EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore welcomed the willingness of the Philippine Government to engage with the European Union and the international community but emphasized that the Philippines should ensure accountability, in particularly of those accountable for the extrajudicial killings that happened during the war on drugs.
Mr Gilmore was in the Philippines for the first time as the EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights. While in the country, he met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Chief of the PNP Human Rights Office Gen Vincent Calanoga, Philippine Representative to the AICHR Aileen Mendiola-Rau, UN agencies, CSOs and business representatives.
The EU Special Representative also met with Senator Leila de Lima in Camp Crame and had a dialogue with victims of extra-judicial killings during his visit to an EU-supported project called “Paghilom Programme of Father Flaviano Villanueva”.
Mr Gilmore said that he noted the Government’s openness to engage with the EU as reflected on various occasions such as during the 2nd Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human rights, the visit by Philippine Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to the European Parliament and the visit of
European Parliamentarians of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights to the country.
However, Mr Gilmore noted the slow progress of prosecution and conviction of people responsible for the victims of extra-judicial killings.
“Three convictions out of more than 6,000 cases is not enough”, he said, as he called for “more accountability to bring justice to the victims of the drug wars”.
It is crucial to ensure that the perpetrators of EJKs are brought to justice in full observance of due process and the rule of law, he added.
The EU Special Representative also called for the immediate release of Senator Leila de Lima. “I do not understand why somebody like her who has not been convicted of anything has spent six years in prison. She should be released without further delay”.
In his meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Manalo, the EU Special Representative expressed his gratitude for the Philippines’ consistent support for all UNGA resolutions related to Russian aggression against Ukraine.
On the GSP+, he explained that the European Council and the European Parliament will be involved in the decision on the renewal of GSP+ indicating the importance of continuing bilateral dialogue and the need to meet each other.
The EU’s GSP+ gives developing countries such as the Philippines a special incentive to pursue sustainable development and good governance. Countries eligible to benefit from this have to implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights, the environment and good governance.
Mr Gilmore explained that any agreement entered between the EU and other countries would always have considerations on the performance of the other party in human rights.
“Doing business with the EU means addressing human rights issues”, he said.
Read related story:
While the Philippines has made progress in a number of areas covered by the GSP conventions including on environment, governance and social development agenda, Mr Gilmore said that more needs to be done to ensure effective implementation in particular of all human rights conventions.
He said that the immediate priority of the EU in this regard remains ensuring the continued access of the Philippines to the GSP+ but this means proper implementation of the relevant conventions.