GENEVA, Switzerland – A Philippine envoy here said with the Philippine government’s PHP200-billion emergency subsidy program is considered as the most comprehensive in Philippine history that will support 18 million low-income households as a measure to contain the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
This, according to Ambassador Evan P. Garcia, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, during a Human Rights Council meeting with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on April 9.
The virtual meeting was convened through Zoom via live UN webcast to discuss measures at the national, regional and global levels to manage the impact of the Covid19 pandemic especially on vulnerable sectors of the society.
The measures include a PHP27-billion economic package for affected workers and establishments, farmers and fisherfolks and micro, small, and medium enterprises, among others.
The Philippines’ support for the High Commissioner’s efforts to call for stronger international cooperation during and after the pandemic, drawing attention to the disproportionate toll of the crisis on vulnerable sectors and developing countries, Garcia said.
Bachelet said the impact of the pandemic on developing countries could be greater, “as a large portion of the population rely on daily income to survive” and these economies “have less capacity to absorb and mitigate the economic and social impact of the epidemic” and are most vulnerable to the resulting global recession.
Support for vulnerable sectors
The comprehensive national Covid-19 response of the Philippines continues to place due to priority to supporting the vulnerable sectors of the population and managing the social and economic impact of the pandemic. He also shared that the Philippines has positively considered modestly contributing within its means to global emergency appeals for COVID-19 response.
Garcia underlined the need for attention and decisive global response to address the vulnerabilities of migrants and refugees in this situation, pointing out that “this global cross-cutting emergency has sharpened the demand for greater inclusivity and synergy in multilateral action, serving as a test of how recent global agreements on migration and refugees work on the ground.”
Truce with terrorist groups
He also informed the Council that President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared on March 18 a unilateral ceasefire against the terrorist group Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) even before the UN Secretary-General called for a global ceasefire on March 23.
He added that it was regrettable that the CPP-NPA-NDF had violated and exploited the ceasefire with their killings of indigenous peoples, attacks against government front liners, and political agitation and exploitation of vulnerable groups.
In line with the concerns and priorities discussed by Bachelet and the vast majority of States, Garcia underscored the imperative of ensuring that actions are geared toward strengthening the Human Rights Council “as a platform for effecting real-world transformations through information sharing and open dialogue, constructive cooperation, technical cooperation, and capacity-building.”
In an earlier statement on March 6, Bachelet called on States to place human rights front and center of Covid-19 response and to share information on efforts to mitigate socio-economic impacts.
The Philippine government, through a letter on March 17, shared practices and measures taken to halt the spread of the pandemic and to alleviate the negative socio-economic effects on the Filipinos.
It also highlighted that the national Covid-19 response and measures are fully compliant with international human rights laws and standards as well as national laws, further underscoring that such measures correspond to the state of the Philippine health system and pandemic preparedness and response capacities and pay attention to mitigating the disease’s disproportionate impact to the vulnerable sectors.
The government cited its compliance with the reportorial requirements of the International Health Regulations and its consistent exercise of transparency in the management of Covid-19. (DFA PR)