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Adopted: Urgency on the human rights situation in the Philippines - and it created quite some reactions in the country

The urgency resolution on the Philippines was adopted by 626 votes in favour, 7 against and 52 abstentions - a broad majority across all political parties.

The human rights situation in the Philippines gets worse by the second. When I spoke to the renown Philippine journalist Maria Ressa in spring, she asked me to shed light on what is happening in the country: President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs" has cost tens of thousands of lives. At the same time, the government continues attacking news organizations: Ressa herself has lost a made-up case against her in court, and she and a number of employees of her news outlet "Rappler" are facing other court cases based on equally arbitrary charges.

Despite this worrying situation, the Philippines continue to benefit from trade privileges for exports to the EU, based on the so-called Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+). These trade privileges are meant to be linked to the advancement of human rights in a country.
For me it is clear: A country where human rights are trampled upon cannot continue benefitting from these privileges!

In adopting the urgency, the European Parliament has followed my assessment. The resolution

  • asks the European Commission to withdraw the GSP+ privileges
  • strongly condemns the actions of President Duterte under the guise of leading a so-called "war on drugs" and
  • demands that all politically motivated charges against Maria Ressa and other journalists be dropped.

Click here for the text of the urgency resolution

Consequences

The reactions to my speech and the successful urgency came promptly.  

First my Facebook page was flooded: with comments telling me about my "ignorance", with demands to leave the Philippines "alone", and of course with insults and abuse. This is probably only a small part of what Maria Ressa has to endure every day - and it clearly shows how bad the situation really is. 

In addition, I could now be declared "persona non grata" by the Philippine government. According to Foreign Minister Teodoro Loscin, this is "a political decision" which he will discuss with President Duterte. 

However, this is not just my urgency. It is a text adopted by an overwhelming majority ofmembers of the European Parliament.

But whatever may happen: I will continue speaking up for human rights - in the Philippines and elsewhere.

The EP Press release on the urgency

Human rights breaches in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique and the Philippines
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