Thank you, Mister Vice-President.  

The Philippines has always welcomed discussions on the issue of enforced or involuntary disappearances (EID). We have strong domestic policies and mechanisms to address such cases.

Our landmark Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Law of 2012 is considered as the first of its kind in Asia. It provides preventive mechanisms, remedial measures, and protection of victims and their families through restitution, compensation and rehabilitation, reflecting and expanding salient provisions of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED).

An Inter-Agency Committee known as AO 35 addresses EID cases, including those classified as grave violations of the right to life and liberty involving personalities with cause-oriented advocacies.

In 2016, President Duterte, as his first Executive Order, created a presidential task force to address security concerns of media practitioners, to include possible cases of EID.

These domestic mechanisms involve close cooperation between the Commission on Human Rights, law enforcement and prosecution, the victims, their families and civil society organizations. Updates and progress on efforts undertaken by the government through these mechanisms are part of our regular briefing on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

We welcome the Working Group’s decision, stated in its report, that it would document cases concerning EID allegedly perpetrated by non-State actors in light of its humanitarian mandate.

On the report of the SR, we appreciate the acknowledgment of our policies and efforts on ensuring reparation for victims. A reference to the Philippines alluded to claims being denied as only sworn statements by two persons with personal knowledge of the violation are acceptable to establish a claim. We wish to state that this is not the case. Many claims had been denied for reasons other than failure to meet the required standard of proof. Among others, they did not fall under the definition of a human rights violation either under the national or international law; were found to be “patently without merit”, not committed by a person in his/her official capacity or were personal altercations, among others.

We stress that what the law prescribes is substantial evidence, to ensure that only legitimate claims are compensated. Many kinds of evidence may be submitted and many claims were established by presenting secondary sources of information such as news clippings, medico-legal and other records as provided under the Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Act (RA10368) and its implementing rules.

The Philippines is fully cognizant of its human rights obligations and wishes to reassure the Working Group and the Special Rapporteur that the government is unwavering in its commitment to ensure that the rights of the victims and their families are fully upheld and protected.

Thank you, Mr. Vice-President. END.