Filipino reelected to UN Human Rights Council advisory panel
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Filipino reelected to UN Human Rights Council advisory panel

The United Nations Human Rights Council has reelected a Filipino, Purificacion V. Quisumbing, to a second three-year term in the council’s Advisory Committee.

Quisumbing was reelected unanimously, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, during the council’s 16th session.

Quisumbing currently chairs the same Advisory Committee, which the DFA in Manila describes as “a subsidiary body of the HRC composed of 18 independent experts” that provides the council advice on relevant issues.

Quisumbing has, at best, a mixed record herself as a “human rights expert” in the Philippines. She was the chairperson of the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) when extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances reached their peak under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She occupied the CHR top post from 2002-2008.

Most victims of human rights violations under the Arroyo administration while Quisumbing was CHR chair would skip the CHR because of the widespread view that the constitutional body was, at the very least, disinterested in their plight, or, worse, blindly side with state security forces.

The domestic and international uproar over the Arroyo administration’s bloody human rights record compelled a fact-finding mission by then-UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston whose report held the administration and state security forces liable for the culture of impunity arising from a counterinsurgency program that did not differentiate between armed and unarmed opponents of government.

President Arroyo would later appoint her daughter, former journalist Cecilia Rachel Quisumbing, as a commissioner to the CHR.

The Philippines was among the founding members of the HRC in 2006 and served as the body’s vice president representing the Asian Group of states in 2008-2009.

But it was during the Philippines’ leadership term in the council when the country underwent a “universal periodic review” of its human rights record with Philippine and international organizations taking turns in calling on member-states of the UN Human Rights Council to hold the Arroyo administration accountable.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and leading Philippine human rights alliance Karapatan submitted separate reports to the HRC as powerful counterpoints to the questionable national report submitted by the Arroyo administration.