Church-backed Philippine human rights activists have reiterated their call on the UN Human Rights Council to "keep pursuing our government to stop the extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations". The UN body is meeting in Geneva until 18 June 2008.
On Tuesday 3 June, in an oral intervention before the UN, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the Asian Legal Resource Center, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and a Philippine NGO delegation commended and fully supported the findings presented by Phillip Alston, the UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
Alston's report concluded that state security forces have been involved in many of the killings of left-wing activists, indigenous leaders, trade union and farmer leaders and civil society organization members and that the military remains in a 'state of denial' over these killings.
The human rights advocates reported 13 victims of extrajudicial killings and two victims of enforced disappearances this year alone. Many more were abducted, according to the statement. Military abuses have reportedly displaced thousands of villagers in Mindanao, Samar, Quezon and Negros islands. The independent human rights watchdog Karapatan has registered over 800 victims of extrajudicial killings since 2001.
The problem will not be solved, the human rights advocates affirmed, "unless the counter-insurgency policy changes and the other recommendations made by the special rapporteur are seriously carried out".
The WCC's long-standing support of the human rights engagement of churches in the Philippines was reaffirmed during the WCC general secretary's visit to the country last November. Already during previous sessions of the UN Human Rights Council, the WCC had helped Philippine human rights advocates to make their voices heard.