July 2023 | “War on drugs” continues
More than 300 drug-related killings have occurred since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took office last year, according to figures compiled by the University of Philippines program Dahas. Human rights experts note that there has been little progress since in the country's internal investigation into the drug-related killings. As a result, the International Criminal Court (ICC) moved to disregard the Philippines' objections on 18 July, clearing the way for an imminent probe. The government has said it will not cooperate with the ICC investigation, stating that it is not within the court’s jurisdiction. At the same time, the persecution of journalists and former critics of the war on drugs continues to be prolonged. Notably, Leila de Lima, a former senator known for her critical stance against the war on drugs, remains in police custody after being denied bail earlier in June.
May 2023 | Former opposition senator Leila de Lima partially acquitted
Former Senator Leila de Lima was acquitted in the second of three drugs cases against her in a case widely held to be politically motivated. De Lima, a vocal critic of ex-president Duterte’s “war on drugs”, has been in detention for more than six years. While the acquittal offers hope for her release and signifies a “long-overdue step towards justice,” human rights groups note that the government should launch an inquiry and implement reforms to prevent such politicization of the justice system.
January 2023 | A win for press freedom and rule of law
A Philippine tax court on 18 January acquitted Nobel Laureate and high-profile journalist Maria Ressa of four tax evasion charges, marking the end of a case that began in 2018 and which was widely believed to be politically motivated. A UN expert on freedom of expression said the acquittal signals a "victory for media freedom as well as justice." Ressa and Rappler still face three other charges, including one for cyber libel, which top UN officials and human rights advocates have urged authorities to drop.
November 2022 | Anti-discrimination law passed for women workers
The Philippines Congress passed a law on 29 November that aims to strengthen anti-discrimination provisions under the Labour Code to safeguard women employees. The law strengthens existing provisions with jail terms and hefty fines for violators, stating that it is unlawful for any employer to favour a male employee over a female employee in terms of employment benefits. The law also prevents the discharge of women on account of pregnancy. Ultimately, the measure establishes greater responsibility and accountability for private employment agencies.