Phl does it again, misses UN vote against Syria

FOR the third time, the Philippines refused to vote on a United Nations resolution against Syria.

On June 29, the Philippines was the only country of the 47-member UN Human Rights Council that did not vote on a resolution condemning Syria in the Houla massacre leaving 108 people dead, including 49 children, prompting the Geneva-based Human Rights Watch to remark that “apparently the Philippine delegation had better things to do during the crucial Human Rights Council vote on Syria,” and that people should wonder how the Philippines “became a Human Rights Council member in the first place.”

The UNHRC adopted a resolution – with 41 votes in favor, three against and two abstentions – condemning Syria and requesting the UN Commission of Inquiry to urgently conduct a “comprehensive, independent, and unfettered special inquiry” into the El-Houleh killings and to attempt to publicly identify those responsible. On May 25, at 12:30 p.m., shortly after a demonstration had taken place, the Syrian military allegedly unleashed a barrage of heavy weapons, artillery and tank fire on the El-Houleh area which continued until 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 26.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario admitted the Philippines did not take part in the voting on a draft resolution on Syria since it could affect the Filipinos working there and the Philippine government’s efforts in repatriating them.

In February, the Philippines did not participate in a United Nations General Assembly vote seeking endorsement of an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Again, in March, the Philippines abstained from voting on a UNHCR resolution deploring the “brutal actions of the Syrian regime,” again fearing reprisals against Filipino workers.

While I understand the government’s fear that any attempts to sanction the Syrian government may derail efforts to repatriate Filipino workers as well as Syrian government assistance toward this effort, it should bear in mind that those who voted for the resolutions also have nationals in Syria.

In a related matter, the government has to step up its efforts not to tolerate employees of the Bureau of Immigration who connive with human traffickers and illegal recruiters in sending undocumented workers to Syria.  One can just wonder how over a hundred workers are able to leave for Syria everyday through Dubai, the forefront of trafficked OFWs, and get past BID employees at the airport.

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