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In the framework of the recent deterioration of the human rights situation in the country, a delegation from EP Subcommittee on Human Rights has just concluded a visit to the Philippines.

The four-member DROI delegation that visited the Philippines 18-20 July 2017 was led by Soraya Post (S&D, SE) and composed of Ádám Kósa (EPP, HU), Josef Weidenholzer (S&D, AT) and Rikke Karlsson (ECR, DK).

 

The Chair of the delegation, Ms Soraya Post, stated: "The objective of our mission is to gather information, to exchange views on issues of mutual interest and to get a real picture and a better understanding of the situation in the Philippines as well as to raise our concerns. As we are all members of a global community, living on the same planet, we note that in many countries, there is a clear backlash with regard to respect for human rights, something which requires global responsibility."

 

Importance of fair trials and concerns about possible restoration of death penalty

 

The delegation visited Senator De Lima who is currently being detained at the National Police detention centre and reiterated the principle of the presumption of innocence. MEPs called on the authorities of the Philippines to guarantee a fair trial to the Senator and let her fulfil a senator's duties including voting in the Senate.

 

While welcoming the government's policy to battle the problem of illegal drugs, to alleviate poverty, to provide free access to university education and to invest in human capital in terms of health, including reproductive health as well as the peace processes, the delegation in frank and constructive discussions expressed its concern about the high number of extrajudicial killings in the context of the war against drugs and the possible extension of Martial Law. It also expressed its strong concern over draft bills in Congress to lower the age of criminal responsibility for children from 15 years to 9 years and to restore the death penalty.

 

Prevention and rehabilitation key in addressing drug issues

 

On drug issues, while recognising that the Philippines face a serious challenge, the delegation strongly encouraged the government to identify cases of drug-related arrests where they could put in place an independent investigation mechanism, and to include this issue in the National Monitoring Mechanism in order to put an end to impunity. In addition, MEPs visited a drug rehabilitation centre set up by the government, and strongly encouraged the authorities to continue developing prevention and rehabilitation mechanisms nationwide. The delegation further visited a centre for juvenile offenders and strongly called on the government to take due care of their fate and provide sufficient support.

 

Note to editors

 

The delegation had meetings with Secretary Ramon Lopez (Trade and Industry), Secretary Silvestre Bello (Department of Labour and Employment) and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. Meetings with the Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senator Risa Hontiveros and the Archbishop Socrates Villegas also took place. In addition, the MEPs met with the Commission on Human Rights, civil society organisations representatives, NGOs, journalists, bloggers and international organisations such as the ICRC, UNHCR, UNFPA and UNICEF.

 

The EU-Philippines relationship covers a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in 2012, trade preferences to export Philippines' products to the EU market, under the GSP+, and the conclusion of a free trade agreement negotiation (FTA) which are all based on respect for human rights. The European Parliament will continue to closely monitor the human rights situation.