice, we reiterate our calls to the government to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Law and other related laws, abolish the NTF-ELCAC, provide redress for the killings and other violations against human rights defenders, and to sincerely engage in peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). About the recent decision of the Supreme Court on red-tagging, we echo the calls for the government to issue an executive order to implement the decision and we also call on our lawmakers to pass a law that will penalize acts of red-tagging.

The Filipino people deserve genuine solutions to the human rights crisis in the country. The NCCP is firmly committed to praying and working for true accountability and sincere efforts in respecting and promoting human rights in the Philippines for “it is not good to favor the guilty, nor to reject the claim of the just” (Proverbs 24:23; 28:021), AMP


21 May 2024

Bishop Melzar D. Labuntog

The Most Rev. Brent Harry W. Alawas

Ms. Jennifer Ferariza-Meneses

Pastor Jon Dave A. Angeles
Vice Chairperson

Rev. Leonardo R. Morada

Ms. Minnie Anne M. Calub
General Secretary