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Philippines’ pro-China stance on Myanmar also risks human rights defense in the Philippines Statement on the UNHRC resolution on Myanmar

The Philippines has dissociated from the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution on Myanmar which sought the release of elected civilian leaders including President Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi, restraint on violence against protesters, and the lifting of the state of emergency. The UNHRC’s special session on Myanmar was held after the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions, arms embargoes and travel bans in response to the military coup. The United States, which had already imposed sanctions, was able to revive its membership in the Council in time for the special session.

Resolution A/HRC/S-29/L.1 which was adopted by the Council without a vote, had in fact been watered down from an original draft by Britain and the European Union, seeking to allow increased assistance and resources to the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar to scrutinize the situation on the ground. In removing these phrases, Council members hoped to gain the support of detractors such as China and Russia, but failed.

The Philippines shared Russia and China’s view that Myanmar’s military coup is an internal matter. This had been the cornerstone of Philippine foreign policy ever since the start of President Duterte’s war on drugs, wherein his government fully rejected any inquiry on the basis of its international human rights obligations. In 2019 the Philippines and China were the only countries which rejected a UNHRC resolution condemning, and calling for an end to the violence and human rights violations against the Rohingya population and other ethnic minorities in Myanmar.

Duterte’s consistent pro-China positioning in the international body serves to hide his own domestic human rights calamity, and evades the likelihood of international scrutiny towards the massive summary killings and gross human rights violations, including against human rights defenders in the Philippines.

Freedom and democracy in Myanmar can only be protected when freedom and democracy in our country is defended and strengthened. As we join in solidarity with the people of Myanmar calling for an end to the military coup, and an end to elite democracy, we also call on the Filipino people to dissociate themselves from Duterte’s autocratic rule. When our own sovereignty has been so blatantly betrayed to a foreign power, our people must stand, just like the people of Myanmar, with raised fists, banging pots, and marching out.

And when the time comes to choose our next leaders, our people must demonstrate to the international community that we want leaders who champion our global values of democracy, freedom and human rights.

iDEFEND an PAHRA fully support the UNHRC resolution on Myanmar and call on the Philippine government to fully comply with it, support the restoration of the duly elected civilian government, and urge the lifting of the state of emergency.

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement