Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights examines report of the Philippines

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Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has considered the combined second to fourth periodic reports of the Philippines on how that country implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Erlinda F. Basilio, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in her opening statement, said that the Philippines was a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and multi-faith country. The great majority of the population belonged to indigenous groups. Attaining the goal of social progress and better standards of life posed serious challenges for a developing country like the Philippines. Despite this many achievements had been realized. Development efforts faced major challenges in the Philippines, including natural disasters and calamities brought about by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, typhoons and other extreme conditions. Despite the challenges faced by the two active insurgencies - leftist rebels and Muslim separatists, the Government remained focused on its goal of providing a better standard of life for its people.

Among issues raised by the Committee Experts were questions regarding the National Commission on Human Rights; the implementation of the Covenant; integration policies for internally displaced persons; legalization of marriage for girls below the age of 18 and polygamy; anti-corruption strategies; the role economic, social and cultural development took in the 2004-2010 Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan; the Mineral Action Plan aimed at streamlining Government grants for mining projects, and the ratification of International Labour Organization Convention 169; Filipinos working abroad; social security for workers in the informal sector; bilateral agreements with countries where Filipinos worked; the rate of investment in the Philippines; and on the difficult conditions placed on the right to strike.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Basilio said the dialogue with the Committee was thorough and extremely fruitful. Areas that needed to be addressed were identified and it was clear that there was room for improvement. The Government was committed to fulfilling these aims and looked forward to the Committee's concluding observations which were to be used as a guide in the coming national consultations.

Philippe Texier, Chairman of the Committee, in conclusion said that the Philippines had shown a great interest in the implementation of the Covenant. This was illustrated through the very large delegation present and the presence of civil society, which was very well represented, and whose representatives voiced their views and provided additional information.

The delegation of the Philippines included representatives from the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Presidential Human Rights Committee, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Justice, the National Economic Development Authority, the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, the National Commission on Indigenous People, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Labour and Employment.

The concluding observations and recommendations of the Committee on the report of the Philippines will be issued towards the end of the session, which concludes on Friday, 21 November.

When the Committee meets at 3 p.m. this afternoon, it will begin its consideration of the combined initial to third periodic report of Angola (E/C.12/ANG/3).