Parliament must respond to human rights situation in the Philippines

The petition seeks to ensure that Canadian companies abroad are held accountable for their role in human rights violations and that the Canadian government is held accountable for its political and financial support to both Canadian companies in the Philippines and the Duterte government.


Ottawa (28 Oct. 2020) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is echoing the call on Parliament to take immediate action in response to the grave human rights situation in the Philippines.

NUPGE is helping to share a petition to the House of Commons that outlines a number of ways Canada can intervene.

Deteriorating human rights situation 

Under the Duterte government, there has been an increase in attacks on human rights defenders, activists, and journalists. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation, as the Duterte government used emergency measures to further erode human rights and democracy. 

In June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, released a report on the human rights situation in the Philippines. The report identified systematic human rights violations tied to laws and policies pertaining to national security and public order.

The Council of Global Unions, which represents 200 million workers, has spoken out against the attacks on democratic institutions and the suppression of workers’ rights in the Philippines.

In Canada, NUPGE and allied organizations have also been sounding the alarm on the human rights violations and political repression in the Philippines, and urging the Canadian government to act

Petition underlines Canada’s role

Canadian companies and the Canadian government must not be complicit.
For example, the Canadian company OceanaGold operates a mine in Didipio, Philippines. The people of Didipio opposed the company’s renewal of its mining permit, which expired in June 2019. In April 2020, the Philippine National Police violently dispersed community residents, primarily Indigenous peoples, who were maintaining a peaceful barricade that was authorized by the municipal and provincial governments. 

In response to the human rights situation, the Canada Chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and MiningWatch Canada have initiated the petition to the House of Commons. The petition seeks to ensure that Canadian companies abroad are held accountable for their role in human rights violations and that the Canadian government is held accountable for its political and financial support to both Canadian companies in the Philippines and the Duterte government.

A roadmap for action

The petition outlines concrete ways that the Canadian government can act.

The signatories call upon the House of Commons to:

  1. Strengthen rules for Canadian businesses operating overseas and uphold human rights;
  2. Make the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise independent and empowered to compel evidence and witness testimony under oath;
  3. Enact a human rights due diligence law that compels businesses to respect international human rights;
  4. Hold hearings on the human rights situation in the Philippines in the parliamentary human rights committee during the current session of Parliament;
  5. End Canadian support to the Government of the Philippines, including socio-economic and financial programming, tactical, logistical and training support, military sales and defence cooperation; and
  6. Mandate Canadian consular personnel to protect human rights defenders.

Signing the petition

The House of Commons has a responsibility to act.

Canadians can add their voices to the petition on the House of Commons webpage. It is open for signatures until December 30, 2020.


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE