By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES should keep its promise to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to overhaul its justice system or risk losing its credibility, political analysts said at the weekend.

“There seems to be a commitment to less punitive measures and more focus on rehabilitation in the war on drugs as well as an acknowledgment of the need to improve the justice system,” Maria Ela L. Atienza, who teaches political science at the University of the Philippines, said in a Viber message. “But talk is cheap and the government should deliver on these commitments.“

Global human rights groups may find it difficult to take the Justice chief’s UN speech seriously since most see the current administration as a continuation of the Duterte government’s policies on the drug war, she added.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told the UN council last week the government aims to “change the culture” of the local justice system, which he said is prone to delays.

The government aims to release about 5,000 inmates next year, as it tries to decongest the world’s most crowded jails, the Justice chief said in his UN statement, a copy of which was given to reporters on Oct. 5.

The state released more than 350 inmates last month including the sick and elderly, many of whom had already served their sentences.

With 215,000 prisoners nationwide, Philippine jails and prisons are overfilled more than five times their official capacity, making them the most overcrowded prison system in the world, according to the World Prison Brief.

The Justice department also plans to increase the prosecution success rate by streamlining processes between government prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.

“We are reforming our system to deliver what our people deserve — real justice in real time,” said Mr. Remulla, who represented the Philippines at the 51st regular session of the UN council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Marlon M. Villarin, a political science professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said the Justice chief’s speech to the UN clearly conveyed the government’s intention to abide by international human rights standards.

“Secretary Remulla’s stance shows the country’s solid commitment and submission to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said in a Viber message.

“The government’s relationship with the international community would depend on the quality or results the present administration can achieve in improving our local justice system,” he added.