RP Election to UN Human Rights Council

Article excerpt

Byline: Hern. P. Zenarosa

FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo's report on the election of the Philippines as member of the United Nations Human Rights Council has no doubt reinforced the country's standing over the importuning of certain opposition members to discredit it in the world body.

I remember it was only recently that an opposition member of the Senate shocked her colleagues when she went personally to the UN headquarters in Geneva to denounce the Philippine government for alleged human rights violations.

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The senators, including her team members in the opposition, disowned any Senate authority to make such uncalled for complaint abroad against the Philippine government.

In New York itself, many Filipino expatriates staged demonstrations in a campaign to block the Philippines' membership in the Council because of alleged human rights violations being committed by the Gloria Arroyo government.

The fact that the UN Assembly elected the Philippines anew, landing No. 4 for the 14 vacant seats in the Human Rights Council, shows the flagrant repudiation of the complaints.

It may be noted that the resolution establishing the Council sets the parameters, thus: "That members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights" and will be subject to periodic review.

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It says that each member country must be approved individually and directly by the majority (96 of 191) of the members of the UN General Assembly "in a secret ballot."

The resolution also limits membership to two consecutive terms of office and members may be suspended by a two-third vote of the UN body.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. who succeeds Ambassador Lauro Baja Jr. as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, said in a report to Secretary Romulo the other day the Philippines obtained 179 votes, an increase of 43 more votes than last year's elections. …