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EU Parliament pushes to revoke PH zero-tariff perks due to ‘deteriorating’ human rights situation

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on September 14, 2020. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The European Union Parliament is pushing to revoke the country’s export tariff exemption due to the “deteriorating” state of human rights and press freedom situation under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday, the European Union’s legislative assembly said that “given the seriousness of the human rights violations in the country, calls on the European Commission, in the absence of any substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities, to immediately initiate the procedure which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ preferences.”

The said resolution mentioned the “deteriorating level of press freedom” in the Philippines, citing the libel cases of Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa and its former research-writer as well as the shutdown of broadcasting media ABS-CBN.

“[The parliament] condemns all threats, harassment, intimidation, unfair prosecutions, and violence against journalists, including the case of Maria Ressa; calls for all politically motivated charges against her and her colleagues to be dropped,” reads the resolution, which received 626 votes in favor, seven against, and 52 abstentions.

“[The parliament] recalls that press freedom and freedom of expression are fundamental components of democracy; calls on the Philippine authorities to renew the broadcast license of the main audio-visual group, ABS-CBN,” it added.

The EU lawmakers also criticized the alarming extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations committed in the Duterte government’s war on drugs.

The “impartial, transparent, independent and meaningful investigations into all extrajudicial killings, including the deaths of Jory Porquia, Randall ‘Randy’ Echanis and Zara Alvarez.”

Porquia, Echanis, and Alvarez were all activists killed by still unidentified assailants this year.

Moreover, the group also appealed to the Philippine government to “drop all politically motivated charges against Senator Leila de Lima, to release her while she awaits trial, to allow her to freely exercise her rights and duties as an elected representative, and to provide her with adequate security and sanitary conditions while in detention.”

They also expressed concerns on the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act, noting that “in no circumstance can advocacy, protest, dissent, strikes and other similar exercises of civil and political rights be considered terrorist acts.”

The EU Parliament also condemned all forms of violence against women, children, and LGBTQI people, increasing levels of corruption in the Philippine government, and the ongoing procedures to reinstate the death penalty.

“[The parliament] condemns all threats, harassment, intimidation, rape and violence against those who seek to expose allegations of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the country [and] denounces the misuse of the law and judiciary systems as a means of silencing critical voices,” the resolution reads.


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