10/08/17 Doug McVay

The UN Human Rights Council recently conducted its Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the Philippines, so this week we hear from several nongovernmental organizations concerned with human rights and the drug war.

Century of Lies
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Doug McVay
Drug War Facts
Download: Audio icon col100817.mp3



OCTOBER 8, 2017


DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century Of Lies. Century Of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

RAFAEL TORRUELLA: Did you know that each day in the state of Georgia, more than six people are diagnosed with HIV? As a person providing life saving services to those most at risk, I know HIV is preventable. We need more people in this fight, which is why I want you to join me this October in Atlanta for the 2017 Drug Policy Alliance Reform Conference. Join us in the fight to end the drug war. Register now at ReformConference.org.

DOUG MCVAY: The Human Rights Council of the United Nations recently held its Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines, among other nations. Several nation states as well as a number of nongovernmental organizations spoke about human rights conditions in the Philippines, with particular focus on their murderous campaign of death and destruction being waged under the orders of President Duterte, under the guise of a drug war.

The President of the Human Rights Council is Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli, the Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the UN Office, and he will introduce the organizations that will be speaking.

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: I give the floor to International Lesbian and Gay Association. Please.


This statement is delivered in consultation with ASEAN SOGIE Caucus and more than ten Filipino lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer organizations. We thank the governments of Australia, Mexico and Slovenia for issuing SOGIESC-specific recommendations and advanced questions. We note with appreciation that the Philippine’s accepted one of these recommendations.

We welcome the openness of the Philippine government to engage on LGBTIQ human rights issues during the Third Cycle of the UPR. We take note of the government’s vow to “integrate the human rights agenda in its development initiatives to protect all, including members of the LGBT community.” Since then, some positive steps have been made. In June 2017, the Department of Education issued a gender-responsive basic education policy with the potential of helping eradicate stereotypes against LGBTIQ persons.

In August 2017, the Quezon City Police engaged LGBTIQ defenders and high-ranking police officials in dialogue towards developing an LGBTIQ-affirmative policy guidelines.

In September 20, 2017, the House of Representatives approved the SOGIE Equality Bill. We remain concerned about efforts by some legislators to obstruct the passage of anti-discrimination bills in the Senate. We remain concerned that education institutions including some state universities continue to enforce restrictive policies on uniforms that effectively ban transgender students’ access to education. We note also many incidents of LGBTIQ persons barred or refused services by public facilities and establishments.

We reiterate our key recommendations: speed up the legislation of a national anti-discrimination law; strengthen social protection and social service programs to make them inclusive of, and accessible to LGBTIQ persons; ensure that labor policies are inclusive and promote LGBTIQ-affirmative workplaces.

Muchos gracias, Senor Presidente.

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: Center for Reproductive Rights, tienes la palabra [you have the floor].

ANA MARIA NEMENZO: Mister President, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, and Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network, are concerned that the Philippines has not accepted the recommendations to allow abortion even in limited circumstances.

We urge the Philippines to end the continued criminalization of abortion. We are concerned that the law was enacted last month increasing the fine a hundred-fold for pharmacies who dispense abortifacients without prescription. We urge the Philippines to take immediate steps to increase the increasing number of abortion complications, injuries, and maternal deaths resulting from unsafe abortions. Most recent estimates show that approximately 610,000 abortions are performed in the Philippines with 100,000 women and girls suffering complications and 1,000 women and girls dying in a year.

We urge the Philippines address the restrictions on accessing contraceptive information and services, including emergency contraceptives, and the limitations put in place by its National Reproductive Health Law. Currently, minors are not allowed to access contraceptive services without parental consent, and dedicated emergency contraceptives remain unavailable, even for survivors of sexual violence.

In particular, we urge the Philippines to take positive steps to ensure the immediate certification and recertification of contraceptives, and make them available and accessible to the 7.3 million women with a need for modern contraceptives.

We reiterate the recommendations expressed by different UN treaty monitoring bodies to ensure access of women and girls to quality reproductive health services, in particular, we urge the Philippines to implement the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee, based on a finding of grave and systematic human rights violations in a special inquiry conducted in 2012.

We likewise urge the Philippines to implement the recommendations of its National Commission on Human Rights on improving access to reproductive health and rights resulting from a national inquiry in 2016. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: Save the Children International, to be making a joint statement.

DIARRA DIOP: Thank you, Mister President. This is a joint statement on behalf of the Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Philippines. The Coalition welcomes the UPR report on the Philippines, particularly the recommendations related to children. However we would like to bring to your attention two human rights concerns that have seriously affected the lives of children in the Philippines.

Between July 2016 and August 2017, the war on drugs campaign has claimed the lives of 54 children. Some children were caught in the crossfire, while others were killed due to their alleged use and trade of prohibited drugs. Moreover, according to the conservative estimate of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the war on drugs campaign has affected more than 18,000 children who have lost one or both of their parents or who have witnessed the killing of their loved ones in their homes and communities.

Children should not be cast aside as mere collateral damage. We call for a humane, comprehensive, and sustainable response to the problem of drugs in the country, with the end to the killings, ensuring accountability and due process in dealing with those who offend the law.

Victims, especially children who were orphaned or affected by the killings, should be provided with long-term interventions based on their psychosocial and socio-economic needs.

Filipino children continue to be displaced, recruited, maimed and killed because of armed conflict in various parts of the country, especially in Mindanao. To date, the conflict in Marawi, which started in May 2017, is still far from over. There are now more than 360,000 internally displaced, and around 80,000 children who have lost family members, friends, and relatives. Ten public schools were destroyed, affecting more than 22,000 students.

We urge the Congress to pass proposed bills that seek to prevent the recruitment, use, or displacement of children in armed conflict areas, and we call on the government to implement Republic Act 10821 and to provide appropriate interventions for the recovery and rehabilitation of children involved in and affected by armed conflict. Thank you.


SISTER CRESCENCIA LUCERO: Thank you, Mr President. Franciscans International, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines would like to express our concerns on the serious and deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines.

While UPR is expected to be a constructive engagement of state in improving their human rights situation of the state under review, the Government of the Philippines fails to accept key recommendations, such as cases of extrajudicial executions in the frame of government’s policy on war on drugs. It also rejects to collaborate with other UN mechanisms, especially the UN Special Procedures on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Execution for a country visit.

We express our grave concern on violent policies of the current government against its own people. Now we are experiencing the return of Presidential dictatorship and tyrannical ways of leadership, which we thought ended 31 years ago.

Due process and the rule of law are set aside for the poor and powerless while politicians charged with plunder are set free on bail. The war on drugs policy has indifferently killed more than 12 000 Filipinos, including innocent children. Most victims are those coming from the poor and marginalized background.

We also observe the obsession of the government to apply martial law, as currently happens in Mindanao, which leads to more than 300,000 people being internally displaced. We human rights defenders continue to receive threats from the government, as shown by the public statement of the President in August 16, who stated that those working on human rights should be shot by the police for obstructing justice.

Recently, Bishop Virgilio --

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: Thank you. Global Initiative has the floor.

ROSANNA CABUSAO: This statement is made with the support of GABRIELA, an alliance of more than 200 women's groups in the Philippines. Barely five months since the Philippine government presented its report, yet parts of the country have become a virtual inferno with incessant bombings by the military in Marawi and brutal killings by the police every day. Martial law in Mindanao was extended, and we fear a nationwide coverage.

Threats of rape have become tools of war to drive women into submission. GABRIELA became the subject of implicit threats by the military when we reported on rape threats by soldiers against women victims of the Marawi bombings. Militarism combined with the misogynism of top government officials to create a very unfavorable climate for women's human rights.

Women are among the victims of politically-motivated arrests, state-sanctioned killings, and sexist remarks by top officials in government. While the Philippines has legislated pro-women laws, these have virtually no meaning as the basic economic, political, social, and cultural rights of women are largely either unmet or violated with impunity.

Young women toil as modern-day slaves under a system of labor contractualization. The 2017 national health budget was only US 5 cents per day per capita. Privatization of public services further threatens women’s access to adequate maternal and reproductive health care.

We call on the Philippine government to: stop using rape as an instrument of war; end martial law in Mindanao; end labor contractualization; guarantee the rights of women to a fair wage; guarantee women’s access to adequate maternal and basic healthcare. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: International Humanist and Ethical Union has the floor.

ELIZABETH O'CASEY: Thank you, Mister President. This statement is supported by the Filipino Freethinkers.

The IHEU is extremely disappointed by the reaction of the Philippines in response to concerns raised by a number of states about extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and torture in President Duterte’s so-called-war-on-drugs. Its talk of ‘alternate facts’ being spread by critics and the media seeks to deny the existence of the problem and essentially brands those questioning this narrative as liars.

Regrettably, the Philippines has given no reason to expect improvement. On the contrary, on the 16th of August, Filipino police killed 32 people in what is believed to be the highest death toll in a single day in this “war” that has cost over 7,000 lives since the 30th of June 2016.

Since the review, President Duterte has continued to threaten human rights defenders and those who criticize his ruling, saying that that they will be shot if they obstruct justice. Whilst these comments are notable in their going against a plethora of human rights standards, there is also something deeply cynical about the targeting of those who aim to defend people who can't defend themselves.

We applaud the government for standing firm against pressure from the Catholic Church and other critics by adopting the Reproductive Health Act. Access to SRHR education and contraception is essential for women to fulfil a wide range of rights, particularly in a country where long-standing hostility towards modern contraception had contributed to 4,500 women dying from pregnancy complications, 800,000 unintended births, and 475,000 illegal abortions each year.

We were regretful that no recommendations were made calling for the Philippines to revoke the penal code article criminalizing acts that offend religious feelings. As pointed out by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and his predecessor, anti-blasphemy laws undermine the human right to free expression and freedom or religion or belief. We would like to take this opportunity to urge the Philippines to remove this article with urgency. I thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

SHAQITA BORDEN: Did you know that in the US, black women have the highest HIV infection rates of all women? As a public health professional, I know we can do better. Every day, I work to close the gap in health inequities, but I'm just one person. We need you to join us in this important fight. This October, we're coming to Atlanta for the 2017 Drug Policy Alliance Reform Conference. Join us in the fight to end the drug war. Register now at ReformConference.org.

KENNETH GLASGOW: As a formerly incarcerated person, I know firsthand all the ways that we are disenfranchised when we are run through the system. Every day I work to help people regain their rights and dignity, but the fight is far from over. We need you to join us in this important fight. This October, we're coming to Atlanta for the 2017 Drug Policy Alliance Reform Conference. Join us in the fight to end the drug war. Register now at ReformConference.org.

DAWN PALEY: Hey, my name's Dawn Paley, I'm the author of Drug War Capitalism, and I just want to give a shout out to the people at Drug Truth Network who are doing amazing work to get the stories out. You know, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! talks about trickle up journalism. I'm a firm believer, you know, like, where these are being reported first, who's on the ground covering this conference and doing all these interviews? It's Doug McVay. Drug Truth Network. So, listen up and thanks again for your so-important work in terms of just getting the truth out there and getting these stories, which are just so repressed in the mainstream media, out to the broader public.

DOUG MCVAY: We're listening to the Human Rights Council as it discusses the Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the Philippines. Now, let's get back to that.

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, tienes la palabra.

ELLECER CARLOS: Thank you, Mister. President. FORUM-ASIA makes this statement in solidarity with the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines. We regret that the Government of the Philippines did not accept 154 of the 257 recommendations it received at its Universal Periodic Review, particularly those on ending and investigating extrajudicial killings, protecting human rights defenders, and ensuring the right of freedom of expression.

The Philippines has continued to defend its war on drugs but refuses to ensure that practices and policies conform to international human rights standards. It refuses to end and denounce extrajudicial killings. It also fails to ensure independent and impartial investigations, with the view of ensuring accountability for the thousands of cases reported. Furthermore, the Philippines refuses to cooperate with and grant unfettered and unconditional access to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings.

Since the Philippines' UPR in May, killings in the war on drugs have increased, with over 60 people killed in police operations in the span of two days in August. Disturbingly, the Philippine President publicly encouraged police to continue operations in such magnitude.

The Philippines has also failed to accept recommendations on protecting human rights defenders and journalists, and ensuring a safe and enabling environment for their work. In addition to the high number of killings of human rights defenders, especially indigenous, environmental and land rights defenders, threats have increased with the Philippine president stating that human rights workers should be shot by police. Media reporting on the war on drugs also face intimidation and harassment.

The Philippines further risks backtracking on its international human rights obligations by refusing to accept recommendations to maintain the abolition of the death penalty and to maintain the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

FORUM-ASIA calls upon the government of the Philippines to fully accept the remaining recommendations it noted and to seek technical assistance if needed. Furthermore, FORUM-ASIA calls upon the government of the Philippines --

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: Gracias. International Service for Human Rights, declaración conjunta, gracias [joint statement, thank you]

RONEO CLAMOR: Thank you, Mister President. CIVICUS and ISHR welcome the Philippine Government's engagement in the UPR process. However, despite claims of the state party during the May 2017 review, Filipino human rights defenders continue to have serious concerns about the environment for HRDs in the country.

Mister President, the systematic and targeted killings of HRDs, under the cover of quote and unquote "counterinsurgency programs" have long been a problem. On average, our partners documented 40 killings per year from 2001 to 2016. In the past year however, this number has risen to 50 HRDs, many who were leaders of peasant and indigenous communities. This is largely due to President Duterte's war on drugs, which has also resulted in thousands more casualties of regular Filipino citizens.

Since the May review, human rights activists have seen no reprieve in the harassment and threats by State security forces. This includes the Secretary General of people’s organization Karapatan, Cristina Palabay.

Duterte's pronouncements endanger the lives of HRDs who speak out against his repressive policies, including the drug war and martial law declarations, as well as for respect of rights, such as to a safe and healthy environment. The filing of trumped-up charges to criminalize HRDs has been normalized by the government, hampering us from doing our work and violating our freedom of association.

Most recently, the ominous signs of a nationwide martial law under President Duterte hover like a sword of Damocles over HRDs and the Filipino people. Our history shows that such a decision will worsen the current state of human rights in our country.

We therefore urge the Council to ensure that the Philippine government respect its pledges and commitments, as stated in the UPR outcome report. We call for a halt to all forms of attacks on human rights defenders, the enactment of a law for their protection, and the acceptance of a full, independent visit to the Philippines by UN Special Rapporteurs, including on the situation of HRDs. Thank you, Mister President.

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: International Federation For Human Rights Leagues has the floor.

MANON KARATAS: Mister President, FIDH and Amnesty International condemn the Philippines government’s negative response to key recommendations it received during the country’s third UPR. The government did not accept any of the 44 recommendations related to extrajudicial executions, none of the 23 recommendations calling for the Philippines to refrain from reinstating the death penalty, and none of the 13 recommendations to protect human rights defenders and journalists.

The ongoing assault on human rights, underscored by President Duterte’s so-called war on drugs and his violent rhetoric, raises serious doubts over the government’s commitment to the protection of human rights and in particular its disregard for the right to life.

It is regrettable that the Philippine government used the UPR as a platform to justify its lethal anti-drug policies, which overwhelmingly targets poor and marginalized communities and to hide the magnitude of the number of people killed, which have now reached many thousand, and up to 12,000 according to some estimates, since President Duterte took office on the 30th June 2016.

We also find deeply troubling the reports of lethal attacks, carried out on peace activists, human rights defenders, and journalists in the country. We condemn President Duterte’s numerous derogatory statements and threats against human rights defenders, including the National Commission on Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. These statements have created an increasingly hostile environment for human rights defenders in the country.

Given the government’s apparent unwillingness to conduct investigations into cases of extrajudicial executions, we urge the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution that establishes an international, independent, commission of investigation into such cases. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI: Lawyers' Rights Watch Canad has the floor. Not with us. Human Rights Watch?

JOHN FISHER: Thank you, Mister President. We are dismayed that the Philippines rejected all UPR recommendations that would make a practical difference in ending extrajudicial killings perpetrated in the name of its murderous war on drugs.

It rejected Peru’s recommendation to cooperate with special procedures by extending a standing invitation, and recommendations by Ghana, Hungary and others to allow access to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, without conditions that might compromise her impartiality.

We are deeply concerned that rather than investigating compelling evidence of culpability of police and their agents in many of those killings, President Duterte has launched a campaign of vilification and harassment against individuals and institutions pursuing accountability for those abuses.

In its UPR responses, the Philippines even refused to accept recommendations to protect journalists and human rights defenders, or reject incitement to violence.

Instead of calling for respect for international standards or due process, President Duterte has said of drug suspects, quote: "My order is to shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me." And, quote: "I will kill you, I will kill you. Forget about the laws of men, forget about the laws of international law, whatever." Unquote.

Does the delegation deny President Duterte made these remarks? Does it believe that any killing without due process is justified if perpetrated in the name of the war on drugs?

The High Commissioner said in his update to this session, quote: "I continue to be gravely concerned by the President's open support for a shoot-to-kill policy regarding suspects, as well as by the apparent absence of credible investigations into reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings, and the failure to prosecute any perpetrator." Unquote.

If the Philippines will not face up to its international responsibilities and obligations as a member of this Council, the Council should step in, and do all that it can to end the violence, support independent international investigations into the deaths, and demand accountability for all unlawful killings. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: You're listening to Century of Lies, we're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. We're listening to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations during its Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines that was conducted on September 22nd.

The speakers have included the President of the Human Rights Council Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the UN; Ms. Diana Carolina Prado Mosquera, from the International Lesbian and Gay Association; Ms. Ana Maria Nemenzo, from the Center for Reproductive Rights, Inc.; Ms. Diarra Diop, from Save the Children International; Sister Crescencia Lucero, from Franciscans International; Ms. Rosanna Cabusao, from the Global Initiative for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; Ms. Elizabeth O'Casey, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union; Mister Ellecer Carlos, from the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development; Mister Roneo Clamor, delivering a joint statement from the International Service for Human Rights; Ms. Manon Karatas, from the International Federation For Human Rights Leagues; and John Fisher, from Human Rights Watch.

GRETCHEN BURNS BERGMAN: Did you know that in Georgia, one in 13 adults is in jail or prison or on parole or probation? As a mother and as a professional, I advocate for access to drug treatment instead of incarceration. We need you to join us in this important fight. This October, we're coming to Atlanta for the 2017 Drug Policy Alliance Reform Conference. Come lend your voice to the fight. Register now at ReformConference.org.

DOUG MCVAY: All right. Well, dear listeners, you may have noticed from the PSAs scattered throughout today's show that the Drug Policy Alliance is holding its International Drug Policy Refom Conference in Atlanta this year. It's scheduled for October 11th through 14th. It's at the Omni-CNN in Atlanta, Georgia. You can get information and you can register at ReformConference.org.

This year, the Drug Policy Alliance will be giving its awards to a number of very distinguished people:

- The winner of the Richard J. Dennis DrugPeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform is going to Ethan Nadelmann, the former director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

- The Justice Gerald LeDain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law is going to US Senator Cory Booker.

- The Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Media is being awarded posthumously to Javier Valdez Cardenas.

- The Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship is going to Michelle Alexander, author of the award-winning book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Color Blindness.

- The Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action is going to two people this year: Pastor Kenneth Glasgow from The Ordinary People Society, and Kathie Kane-Willis, from Roosevelt University and now Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Chicago Urban League.

- The Norman E. Zinberg Award for Achievement in the Field of Medicine is going to Doctor Jack Fishman.

- The Doctor Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education is going to Mark Kinzly.

- And the H. B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement is going to Diane Goldstein, from the Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

I'll be there at the Drug Policy Alliance conference, and I'll be bringing you back a lot of great audio and some great interviews. I look forward to seeing all of my friends and colleagues there at DPA in Atlanta, and I hope to see you there too. Again, registration and information available at ReformConference.org.

And that's it for this week. Thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I’ve been your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs are available via podcast, the URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at DrugTruth.net.

The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give its page a like and share it with friends. Remember: Knowledge is power. Follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back next week with thirty more minutes of news and information about the drug war and this century of lies. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.