Philippines: We’ll improve human rights after critical US report — The Philippines says a US rights report which criticized Manila’s human rights record will help it to improve, according to a government spokesman on Saturday.
The US government report was especially critical of the Philippines for failing to stamp out extra-judicial killings.
The global annual human rights report from the US State Department, which was released Thursday, said:
“The (Philippine) government continued to investigate and prosecute only a limited number of reported human rights abuses, and concerns about impunity persisted”.
The “most significant human rights problems continued to be extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances undertaken by security forces”, it stated.
Abigail Valte, spokeswoman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino, told AFP that the government was taking note of the criticism from its key ally and aid donor.
“We’ll have the national government agencies go through it and address particular areas of concern, focusing on what can be done to further our efforts” to improve, she said.
The report criticised “a dysfunctional (Philippine) criminal justice system notable for poor cooperation between police and investigators, few prosecutions, and lengthy procedural delays”, as well as “widespread official corruption and abuse of power”.
Much of the information in the US report actually came from the Philippine agency, according to spokesman Mark Cebreros for the Philippine government’s Commission on Human Rights.
“We acknowledge there are few convictions for extra-judicial killings in this administration,” Cebreros said to AFP reporters.
He stated that there had been some improvements under Preseident Aquino, including a decrease in extra-judicial killings, according to reports.
Torture cases, however, were still at the same level, he noted.
The commission, which investigates alleged abuses, cited other problems such as lengthy trials and overcrowded prisons.
“We are talking about the entire criminal justice process,” said Cebreros.
Human rights groups allege that the Philippines suffers from a “culture of impunity” where powerful people believe they can commit rights abuses without fear of punishment.