UN maintains pressure on Philippine human rights, ICHRP calls for independent investigation

October 7, 2021 – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Michelle Bachelet, presented her oral report on the Philippines to the UNHRC today, one year after the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution to provide “technical cooperation and capacity-building” to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for the protection of human rights.

Ms Bachelet noted the progress of the UN Joint Program for technical assistance and capacity-building on human rights, adopted only on July 22 this year. She also noted the ongoing lack of accountability for the killings and rights violations in the counterinsurgency program; continuing harassment, threats and killings of human rights defenders, church workers, environmental and land rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, farmers and lawyers. She singled out the killing of 9 indigenous Tumandok leaders on Panay on December 30, 2020, and the killing of 9 community leaders during the Bloody Sunday operation on March 7, 2021. She maintained her criticism of the government’s red-tagging against activists, media and other actors, and called for an end to the hate language during the unfolding national election campaign. 

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) fully endorses High Commissioner Bachelet’s comment that the decision of the International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation in the Philippines is a significant indication of the inadequate, if not non-existent, domestic remedies in the country. 

The formal response of the Philippine Delegate demonstrated that the Duterte government continues to reject any criticism of its human rights record, doubling down on its use of red-tagging to terrorise any critics by alleging without evidence that they recruit fighters for the New People’s Army.

The Duterte government continues to use the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), created at the end of 2018, as the government framework to repress civilian dissent.  Human rights violations will continue unless the NTF-ELCAC is declared unconstitutional and dissolved. ICHRP Chairperson Peter Murphy calls  “The Duterte government’s claims to uphold human rights and respect the UN Human Rights Council shamelessly hypocritical”.

High Commissioner Bachelet detailed some of the many human rights violations which have taken place since last October. INVESTIGATE PH, an independent international civil society initiative, reported extensive violations of economic, social, and cultural rights of the Filipino people, as well as violations of the rights to development, self-determination, and peace. The Duterte administration’s war on dissent is now using mechanisms and tactics which were previously used in the notorious war on poor people to target alleged drug users (such as tokhang-style killings by police) to maintain its state terror to control the people. 

High Commissioner Bachelet’s report clearly demonstrated the lack of domestic mechanisms in the Philippines to end such human rights violations. In the wake of the worsening human rights situation, ICHRP reiterates the recommendations of INVESTIGATE PH, including the authorization of an international independent investigation of human rights violations in the Philippines. ICHRP also calls on the UNHRC to maintain its efforts to hold the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and its officials accountable for the thousands of violations of human rights carried out as official state policies.###

For comment: Peter Murphy, Chairperson, ICHRP Global Council +61 418 312 301 chairperson@ichrp.net 

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is a global network of organizations, concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines and committed to campaign for just and lasting peace in the country.

Immediate Response Required

On March 17, 2020, the Methodist Church lost one of its leading ecumenists, Geoffrey Wainwright. For almost three decades, Wainwright formed Christian ministers and theologians at Duke Divinity School for the church universal. In the best of Methodist tradition, Wainwright loved scripture and singing. He exhorted his students to “guard the good treasure” entrusted to us in Scripture and the sound doctrine of the church, “with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us” (2 Tim. 1:13-14). Indeed, he inscribed these verses on the books that he autographed for his students. Wainwright believed that good hymnody helped form sound doctrine. Hence, he frequently invited his students to sing hymns during lecture, especially those by Charles Wesley. Because Wainwright was Methodist, he was ecumenical. He introduced himself to his students as an evangelical, orthodox, catholic theologian, all lowercase letters. His profound doxological vision, linguistic skills and passion for Christian unity helped him become a world-renowned ecumenist. 

Geoffrey Wainwright was born in Yorkshire, England, the only child of Willie and Martha Ann Wainwright. At the University of Cambridge he studied Modern Languages and then Theology. He received a theological doctorate from the University of Geneva in 1972, and his Cambridge D.D. in 1987. He was ordained by the British Methodist Conference in 1967. For six years he served as a pastor and teacher at the Protestant Faculty of Theology in Yaoundé, Cameroon. On returning to Britain in 1973 he taught at The Queen’s College (joint Anglican Methodist) in Birmingham. In 1979 he moved with his wife and three children to the United States where he taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York before moving to Durham in 1983 where he became Professor of Systematic Theology at Duke Divinity School until his retirement in 2012. He was a member (1976-1991) in the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. He was a principal editor of the text “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” drawn up by the Commission at Lima, Peru in 1982. Between 1986 and 2011 he served as chair on the Methodist side of the Joint Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church. Among his books the most influential remain his systematic theology, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine and Life (OUP 1980), and The Oxford History of Christian Worship, co-edited by Karen Westerfield Tucker.

In 1965 he married Margaret Wiles, who survives him as do his children, Joanna Paulman (Lance), Catherine Aravosis, Dominic Wainwright (Jeannie) and his grandchildren, Wesley Paulman, Matthaios and Sofia Eleni Aravosis.

Donations in his memory may be sent to Duke Divinity School (in honor of Geoffrey Wainwright), Box 90968, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708 and will be used to provide financial aid support for students. You may also give online at https://www.gifts.duke.edu/divinity.

[Excerpts from Duke Divinity Viewpoints March 19, 2020 by Edgardo Colón-Emeric, and Pray Tell: Worship, Wit & Wisdom blog – May 1, 2020]

To attend or watch the service online:

It you wish to attend, please CLICK HERE to RSVP for the Service of Death and Resurrection for Geoffrey Wainwright.

To view online the Service of Death and Resurrection for Dr. Geoffrey Wainwright taking place Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 2pm EST in Goodson Chapel here at the Divinity School. Also included below is the announcement and invitation for the service.                         https://youtu.be/lhPAxMxFC2M