MANILA: Critics of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday condemned the Philippines’ vote to reject a UN resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar.
The Philippines last week joined Burundi, China, Cuba and Venezuela in rejecting a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution extending the mandate of the special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar for one year.
According to a UN statement, the Philippines, in an explanation of its vote, said “it had been following developments of a complex inter-communal issue in northern Rakhine state, including the positive developments in Myanmar.”
Manila said it “did not support the international fact-finding mission as it rested on the wrong assumption that domestic investigative processes were not independent and credible.”
But it expressed support for the provision of humanitarian assistance, and urged the international community to further assist Myanmar and its neighbor Bangladesh.
Akbayan representative Tom Villarin, a member of the lower house of Congress, said Manila has a myopic view of the Rohingya crisis, which is regional and so demands a regional response.
“It’s clear that domestic investigative processes have been found wanting to merit an independent fact-finding mission,” he told Arab News.
“As chair of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), it (the Philippines) defaulted its role by clinging on to an outdated and irrelevant non-interference policy,” he said.
“It’s a reverse pat on the back as the Philippines under Duterte is also facing international scrutiny over its human rights record due to summary killings in its war against illegal drugs,” Villarin added.
“It was a vote of self-preservation together with other nations that have strongman rule, like Burundi, China, Cuba and Venezuela.”
Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN), said the reason given by Manila in rejecting the resolution “indicates its disjointed, distorted and bankrupt view on the real situation of the Rohingya people and the extent of rights abuses by Myanmar’s state forces, including the dire lack of venues of redress of victims at the domestic level.”
She added: “The international fact-finding mission was conducted precisely based on the said premise, and to deny knowledge of the accountability of the callous domestic mechanisms is turning a blind eye to the responsibility of the Myanmar government.”
Dr. Rikard Jalkebro of the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland said the Philippines rejected a similar resolution in November last year.
He said it is not surprising given Manila’s stand on the UN investigation of the human rights situation in the Philippines, which led the government to withdraw recently from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“This is an ongoing issue with human rights in terms of the domestic situation,” he added, describing Manila’s vote as “a silent protest… in saying fact-finding missions aren’t necessarily that helpful.”
But “it’s sad that they’re doing it in terms of another country where the situation is extremely problematic and dire for the population.”