Press Release
October 15, 2018


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros today condemned the Duterte government's statement that the Philippines "won a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)," saying it is "grossly misleading and hypocritical."

It was reported that outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that the Philippines won a seat on the UNHRC. He said it showed the international community's confidence in the Duterte administration's human rights record and war on drugs.

"First, it is grossly misleading. It exposes the government's ignorance of the UN's complex dynamic. Ano ito, lotto, nanalo tayo? The Duterte government cannot claim winning a seat on the UNHRC when all UN member-states agreed to take turns sitting on the council," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros explained that elections to the council happen annually. UN member-states serve for three years on a rotational basis, as some of the seats expire on 31 December every year. There are 47 seats, equitably distributed according to five regional divisions. She said that some countries are out of the council simply because they didn't apply for a second consecutive term, while some are out because they already served two consecutive terms, barring them for re-election.

The opposition Senator said that there were only 18 candidates for the 18 available seats on the council, eliminating any form of competition and assuring all candidates of seats on the council regardless of their rights records. "And yet, despite the absence of any competition, 27 countries decided to withhold their votes from the Philippines. Among the 193 countries in the UN General Assembly, 192 cast their votes. The Philippines got only 165, the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region," Hontiveros said.

"The votes our country got, with 27 countries going out of their way to withhold their votes from us, speak clearly of the Philippines's negative human rights image abroad. This is the reality the Duterte government is trying to hide from the public," Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros also said the Duterte government's claim is hypocritical. "After constantly attacking the UN human rights body for raising its voice against the killings in the Philippines, the Duterte government shifts gears and is now lauding the council. It is duplicity at its worst," she said.

"The Duterte government is desperate to shore up its negative public image nationally and abroad. From its fake 50-100 diplomatic actions against China, now the Duterte government is pathetically twisting facts by issuing misleading statements. Pilit naghahabi ng kasinungalingan para pagtakpan ang kultura ng patayan sa ating bayan," Hontiveros concluded.

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