HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS – PILIPINAS
(HRD-Pilipinas or HRDP)
By Renato Mabunga
Human Rights Defenders – Pilipinas or HRD-Pilipinas is a non-stock, non-profit organization duly registered under the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It is a membership organization of individuals actively engaging in the promotion, defense, protection and fulfillment of “human rights for all” in the Philippines on various issues be it in civil, political, economic, social, cultural spheres or in the field of development and peace.
Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas was born-out from the series of campaigns of civil society organizations against the rising phenomenon of extra-judicial killings of human rights workers and activists in Philippines in 2006. This was highlighted with the official visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Execution Prof. Phillip Alston in March 2007; and, its subsequent report and recommendations on the Philippines at the UN Human Rights Council.
In 2008, under the Human Rights Defenders Program of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), series of consultations were conducted on the situation and protection of HRDs. In a resolution during the 1st National Conference of Human Rights Defenders on December 1-2, 2009 at De LaSalle University in Manila, participants to the gathering resolved to establish a formal organization of HRDs to look into possible protection mechanisms for HRDs and ways of enhancing their capabilities in doing human rights work.
A National Coordinating Committee was set-up to implement the resolution and manage the preparation of the organization. On November 30 – December 1, 2010, the 1st National General Assembly was called for and participated in by 75 HRDs coming from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao; formally launching the Human Rights Defenders – Pilipinas at the La Consolacion Convent, San Juan, Metro Manila.
As a human rights organization, it caters to all the human rights defenders regardless of sex, religion, social status, belief or political persuasions. As such, it is mandated to provide following services:
• Enhancement of skills and capabilities of its members and their organizations in particular and human rights defenders in general;
• Policy formulation and recommendation through engaging the Philippine Government and its apparatuses towards recognition and respect of the rights of human rights defenders;
• Campaign for and monitor excesses hampering effective implementation of human rights work;
• Organizing and facilitating formation of HRDs in “areas of struggles” where there is none; networking among and facilitation of support to areas with strong civil society movements;
• Work on preventive measures towards a strong protection mechanism for HRDs at risks through:
o Media work and liaisoning;
o Referral system on sanctuary issues, health, relief and psychosocial services;
o Lobby for and dialogue on preventive measures with authorities.
Towards this end, HRD-Pilipinas shall be a platform for cooperation, channel of communication and a mechanism for protection and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders in the Philippines.