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Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights rights reviews report of the Philippines

GENEVA (29 September 2016) - The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights today concluded its consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of the Philippines on its implementation of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.
 
Introducing the report, Rosemarie G. Edillon, Deputy Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines, emphasized that the Government highly regarded the dialogue and saw it as an important exercise in advancing human rights advocacy.  It was a privilege to dialogue with human rights experts who could provide guidance on issues which were of equal concern to the Government.  The Philippines took pride in a Constitution that enshrined human rights in its Declaration of Principles and State Policies.  Relevant provisions of the Covenant had found a place within the legal environment of the Philippines. The measures that the Government had undertaken in order to address concerns tackled the adverse effects of responsible mining, the plight of its indigenous peoples, and the marine environment, to name a few.
 
In the ensuing dialogue, Committee Experts inquired about the extrajudicial killings of human right defenders; the situation of the Lumads in Mindanao as a result of an ongoing conflict; the principle of free, prior and informed consent in relation to indigenous peoples as well as conflicting legislation in reference to their lands; investment efforts to tackle poverty which did not reach a significant part of the population; the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly in regard to transportation and education; deplorable working conditions in sweat shops where mostly women worked; and the protection of  informal workers. In particular, Experts were concerned about the extrajudicial killings which were related to the war of drugs, and which seemed to target the poorest populations.  They were also concerned about forced evictions, which had been carried out to give way to public-private partnership projects. In concluding remarks, Olivier de Schutter, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the Philippines, stated that the delegation had learned a lot and he hoped that the Committee’s recommendations would be of help to the new Government at a time when the expectations of the young people were high.
 
Ms. Edillon, in concluding remarks, stressed that the message of the Government was that it was open to dialogue.  It was the adherence to human rights that made the Philippines a beautiful country.
Waleed Sadi, Committee Chairperson, expressed gratitude to the delegation for the detailed answers and asked the delegation to drive home the message that future achievements and progress should be based on the Covenant.
The delegation of the Philippines consisted of the representatives of the National Economic and Development Authority, the Presidential Human Rights Committee, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labour and Employment, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Health, the Department of Education, the National Housing Authority, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
 
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Friday, 7 October for the public closing of its fifty-ninth session.   
 
Report
 
The combined fifth and sixth periodic report of the Philippines can be read here: E/C.12/PHL/5-6http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2fC%2fSLE%2f3-5&Lang=en.
 
Presentation of the Report
 
ROSEMARIE G. EDILLON, Deputy Director General, National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines, emphasized that the Government highly regarded the dialogue as an important exercise in advancing human rights advocacy. It was a privilege to dialogue with human rights experts who could provide guidance into what the country was doing to promote the cause, in the midst of constraints that continued to confront developing countries. The List of Issues affirmed the Government’s own desire to address the same concerns. The Philippines took pride in a Constitution that enshrined human rights in its Declaration of Principles and State Policies. Relevant provisions of the Covenant had found a place within the legal environment of the Philippines. The Philippines accorded special attention to the plight of its indigenous peoples, who were most affected by the mining industry.  The Government continually sought more effective ways of empowering its indigenous peoples and communities through a series of consultation processes, in the exercise of the principle of free, prior and informed consent. In 2015, the Fisheries Code had been enacted to preserve the marine environment, and to uphold Filipinos’ right to freely dispose of natural resources.  The Law mandated that preference would be given to users in the local communities adjacent to or nearest to municipal waters.
 
Among other concerns which the Government was addressing was the misuse and abuse of public funds and resources, where the Philippine Ombudsman had obtained 75 convictions involving 124 individuals, pursuant to the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act.  Complementing those efforts were ongoing measures to strengthen the enforcement of anti-corruption legislation, such as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 and the Sandiganbayan Act of 2015. A hotline service “8888” had been launched to engage the general public in the anti-corruption efforts.  Those efforts had resulted in more prudent and streamlined public spending. Other concerns that the authorities were addressing were: discrimination, where cultural prejudices were targeted through, inter alia, the Integrated History Act of 2016; decent work, which was addressed through the Human Resource Roadmap 2016-2011; the protection of Filipino migrant workers through the amended Migrant Workers Act; social security through a number of measures, including a conditional cash transfer programme and a supplemental feeding program; the protection and strengthening of its basic unit – the family through the Family Code, the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, and a proactive role against human trafficking; eradicating poverty; improving physical and mental health and the access thereof; promoting education through the biggest reform in the history of the country; and the protection of cultural heritage and diversity.
 
Questions by Experts
 
OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the Philippines, extended his welcome for the particularly big delegation. He was glad that the Committee was reviewing the State party’s report at a time when many positive developments had been undertaken, including several laws.  Those showed the willingness of the Philippines to move in the direction of implementing the Covenant.
 
The position of the Covenant in the domestic legal order, he said, was particularly important, especially having in mind that the Constitution did not include economic, social and cultural rights. It was thus very important for courts to be able to directly invoke the provisions of the Convention.  How could the Government improve the training in that area?
 
Regarding the Commission on Human Rights, which was conducting very important work, the Committee was anxious to see a bill strengthening that body, namely the Commission on Human Rights Charter.  The Expert asked whether priority was given to that process, especially in terms of putting the body in line with the Paris Principles.
 
Human right defenders’ lives continued to be threatened and their rights continued to be violated.  Some had been extrajudicially killed. The Philippines had been ranked as the fifth most dangerous place for workers.  Killings of indigenous peoples and peasants had been documented. What measures was the Government planning to use to provide protection to those human rights defenders?
 
Mr. de Schutter commended the adoption of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act and the establishment of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. What were the reasons the Government had still not ratified the International Labour Convention 159?
 
Reports had been received on the impact of the conflict between the Government and militias on the Lumads in Mindanao. What was being done to protect the people there from the impact of the conflict?
 
The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act appeared to be in conflict with other acts, noted the Expert.  On the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, he asked why the principle of free, prior and informed consent had not been applied. Indigenous peoples’ representatives were not always represented.  The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples was sometimes mistrusted by the indigenous peoples themselves, in particular by the Lumads in Mindanao.
 
The Committee wanted to be assured that the adoption of the bill pertaining to land conflicts would be given a priority.
 
Who benefited from the investment efforts by the Government? Could the delegation provide disaggregated data on the investments made?  Allegedly only eight pesos per person were allocated to persons with disabilities. Was it true that discrimination was practiced in the distribution of funds?
 
There was no comprehensive anti-discrimination law in the country, in spite of the bill that had been drafted. The Expert indicated that a priority should be given to the adoption of that bill. The Immigration Act allowed prohibiting persons with epilepsy and other diseases from entering the country. The Committee was struck by the fact that the Labour Code discriminated potentially against foreign workers.  The Magna Carta did not cover all provisions under the Convention regarding the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly in regard to transportation.
 
Could women benefit more from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme which had been extended? That programme had benefited 2.3 million people over the past 25 years and it was impressive.  However, only 29 percent of the beneficiaries were women.
 
Women were highly educated, but their participation rates in employment remained significantly lower than those of men. Whereas women’s participation rate in the labour market was 51.1 percent, men’s participation stood at 79.8 percent. In addition, their income was half of that of men on average. The delegation was asked to address those concerns.
 
Another Expert raised concerns on the unemployment rate, which was possibly ten percent.  How did the country collect data?  What measures were intended to combat underemployment?
 
The Magna Carta had provisions on persons with disabilities, but there was lack of information on those, noted the Expert.
 
Concern was expressed regarding sweat shops, where mostly women were employed, and where conditions were deplorable. What was being done to address those labour rights for women?
 
How were informal workers protected in the Philippines? In particular, how were the rights of women in the informal sector protected, especially with regard to maternity leave and other similar rights?
 
What was the understanding of the “endo” or end of contract system, and what could be done about it?
 
On the minimum wage, the Committee had heard that it had been pushed down to a level that could not ensure an adequate standard of living. How did the wages in practice relate to the cost of living, and what steps were being undertaken to bring them closer to the standard of living? What was the situation of agricultural workers who allegedly did not have a minimum wage? In addition, there was apparently no compliance with the minimum wage, and no cases of sanctioning non-compliance. How was that addressed?
 
Only one out of ten workers were covered under a collective agreement. Question was asked about steps taken to protect those workers who were not under a collective agreement. What was done to prevent harassment of trade union leaders and activists?
 
How did social security address workers with precarious contracts, workers in the informal sector, and female workers?
 
The Expert inquired about the obligations of the Government in terms of conditional cash transfers.  If, for example, a cash transfer obliged children to go to school, but there was no school nearby, did the family not receive a cash transfer?
 
An Expert indicated that prison conditions in the Philippines were most disturbing and did not fit the image of Philippines as a democracy that championed human rights. Young people were exploited, especially first time offenders had to be given the benefit of the doubt. Could the State party entertain a more humane punishment to first time offenders?
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
On the position of the Covenant in the legislation, the delegation corrected the statement that economic, social and cultural rights were not in the Constitution, and enumerated the articles to that effect.  The delegation also enumerated cases where the Supreme Court directly applied the Covenant, including on the right on just and equitable work, the rights of transgender persons, and reproductive health, among other rights.
 
There were four bills pending with the National Human Rights Institution, including the grant of prosecutorial autonomy, the power to issue temporary restraining orders, and fiscal autonomy. The National Human Rights Commission Charter would meet the full requirements of the Paris Principles.
 
The Government aimed to end the culture of impunity on extrajudicial killings. Some of the measures undertaken to that effect were the establishment of a high-level Inter-Ministerial Committee, where the Commission on Human Rights and the Ombudsman sat as observers.  The Philippine legal system strongly reinforced the innocent until proven guilty principle, however changes had been made when extrajudicial killings were in question.
 
On the impact of the Mindanao conflict on the Lumad people, the delegation stated that there was a protocol for displacement in place, which provided for initial response. The Government aimed for long-term, as well as short-term solutions to that conflict, and the current peace talks were part of the long-term solution.
 
International Labour Convention 169 on Indigenous Peoples was part of the list of priorities in the Labour Department.  An inter-agency technical working group had been created to that effect.  There were some obstacles which led to the delay, including the issue of ancestral lands.
 
On the principle of free prior and informed consent, with regard to indigenous peoples, there were indeed some challenges, and efforts to improve the situation were ongoing. Several Ministries were working in partnership with indigenous peoples through specific programmes which targeted indigenous peoples. That included the Departments of education, health, and social welfare and development.
 
Regarding the conditional cash transfers, disaggregated data on poverty and how public budgets were allocated in that respect, the delegation replied that beneficiaries were chosen through the National Household Targeting System, which had conducted two samplings, in 2009 and in 2015. If poverty incidence was higher than 50 percent, a census was adopted.
 
Every agency of the Government was mandated to allocate one percent of its budget for persons with disabilities, said a delegate.
 
Turning to the question of the comprehensive anti-discrimination law, the delegation said that there was no prohibition of labour rights, including trade union rights, of foreign workers. The Philippine Immigration Act did not include pregnancy as a ground for expulsion or non-entry. The country no longer banned the entry of persons with infectious diseases, but instead monitored those persons.  Several laws prohibited discrimination, and several acts prohibited gender discrimination.
 
The low employment rate of women was one of the concerns addressed in the upcoming national development plan. One of the reasons for that were family obligations.  There was no regulatory framework concerning part-time work. That would also be addressed in the plan. Currently a bill on freelance workers was in place. There was no discrimination against women in the labour force, stressed the delegation. Laws had been amended to promote women’s employment, including in terms of allowing them to work night shifts and remove age requirements. Those legislative initiatives, as well as the Magna Carta for Women, were promoting the active participation of women in the work force.  A project called “Job Start Philippines” gave priority to employment of disadvantaged youth and young women.
 
Tax incentives were in place that favoured employment of persons with disabilities. The Government provided funds to promote their education, including support for books, materials, and minimum admission requirements.  On the access of persons with disabilities to the transport system, the delegation explained that the law required accessibility in public transport terminals, public telephones, and other facilities.
 
Employment was measured as defined by the International Labour Convention. The working age was 15 years and above. The Labour Force Survey was conducted once every quarter. Problems had been encountered when Typhoon Haiyan hit in November 2013 and destroyed the records; a new listing had been devised since.
 
Measures to combat unemployment and underemployment were addressed through a number of initiatives. The problem was most prevalent among youth because they lacked experience, maturity and skills. The educational system was not in sync with the legal requirements to work, and the educational reform was one way of correcting that. Fiscal and monetary benefits, tax reforms, easing the cost of doing business, and facilitating training were among the initiatives. The Government had increased the budget by 100 percent.  The “Job Start” programme for youth employment would be implemented as a priority.  Youth unemployment and underemployment rates had dropped, informed a delegate. 
 
Questions by Experts
 
An Expert stated that divorce was not allowed yet in the Philippines. What was the status of the proposed bill to that effect?
 
Allegedly there was a high number of unregistered undocumented children, in particular among the migrant and Muslim communities. Could the delegation comment?
 
What kinds of measures were envisioned for persons with disabilities who were left to live at home?
 
The Magna Carta of Women was allegedly not known to women who were most needy, including indigenous women and women with disabilities.  What was being done to counter that?  How did the country reconcile the contradiction between the Magna Carta of Women and the Muslim community which operated under traditional customs?  What was the plan to enact the revised provisions of the Anti-Rape Law?  What was being done to counter violence against women with disabilities?
 
There was a high number of children engaged in the worst forms ofchild labour, including gold mining.  There were also children involved in armed conflict.  Question was asked on what the authorities were doing in that regard. 
 
Trafficking in persons remained a significant problem. Women and children in remote areas were victims of sexual exploitation. Enforcement officials, diplomats and other officials had allegedly been complicit in trafficking issues. What was being done in that respect?
 
Another Expert asked what anti-poverty measures had been adopted to target those most affected and the most vulnerable. What results had been achieved, and would the conditional cash transfer programme be amended to include the most marginalised?
 
Did the Government intend to increase the budget allocation for social housing units, asked an Expert.  What remedial measures were taken to address the large number of people living in informal settlements? Apparently 22 million people were living in slum areas with limited infrastructure and under the constant risk of eviction. Homelessness was a big problem. What measures were in place to ensure housing for persons with disabilities? What corrective measures were taken to address the substandard living conditions of internally displaced persons?
 
Non-governmental organisations had noted 57 incidences of forced evictions, often by the military, and often with violence, between 2010 and 2013.  They had been carried out to give way to public-private partnership projects, including shopping malls and entertainment facilities.
 
An Expert asked when zero hunger bill would be adopted in order to fight the high rate of malnutrition.
 
What percentage of the population was covered by the National Health Insurance Programme?
 
Another Expert noted a high maternal mortality rate, which was related to the ban on abortion and the criminalisation thereof.  There was a need for a real change in policy in that respect.
 
The war on drugs had seen almost 3,000 people killed, many of whom were poor people suspected of using or smuggling drugs. Where was the rule of law here?
 
Another Expert said that a right to food framework law was crucial. What follow up plan would be given to the Agrarian Reform Act?
 
Small fisheries were a source of livelihood for many Filipinos, however 39.2 percent of small fishers were considered to be under the poverty line.  Those were confronted by the climate change, commercial work in coastal areas and so forth. The Expert noted that the Fisheries Code had to be improved to address those issues.
 
What were the next steps of the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood Act?
 
Another Expert asked the delegation to supply information on several categories of children, including children in armed conflict, displaced children, and disadvantaged and marginalised children. What steps were being taken to ensure education of children in the conflict area of Mindanao? Could statistics be given on the number of children dropping out of school in that area in the last three years?  What kinds of measures had been taken to ensure the safety of these children in schools?
 
On the promotion of culture for indigenous peoples, question was asked on legal acts regulating these issues.  How was prior consent ensured?
 
What was done by the Government to increase the scope of the Internet coverage in remote areas, asked the Expert. 
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
The delegation, replying to the questions on labour rights, informed that the information that the Committee had received about the minimum wage was incorrect. In fact, there was a two-tier wage system, based on the productivity of each sector.
 
Regarding the informal economy, from 2011 to 2015, a total of more than 400,000 people had benefited from the programme in that field.  A legislative act entitled Magna Carta for Workers in the Informal Sector was currently being drafted in line with the International Labour Organisation Recommendation 204 on informal workers.
 
Contracting was not allowed, explained the delegation. Thousands of representatives had attended the contractualisation consultation organised by the Government, which had resulted in the voluntary regularisation of over 10,000 workers to date.  
 
On trade union rights, as of December 2015, a total of 17,066 unions had been recorded, with over 1.4 million workers.  Union registration had increased by one percent the past year.  Union membership had grown by over 13 percent over the past ten years.
 
The Labour Management Council aimed to foster better relations between labour and management, and supplemented the collective bargaining agreement.  There were guidelines establishing voluntary standards on social and other aspects.
 
The gender and foreign perspective in labour relations was promoted through a tripartite arrangement which had initiated a number of bills to that effect.
 
Concerning the low birth registration among indigenous peoples and Muslims, the delegation
 
informed that, in 2015, the President had signed a proclamation declaring 2015-2024 as a statistics decade.  That defined the commitment and measures of the Government to ensure statistics, including on birth registration.  Registration of children of overseas Filipino workers was done all over the world, including in cases of where just the father or just the mother was Filipino. Some countries had not allowed that in the past when children would be born out of wedlock.  The issue had been resolved through changing the rules, and no longer requiring a birth certificate of the hospital where the child was born.  Instead, an affidavit of the mother, father or doctor was enough for the embassies to register the birth.
 
The Magna Carta of Women, adopted in 2009, was still work in progress.  The Commission on the Status of Women, in collaboration with several agencies and civil society, worked together to promote the provisions of that act.
 
On the question of the contradiction between the Magna Carta and Muslim Law, the delegation informed that that was also work in progress. Early marriage, polygamy and divorce were contradictory aspects, and Muslim women were involved in consultations on possible harmonization.
 
The new Anti-Rape bill defined the “lack of consent” provision, placed the burden of proof with the perpetrator and not on the victim and did away with the pardon provision.
 
On the question of the rising incidence of violence against women, the delegation replied that that reflected positive effects of the awareness-raising campaigns, and it meant that women now reported cases of sexual violence.
 
The Status of Divorce bill allowed legal separation, and the Government would continue pushing the passage of that bill.
 
The delegation informed that the new Anti-Trafficking Law expanded the list of anti-trafficking to several categories, including use of public office and attempted state of trafficking.  Among the novelties in the law were consulting services, to prevent women from being trafficked in the guise of marriage.  Trafficking of a child was considered “qualified trafficking” punishable by imprisonment and USD 40,000.  A gender-responsive case management model had been initiated for the use of all stakeholders who worked on trafficking.
 
To ensure the protection of children’s rights as well as displaced women in disaster situations, the Child Friendly Space and Women Friendly Spaces had been created, among other initiatives.
 
The figure that the Committee had cited of less than three percent of the Gross Domestic Product dedicated to health was incorrect.  The spending for health actually stood at 4.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
 
Regarding reproductive health and abortion, the delegation said that the law recognized medical situations for abortion performed in situations when the life of a woman was at risk. There was a need to address the root causes of abortion and increase awareness-raising campaigns to that effect.
 
The  delegation explained that the national insurance programme ensured the coverage of all persons with disabilities.
 
Specific educational programmes addressing the Muslim community, as well as other categories, had been developed.  Academic technical-vocational, sports, and arts and design were the four categories of choice for high schools.  The 2017 budget was 22 percent higher than the previous one, and amounted to over six percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
 
Teachers handling learners with special education needs were trained in partnership with other organisations. Student needs were identified through professional development support, and the categories included communication disorder, emotional behavioural disorder, hearing or visual impairment, physical and mental disability, and others.  Access and toilet facilities in mainstream schools were available for children with disabilities.
 
The economic growth of the Philippines was increasing, but there were still pockets of poverty.  The Philippine Development Plan would have both top-down and bottom-up approach to target poverty, and would target the reasons why certain provinces and economies were unable to benefit from the total growth.  Intergenerational cycles of poverty would be addressed by way of including the human capital of children. That was why conditional cash transfers were being given to the families, conditional on children going to school, attendance of family development sessions, and women undergoing regular doctor visits. There was a modified conditional cash transfer programme for the displaced, the homeless and the migrants, where livelihood programmes were provided.
 
The pension for seniors was 500 pesos per month, which translated to USD 10.  The culture was such that pensioners stayed with their families.  For 2017, that budget would be doubled.
 
On the issue of relocation sites for families affected by natural disasters, notably Typhoon Haiyan, the delegation informed that there were several stages of assistance. The first was temporary shelters, the second was transitional housing. There were problems with the resettlement sites because they were far from a water source. Temporary assistance was being provided in order to ensure water facilities.
 
Regarding the question of whether the housing budget would be increased, the delegation acknowledged that the budget allocation was the lowest in the region, namely 1.13 percent of the national budget.  There was, thus, definitely a plan to increase the housing budget.  There were several programmes in place, targeting six different categories of people. Other mechanisms were liberalised repayment rules which extended the repayment rules from 25 to 30 years.  For disaster victims, only the loan would have to be covered, while the house was free.
 
Eviction was allowed under three circumstances: when families occupied dangerous areas; when they occupied lands marked for development programmes; and when they occupied privately owned lands.
 
Socialised housing for persons with disabilities was regulated by the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities.
 
Follow-up Questions by Experts
 
An Expert asked for a clarification of the figures of the health expenditures. Regarding the criminalisation of abortion, the Expert informed the delegation of the General Comment by the Committee to that effect, and suggested the State party look into it.
 
The large wage gap for female workers, especially those working in sweat shops, did not meet the labour requirements, the Expert noted. 
 
Another Expert was deeply concerned regarding human rights defenders, who were exposed to serious risks.  Could the delegation comment why mandates who had asked for visits had not been warmly welcomed.  What were the plans to stop the extrajudicial killings, measure to prevent the current war on drugs and from becoming a war against the poor?
 
The rate of HIV/AIDS was over two percent, which was quite high. Was it true that the newest drugs to fight the virus were not financed?
 
An Expert, turning to the right to health, said that the country was taking a wrong and dangerous direction. There were tough penalties for possession and use of drugs, which resulted in the doubling of the prison population. What was being done to stop the extrajudicial killings and ensure that the war on drugs was not becoming a war on the poor?
 
OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the Philippines, asked the delegation to clarify whether enough was invested to integrate persons with disabilities. Additionally, it seemed that the level of support going to families with children with disabilities was the same with that of support to other families. The delegation was asked to provide further information.
 
Had the Magna Carta for Persons in the Informal Economy been adopted?  Could the delegation also respond to the questions on the right to food?
 
Another Expert asked why there was no social protection floor, and reiterated her concerns about the minimum wage, sweat shops, and other labour right related issues.
 
An Expert asked for a clarification on the numbers of children with disabilities outside the school system.
 
Question was asked on why the drug problem was so big, and whether it was poverty-related.
 
Further information was requested on the harmonisation efforts between the Muslim community and the Magna Carta for Women.

Replies by the Delegation
 
Regarding the questions on abortion, women were informed about their rights, said the delegation.
 
With regard to the assertion that the Philippines had not invited mandate-holders, the delegation informed that two Special Rapporteurs, as well as one Working Group, had visited the Philippines the previous year. 
 
The delegation admitted that there had been killings of human rights defenders, and the country was working towards their better protection.
 
The Magna Carta for Women and the Code of Muslim Persons were being harmonized.
 
On questions related to labour rights, there was indeed a social protection floor, confirmed the delegation. The “endo” (end of contract system) would be eliminated. There was no employment insurance, except for government employees.
 
Drug users were considered a health issue. There were over 700,000 drug users in the country.  The intent was to provide services, rehabilitate and reincorporate them in society. There was no deliberate effort to target the poor.
 
Regarding the scope of the Internet coverage, the Government had established a Department of Information and Communication Technology, which would be expanded in rural areas.
 
Concluding Remarks
 
OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the Philippines, said  that very rarely was there such a responsive delegation, with a wealth of statistics and data.  The Philippines was the fastest growing country in the world, which meant it was also a very young country.  Therefore, the young had to be targeted the most.  It was commendable that the Government addressed those challenges.  It was hoped that the Committee’s recommendations would be of help to the Government at a time when the new Government had just taken office and when the expectations of the young people were high.
 
ROSEMARIE G. EDILLON, Deputy Director General, National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines, thanked the Committee for the very fruitful dialogue. They were ready to answer the questions of the Committee until the Committee was satisfied.  The message of the Government was that it was open to dialogue.  The head of the delegation informed that that was her fourth dialogue with a committee in Geneva.  The Inter Agency Committee in Manilla never stopped preparing for following reports and dialogues.  It was the Government’s commitment to promote and protect human rights, and there was also a lively civil society movement in the Philippines. It was the adherence to human rights that made the Philippines a beautiful country, concluded Ms. Edillon.

WALEED SADI, Committee Chairperson, expressed his deep gratitude to the delegation for the detailed answers provided.  The Philippines had made progress but, there were still omissions. Mr. Sadi asked the delegation to drive home the message that the achievements and progress should be based on the Covenant.

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