Malacañang yesterday called on Congress and the judiciary to work together with the executive branch in dealing with human rights violations in the country that the US State Department has described as serious.
In its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014, the State Department said the Philippine government investigated and prosecuted only a limited number of reported human rights abuses and concerns about impunity persisted.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said she read the report and it actually “encompasses a wide range of topics,” including spousal rape, sexual harassment, persons with disabilities, among others.
“I was looking at the report…and there are points of concern that the report raises and we are asking all the agencies that are concerned – the executive, of course, it is easy because every year we really look into those kinds of observations – but even our co-workers and colleagues in the judiciary, as well as those in Congress, to take a look at the report…for us to be able to work together to address the points of concern that have been raised,” Valte said.
“There are observations and suggestions that are solved by either passing the necessary legislation, amending existing legislations or also addressing the judicial process,” she said.
Valte said the report cited, for instance, that there was much to be desired with regard to successful prosecutions. She noted the numbers must improve and the other branches of government should come together and work on those points of concern.
She noted they were committed to making the situation better because based on the report, “there is a big chunk of it that is dedicated to the abuse of human rights because of conflict situations.”
The report said extrajudicial killings by security forces and vigilante groups, an overburdened criminal justice system, a meager record of prosecutions and widespread official corruption and abuse of power are the most significant human rights problems in the Philippines.
At the same time terrorist organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah and the communist New People’s Army (NPA), as well as elements associated with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, including the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, continued to kill security forces, local government officials and other civilians, the report said.