[Appeal] Open Letter to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and All Duty-bearers

Open Letter to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and All Duty-bearers

The people has chosen you as the new primary duty-bearers of the State’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfill all human rights of all its constituencies who have been short-changed or failed by the past administrations since the uprising in EDSA against the dictatorship of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.  Headed by Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the national Chief Executive and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, together with the local executives and the national and local legislators, either newly elected or re-elected, are the duty bearers of human rights.

Everyone of you, chosen candidates, will have been sworn in as Duty-bearers by June 30, 2016 to uphold the Philippine Constitution.  Among others this solemn oath include provisions pertaining explicitly to human rights, such as Article II: The Declaration of Principles and State’s Policies, and Article III: The Bill of Rights.  Obligations to human rights became more explicit when the country signed and ratified international human rights treaties, among others, the United Nations International Bill of Rights (UN IBR) including the Second Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on Civil and Polictical Rights  (which abolishes the death penalty), the UN Convention Against Torture (UN CAT), UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (UN CEDAW), UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD),  UN Convention on International Humanitarian Law including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Though many of our human rights in the international HR treaties already have enabling laws, there are many others which are urgently needed, like the Zero Hunger Bill for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food and the People’s Freedom of Information Bill to enhance transparency and accountability in  a rights-based governance through the implementation of the right to information.

These obligations to human rights are integral to your positions as duty-bearers.  These obligations are neither optional nor subject to selectivity.  These obligations must always respect, protect and fulfill human rights according to international standards and to our national laws and to the needs of the people.  On these, the duty-bearers must finally base  their governance and development plans and programs. The obligations may be  daunting and difficult, but not impossible to realize.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and all other undersigned Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) thus express our collective willingness to converge with the efforts of Duty-bearers, including the Human Rights Offices and personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

As claimholders of human rights, we are, according to our capabilities, willing to work together at the national and local levels, in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of Government, to realize immediately and progressively the human rights of our people, especially the poor and most vulnerable among them.

Together with other human rights defenders, at different appropriate occasions, we will present our common working Human Rights Agenda to duty-bearers and claimholders alike.

At the same time, as we converge to promote human rights (civil, political, economic, social and cultural), we shall maintain and sustain vigilance and alertness against human rights violations, much more against impunity, against the same rights to avoid and to rectify the short-comings and mistakes of the past and to ensure non-recurrence.

Through documentation and monitoring, we will expose and condemn attempts and acts that encourage, condone, justify and even reward, perpetrators against human rights and the rule of law.

We will also stand firm against any attempt to turn tens of thousands of gross human rights violations during Martial Law of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, a fake World War II bemedalled soldier, into heroic deeds with a burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Extolling impunity is worse than just glossing over violations. Giving honors to impunity not only perpetuates but encourages further commission of violations.  On the other hand,, pursuing and obtaining justice against past violations builds a stronger foundation for the future of human rights in our country.

Finally, we will build formations of Human Rights Defenders at all levels of governance to promote and to defend human rights without compromise.

June 30, 2016

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC)
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Asian Federation Against Disappearance (AFAD)
Balaod Mindanaw
Balay Rehabilitation Center
Center for Migrants Advocacy (CMA)
Childrens Legal Research and Development
Claimants 1081
Focus on the Global South
Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (LAHRA)
Makabayan Pilipinas
Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG)
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)
Namess Heroes and Martyrs, Inc.
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)
Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA)
Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Council of the Laity of the Philippines)
Sumpay Mindanao
Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan
Woman Health Philippines

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Ana Maria R. Nemenzo
Candy Diez
Carmen Lauzon-Gatmaitan
Atty. Cecilia Jimenez
Ellecer Carlos
Evelyn Serrano
Ging Cristobal
Marria Natividad Pescante
Atty. Milabel Cristobal
Niza Concepcion
Dr. Renato Mabunga
Rick Reyes
Rosemarie Trajano
Prof. Walden Bello
Violeta de Guzman

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