The Palace on Friday dismissed the warnings of two United Nations special rapporteurs of human rights abuses on indigenous peoples because of continued martial law rule in Mindanao, claiming their observations were heavily partisan.
“Both of them, who are Filipinos, should be more circumspect on their statements. They were elected to their present posts at the behest of the former administration. Their observations, which are made public, appear to be very partisan,” Roque said, referring to the administration of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and special rapporteur on internally displaced people Cecilia Jimenez-Damary have reported that thousands of lumad were forcibly displaced by conflict in Mindanao, and were suffering massive abuses of human rights.
“As Filipinos, they should have brought these cases to the police and the prosecutors so that proper information will be filed in court. The fact that they made these [findings]public shows that they intend to embarrass the Philippine government in the international community,” Roque, a former human rights lawyer, said.
Based on their profile on the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the two Filipino special rapporteurs are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council—the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system. It conducts independent fact-finding and monitoring all over the world.
The UN website states that the Special Procedures’ experts work as volunteers, and therefore “they are not UN staff, do not receive a salary for their work and are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.”
The special rapporteurs said they were particularly concerned over the safety of lumad threatened by bombings and military attacks in light of the 2,500 people displaced since October and the farmers allegedly killed by military forces last December 3 in Barangay Ned, South Cotabato.
They called on the Philippine government to “ensure that all human rights abuses are halted and that there is justice and accountability for past attacks.”