09 Nov 2022
Venue: Palais des Nations | Room XXII & Online
Organization: Earthjustice, Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Amnesty International, International Movement for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Viva Salud, Ibon Foundation, Council for Health and Development, Coalition for People’s Right to Health, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Indigenous People’s Movement for Self Determination and Liberation
This information meeting on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in the Philippines was organized by the EarthJustice, Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch (PUPR Watch), Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Amnesty International, International Movement for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), Viva Salud, Ibon Foundation, Council for Health and Development (CHD), Coalition for People’s Right to Health (CPRH), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), and Indigenous People’s Movement for Self Determination and Liberation, with the support of the Geneva Environment Network.
About this Side Event
Various civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Philippines reported on the persisting assault on the economic, social and cultural rights in the Philippines. Despite recommendations during the 2017 Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines, environmental degradation, worsening poverty, and health crisis continued during the period under review.
During the period under review, policies implemented significantly reneged on the government’s responsibility for the environment, public health and other basic social services which resulted in starker inequities. Big foreign mining forcefully land-grabbed ancestral domains of indigenous peoples and communities of peasants. The Philippines had the longest and strictest COVID lockdown which severely affected the social and economic activities of the population. Unemployment and inflation remain unabated, making the majority of the population deeper into poverty.
Civil society organizations have yet to see policy shifts that will improve the ESCR in the country under the new administration.
This meeting on the UPR process in the Philippines highlighted the observations of CSOs on the economic condition, public health, and ecological injustice in the Philippines.
By order of intervention.
Executive Director, IBON Foundation
International Network Officer, Kalikasan PNE
Global Coordinator, International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation
Joshua SAN PEDRO
Co-convenor of the Coalition for People’s Right to Health
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
Campaigner, Philippines and Malaysia, Amnesty International | Moderator
Sonny AFRICA, Executive Director, IBON Foundation
Pushing for Economic Policy Shift for Peoples’ Welfare
- The response to COVID was the biggest economic contraction in the country’s history. Philippines had the biggest unemployment increase in Southeast Asia, the 2nd most COVID-19 death per capita, and 5th most COVID-19 cases per capita.
- Philippines is the 4th worst poverty in southeast Asia, with 15.5 million households declaring themselves hungry, 21.3 million households declared as poor or borderline poor.
- While the executive pays increased (3-50%) and the net worth of the 10 richest Filipinos increased by 19%. Philippines were reported as the largest increase in inequality by the World Bank (study taking into account approximately 100 countries).
Clemente BAUTISTA, International Network Officer, Kalikasan PNE
The Right to a Clean, Healthful, and Balanced Environment in the Philippines
- Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, as a lot of disasters happen in the Philippines.
- From 2017 to 2020, at least 15 million people were displaced because of disasters. In December 2021, a super typhoon affected 7.8 million Filipinos and made them move.
- In spite of this, the Philippine government has no sense of the danger that the country is facing. Sadly, they are allowing extracting operations that destroys the Philippines’ ecosystem and put at risks the indigenous peoples and peasant communities. This should even be acknowledged as a human rights violation.
- Philippines is the most dangerous place for environmental human rights defenders.
- The new government is also promoting the expansive use of natural gas.
- Despite the recommendations of the Philippines Council for Humans Rights to impose legislation on companies so that they pay respect to the environment and the human rights, the government is doing the contrary.
- The Philippine government is fighting the rise of sea level that will happen in the next years, by constructing bays that are causing marine ecological degradations.
- The neo-liberal policies of decreasing budget for public services, the valuation of the mining industry, and the privatization of our forests, are creating environmental damages.
- The UN Human Rights Council should push the actual government to respect environmental human rights.
Beverly LONGID, Global Coordinator, International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation
Extractives, Land and Culture in the Philippines
- Even though the government signed the treaty on the rights of indigenous peoples, they disregard the indigenous rights to land, and exploits and takes into possession every land for abusive cultures that are as dangerous for the environment and for the Filipino’s health.
- Military airstrikes and bombs cause the displacement of populations. As such, the soil is not ready to be used, and this territory will remain useless if the government does not start a procedure to solve these issues.
Joshua SAN PEDRO, Co-convenor of the Coalition for People’s Right to Health
Reclaiming the Right to Health as the “New Normal”
- The pandemic opened our eyes to different issues, health mental illness, suicide rate went up and we need to ensure we prevent this.
- The promotion of the use of dangerous chemicals product for agriculture are also extremely dangerous and caused deaths during the pandemic for the people leaving nearby the places where they were used.
- Health must not be reduced as a privilege. The lack of access to health services must be resolved to a point where it will be conformed to the human rights standards. We must protect and invest in our public services both on the local and on the national stage.
Renato REYES, Secretary-General, BAYAN
Workers Conditions in the Philippines
- Economical issues for workers: minimum wage is around 570 Php/day but the cost of living is estimated at 1,170 Php/day.
- In some poorer region, the wages can be even lower.
- The below poverty threshold is the equivalent of $7 a day for a family of 5. Even with such a low bar, 20 million Filipinos live in poverty.
David BOYD, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
- In light of the recent HRC resolution recognizing that everyone, everywhere has a right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a resolution which was supported in New York [at the UN General Assembly] by the government of the Philippines, it’s important for the Philippines to do a number of things to fulfill this right, to turn these inspiring words into realities for people living in the Philippines.
- That means no-more coal-fired power plants and no major mining operations without the free prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities. It means zero tolerance for harassment, intimidation and acts of violence against environment, land, and human rights defenders. It’s really shocking to learn that the Philippines, a beautiful biodiverse nation, is a global hotspot for the killing of environment and human rights defenders.
- It’s time to change. It’s time to introduce bills in the Philippines that will create a legal framework to protect environmental human rights defenders. It’s time for new legislation on mining, that would give communities a say in what happens. And it’s time for the Philippines to take action that is consistent with its climate change legislation. In closing, a huge thank you to all the brave and courageous people in the Philippines who are defending land, water and wildlife, as part of their efforts to fulfill the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.