Dominican Fathers, Alipao of SIMBAHAYAN represent DFJPCC-Philippines in Switzerland

Three members of the Dominican Family for Justice, Peace and Care for Creation-Philippines, namely, Rev. Fr. Victor C. Calvo, O.P. (Philippine Dominican Province Promoter on Justice, Peace, and Care for Creation), Rev. Fr. Reynor Enriquez Munsayac, O.P. (Colegio De San Juan De Letran-Abucay Vice Rector for Religious Affairs), and Asst. Prof. Froilan A. Alipao, (UST Simbahayan Community Development Office Director), attended the 52nd Geneva Course for Defenders from the Regions (Course on the Human Rights Council, international human rights and humanitarian law, international procedures and diplomacy) The three served Dominican Delegates at the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, from September 19, 2022, to October 5, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Their attendance at the two important events at the same time was a reality of the great efforts of the Dominicans for Justice and Peace led by Rev. Fr. Aneidi Okure, O.P., as Director and Permanent Delegate of the Order of Preachers to the United Nations.  The Dominicans for Justice and Peace is the official Delegation of the Order of Preachers to the United Nations, and it has had an Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Consultative status since 2002.

The training was facilitated by Geneva for Human Rights (GHR), an international training organization.  It trains human rights NGOs, defenders, and those promoting human rights in elaborating and realizing strategies and using domestic, regional, and international human rights procedures.  The Geneva Course is an interactive and intensive training during ordinary UN Human Rights Council sessions.

Along with the three participants and delegates are the other 18 participants from different parts of the world.  The participants learned the knowledge and skills according to the following courses and related subjects included in the training. A General Course (19-23 September 2022)  was offered where an overview of international relations; international human rights, humanitarian and criminal laws; the UN mechanisms and procedures; the Human Rights Council; the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and the use of the Special procedures, treaty bodies, and Universal Periodic Review (UPR) were presented.  Trainees learned drafting communications in accordance with special procedures.

Next was a course on the HR Council’s proceedings (26-30 September 2022). This course introduced the main OHCHR, and Special procedures reports were submitted to the 51st session.  Specific Courses on transitional justice, women’s and indigenous peoples’ rights, enforced disappearances, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the protection of human rights defenders.

The last course (3-5 October 2022) was  devoted to the conclusions and follow-up of the Geneva Course, with GHR Course on human rights implementation in the countries (SDGs, national plans, technical assistance, and NGOs’ strategies inside the nations).

The participants of the said training were selected based on the priority given to defenders and NGOs from the regions and as members of national and regional NGOs delegations attending the session of the UN Human Rights Council, and trainees from regional and international human rights organizations having their seat or representation at the UN Office in Geneva.

The three DFJPCC-Philippines participants and delegates were able to accomplish the course.  To highlight, they completed the documents on the country’s human rights pattern and a letter to the special rapporteur.  They also submitted and successfully passed several tests given to all the training participants.  

The side of being Dominican delegates to the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the three regularly seated and observed different debates and side events on special issues.  The highlight of their participation was their crucial role in the debate on the Philippine human rights situation about the UN Joint Program Report. 

Alipao delivered a one-minute-and-a-half statement of the Dominicans for Justice and Peace during the debate last October 6, 2022, in Geneva. 

 The statement read:    

“We welcome the High Commissioner’s report on the progress and results of the UN Joint Program in the Philippines.  It accurately assesses the persistence of impunity for human rights abuses, including the lack of access to justice by victims of extrajudicial killings and their families.  Despite the implementation of the UN Joint Program and the inauguration of a new Government in 2022, we remain strongly concerned with the shrinking space of civil society and the persisting culture of impunity.  Violence, intimidation, and arrests of ‘red-tagged’ human rights defenders continue.

“The new administration reinforced the disengagement of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court and announced the continuation of the War on Drugs.  The Government consistently fails to cooperate with the UN Joint Program adequately and to investigate, prosecute and enforce comprehensive mechanisms to address the systematic and mass human rights violations.

“Now, more than ever, the international community’s support is crucial to tackling the lack of domestic accountability and preventing future human rights violations.  Therefore, we call on the Human Rights Council to keep the situation of the Philippines as a priority, with the adoption of a follow-up resolution establishing a Commission of Inquiry for the Philippines.”

Alipao also attended and presented a three-minute statement during the CCPR (Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) NGO formal briefing on the Philippines, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, and Japan, which took place on October 10, 2022 via Zoom.

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