One year ago a solidarity mission went to the Philippines to gain a better understanding of the worsening human rights situation in the country. “Extra judicial killings” of thousands of supposed drug addicts has created a climate of terror and intimidation. Since then the Duterte administration’s human rights violations have escalated, with close to 30,000 deaths over a two-year span of his murderous campaign against illegal drugs. It is of public record that he continues to exhort the police to intensify the campaign without regard for due and fair process.
Duterte continues to threaten, vilify and jail the political opposition with the recent arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Senator de Lima was sent to jail on the ludicrous charges of drug trafficking based on testimonies by convicted felons who were jailed by de Lima when she was then a Justice Secretary. More opposition members of Parliament are under threat of arrest including SOLIDAR friend and Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros who faces a pending case of kidnapping filed by Duterte’s Justice Secretary. Attacks on human rights advocates and defenders including UN Special Rapporteurs and even the UN Human Rights Commissioner have become commonplace.
Duterte does not restrict his madness to the national stage. He withdrew the Philippines from the International Criminal Court in March 2018 when cases were filed against him and 20 other top officials (police generals and Cabinet secretaries) in the court. It shows their horror at the prospect of being held accountable and their contempt for international laws and institutions. These are the facts, and most of the companies that benefit from the GSP++ trade preferential system are presumably Duterte supporters and financiers. They directly benefit from the GSP++, even if they continue to support and abet Duterte’s human rights violations.
GSP++ is a preferential treatment and should only be accorded to those countries who respect human rights, if the EU wants its policy to remain credible and values-based. Changing the statutes would have an important political impact and as we have seen in the past can even led to regime change. So why be shy. Why not follow deeds with words?