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‘Respect for human rights begins at home,’ bishop tells gov’t


The Philippines must lead by example in the field of human rights, a ranking Catholic official said after the country won a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said the Philippines must stand up for human rights and “set a good example to the world”.

“I hope that our representation in the UN Human Rights Council is a positive thing and that means we have to start right at home,” said David, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

A vocal critic of the government’s bloody war against drugs, he, however, lamented the human rights record of the Duterte administration.

The bishop said he is saddened that the word “human rights” is seemingly “not so appreciated” under the present government.

“Human rights and human life cannot be separated from each other. The most basic human right is the right to life and you’ll expect the church to be at the forefront of the advocacy for the protection of human rights,” he added.

Several international human rights organizations have earlier campaigned for other countries to oppose the Philippines’ candidacy for the UNHRC.

Among them was the New York-based Human Rights Watch which cited the Duterte government’s “egregious human rights records”.

With the reelection, the Philippines will again serve the 47-member Council based in Geneva for the 2019 to 2021 term.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said it’s “ironic” yet he urged the government to take the necessary steps to raise its human rights standards.

“Now we have to prove ourselves that we value lives more than any material thing; we don’t sacrifice people over profit nor personal interest,” he said.

For his part, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that the country’s election to another term in the UNHRC “can serve the cause of human rights advocates”.

“We can demand more respect for human rights from our government since we are part of the HR Council,” Pabillo said.



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