Key Points

An examination of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines over the three cycles (2008, 2012 and 2017) reveals:

  • Far less concern for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) challenges than other major challenges including extrajudicial killings, President Duterte’s war on drugs, allegations of torture and other rights violations under anti-terrorism legislation, disingenuously named “Human Security Act”;

  • The Government guarantees FoRB in its constitution and this issue has featured very sparingly in its reports to the UPR; and

  • Concerns for the FoRB of Indigenous peoples to practice their traditions and religious-based discrimination towards Muslim women and girls.

Key UPR Recommendations on FoRB

The following recommendation was made on FoRB across the three cycles:

  • The Government must take measures to ensure that economic activity does not affect indigenous peoples’ rights, which includes their spiritual beliefs, and expressed concern.

Follow-up Action for Parliamentarians

Whereas the Government of The Philippines has not faced criticism under the UPR on FoRB matters, Parliamentarians must nevertheless follow-up in order to:

  • Ensure that the universally recognised rights of indigenous peoples are respected;

  • Secure revision of laws regulating mining activities in order to ensure respect for the FoRB of indigenous peoples;

  • Ensure that discrimination on the basis of religion be monitored, investigated and remedied;

  • Ensure that provisions on FoRB for the Muslim communities in autonomous regions are respected; and

  • Ensure that incidents, reported outside of the UPR, of public statements – via the internet and social media – denigrating the beliefs or practices of particular religious groups, particularly Muslims, or non-believers be properly investigated.

Source: Country Briefing on Freedom of Religion or Belief produced by Asia Centre and IPPFoRB

Mohammad Mujeeb