Category Archives: Appeal

[Appeal] Statement of Appeal to Conduct Investigation on the recent massacre in Kabacan, North Cotabato the twin blast bombing in the town of Jolo, Sulu and also the spate killings in the IP communities -ALTAHR

Photo by ALTAHR

Statement of Appeal to Conduct Investigation on the recent massacre in Kabacan, North Cotabato the twin blast bombing in the town of Jolo, Sulu and also the spate killings in the IP communities.

STOP THE KILLINGS!
DEFEND HUMAN LIVES!
DEFEND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS!
DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS!

The Alliance of Tri-people for the Advancement of Human Rights is alarmed in the brutal massacre of the 9 innocent Bangsamoro people using the high powered long guns midday in the provincial road of Kabacan, North Cotabato among the victims are Kors Salilangan, Sandigan Zailon, Binladin Dimanalao, Musaid Jaiden, Romeo Balatamay, Katindig Kagayawon, Fahad Mandigan, Budsal Lipusan and Tong Guiaman all are Muslims. The kind of violent attack, again remind to all the Bangsamoro people during the dark period of Marcos era, which is many massacres and besieged of defenseless occurred in Bangsamoro homeland. According to the police report later disclosed that there was no firefight as the victim were allegedly gunned down along the road outside the campus of University of Southern Mindanao.

Over the past day twin blast including a suicide bombing killed almost 15 people and wounded 75 others mostly civilians, based on the PNP report the first blast was happened around noon on Monday August 24, 2020, when a homemade bomb in a motorcycle was triggered close to the two parked army trucks killings soldiers and civilians.

In conjunction with the bombing attack in the town of Jolo a lady leader of an Indigenous Peoples (IP) community in Magpet, North Cotabato was attacked by almost four men while heading for her farm with her daughter, when shot from behind by one of the suspect. As she fell another suspects finish her using a machete. The victim is Merlinda Ansabu Celis known as advocate of IP rights.

The tri-people of Mindanao the Bangsamoro, Migrants, and IP’s deserve better than to live in fear of the rampant violence and brutality just outside their homes.

We urge Bangsamoro Government to conduct independent investigation and the National Government to properly investigate and take active measures towards putting a stop to these rampant killings and finding the perpetrators, innocent lives do not deserved to be killed brutally . As a human Rights Organization that promotes human rights. The constitution guarantee our rights as it stated on the Article III bill of Rights section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. The Alliance of the Tri-people for the Advancement of human Rights (ALTAHR) strongly condemns the tragic incidents of the Kabacan Massacre, Jolo Bombing and the killings of lady IP leader throughout Mindanao.

Our prayers and sympathy are with the families of the victims.

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[Statement] The COVID-19 pandemic and the urban poor: a call to action -SALIGAN

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE URBAN POOR:
A CALL TO ACTION

An Open Letter to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Its Member Agencies

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a myriad of crises among the urban poor in the Philippines. With rising COVID-19 cases in major urban centers and with the government’s recent declaration of a quarantine extension that still puts highly urbanized areas like Cebu City and Mandaue City under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and the National Capital Region (NCR), Laguna, and Bulacan under Modified ECQ (MECQ), urban poor families are facing more risks and experiencing ever-increasing vulnerabilities.

Lack of access to testing and dense populations have particularly exposed urban poor communities to the risk of infection. Cramped in small shanties with very limited space for movement and with houses made of makeshift materials, physical distancing and home quarantine protocols are impossible to follow in most urban poor households. Overcrowded and with limited access to water and sanitation, urban poor communities are vulnerable to various health issues, including the unrestrained spread of COVID-19.

Job insecurity and loss of livelihood, coupled with lack of access to basic services, have pushed many urban poor families to extreme poverty. For two months now, most of the families have limited or zero income. The situation has exacerbated the insecurity and inflexibility of urban poor livelihoods and jobs. Informal sector workers and daily wage earners are immediately affected by the restrictions in movement and have narrow options in terms of alternative work arrangements. Families relying on microenterprises have used up their savings and working capital for their day-to-day needs during the quarantine.

Urban poor organizations have pointed out the inadequacy of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). A significant number of vulnerable families and individuals have not been included in the lists and the selection process has resulted in conflict among community members, community leaders, and barangay officials. While local government units (LGUs) attempted to provide food assistance to families, food aid from government and CSOs has already dwindled on the third and fourth week of the community quarantine. The ban on public transportation without workable alternatives has disadvantaged poor frontline workers, workers in essential industries, patients requiring regular medical attention, and urban poor pass holders going out to buy food and medicine.

Human rights abuses and arrests related to quarantine violations of the urban poor have been documented by different human rights groups. Meanwhile, domestic and gender-based violence and child abuse have worsened, with victims trapped at home with their abusers. The pandemic has also taken its toll on the psychosocial wellbeing of urban poor families. Children especially suffer in the midst of uncertainty and insecurity.

Indeed, the vulnerabilities of the urban poor are manifold: first, to the virus; second, to hunger; third, to abuse; and fourth, to fear and anxiety. Without a vaccine, treatment, or cure in sight, immediate, inclusive, and comprehensive government intervention is required. The crises faced by the urban poor cannot be solved by enhancing or modifying community quarantines alone. Enhancements and modifications to the government’s health and social amelioration programs and services are also necessary. They are a matter of life and death.

It is in this light that we, the undersigned civil society organizations, advocates, and members of the academe, urge the IATF for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to consider adopting the following measures:

1) Conduct free mass testing in urban poor communities and, consequently, contact tracing of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Provide additional Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs) and Local Isolation and General Treatment Areas for COVID-19 Cases (LIGTAS COVID) Centers as well as additional beds, food, water, sanitation facilities and equipment, and basic services for existing facilities and centers.

2) Automatically include all registered beneficiaries of the Urban Development and Housing Program, all qualified non-Pantawid urban poor households based on the guidelines of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and all families in National Housing Authority (NHA) Resettlement Sites, including non-traditional families and households, in the SAP. SAP allocation per community should be based on the actual number of families living there. Masterlists of registered beneficiaries and data on resettlement sites are immediately available at LGUs, homeowners’ associations (HOAs), people’s organizations (POs), and NHA.

3) Halt the incidence of hunger and fast-track the distribution of Food and Non-Food Items (FNIs) in urban poor communities. Augment the capacity of lower-income cities and municipalities to sustain the daily needs of big communities under their care.

4) Set up Mobile Palengke, Botika, and Family Clinics especially in communities that are far from city and municipal centers, marketplaces, and commercial areas. HOAs can help in the management of these initiatives.

5) Distribute face masks, alcohol, disinfectants, thermal scanners, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for community leaders who serve as frontliners in their communities, especially those with high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

6) Ensure sufficient water supply in all urban poor communities, especially in informal settlements and resettlement sites. In communities with limited access to washing and drinking water, water delivery and distribution should be undertaken.

7) Include programs and services for child protection and addressing domestic and gender-based violence as a core component of the government’s response to the pandemic, with sufficient resources and attention at national and all local levels. Facilitate the access of victim-survivors of domestic and gender-based violence and child abuse and exploitation to law enforcement, safety and security, legal assistance, and support services. This may be done by connecting the 911 Emergency Hotline to barangay violence against women (VAW) desks and women and children’s desks of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and allocating spaces that may serve as safe houses for victim-survivors. Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children (BCPCs) should also be activated to address child abuse and exploitation and domestic and gender-based violence alongside VAW desks. Existing protocols and guidelines for handling cases involving children should be promoted and popularized, and codes of conduct for the protection of children from abuse and maltreatment should be adopted by the PNP and LGUs.

8) Ensure the continuous access of children and adults to local healthcare services and facilities for nutrition, immunization, sexual and reproductive health, common illnesses, and mental health. All local healthcare workers must be provided with PPE. Physical distancing and regular disinfecting should be ensured in all health centers and facilities. The telemedicine program of the Department of Health (DOH) should also be made more accessible to children and adults in urban poor communities.

9) Undertake popular education and information campaigns to raise awareness and improve knowledge on COVID-19 and physical distancing and other measures in urban poor communities. Modules and materials for these campaigns should be age-appropriate, easily understandable, and accessible to PWDs.

10) Provide, in partnership with the private sector, free access of urban poor communities to the Internet as a crucial source of advisories and correct information related to the pandemic and the government’s programs and services. In this connection, measures to prevent online harassment and online sexual abuse and exploitation must also be adopted.

11) Reaffirm respect for human rights and human dignity as a policy of the State, especially in engaging and dealing with individuals suspected of violating the law to earn a living, to secure food, medicine, and basic necessities, and to air grievances. No individual suspected of violating the law should be physically or psychologically tortured or humiliated, or receive cruel, degrading, or inhuman punishment. Law enforcement protocols during the community quarantine should be exercised humanely and in accordance with principles of maximum tolerance, proportionality, and nondiscrimination.

12) Institute accessible and inclusive participation and feedback mechanisms at national and local levels especially for the urban poor and other vulnerable sectors, e.g. older persons, children, women, LGBT persons, and PWDs. Barangays should convene safe and regular consultations with community groups and organizations, such as HOAs, people’s organizations, and sectoral groups, for two-way feedback and inclusive recommendations on policies and concerns at the community level. Partnerships with CSOs working with different sectors should be built and strengthened to develop an inclusive whole-of-government approach that protects the vulnerable.

Signed:

Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panlegal (SALIGAN)
Contact: JC Tejano | tejano@saligan.org

Associates of the Urban Poor, Inc.

Community Organizers Multiversity

Save the Children Philippines

Joly Homes Foundation, Inc.

Urban Forum PH

Samahan ng Mamamayan – Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO)

Koalisyon Ng Mga Samahan Ng Taga-Balagbag, Inc.

Bagong Pag-Asa ng Taytay Homeowners Association, Inc.

Dr. Mary Racelis
Research Scientist, Institute of Philippine Culture; and
Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, School of Social Sciences
Ateneo de Manila University

Michael Lim Tan, PhD
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines Diliman

Edilberto C. de Jesus
Professor Emeritus
Asian Institute of Management

Agnes M. Brazal, PhD
Chair, Theology and Religious Education Department
De la Salle University

Randy Tuano
Assistant Professor, Economics Department
Ateneo de Manila University

Anna Marie A. Karaos
Associate Director
John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues

Skilty C. Labastilla
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
Ateneo de Manila University

Athena Charanne R. Presto
Instructor, Department of Sociology
University of the Philippines Diliman

Simone Marie Sales
Department of Anthropology
University of the Philippines Diliman

Jennifer Kleskie
University of the Philippines Diliman

Noelle de Jesus

Deborah Nieto

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[Appeal] KARAPATAN’s open letter on the recent cyber-attack against its website

KARAPATAN’s open letter on the recent cyber-attack against its website

Dear friends and colleagues,

Karapatan’s website http://www.karapatan.org has been inaccessible since January 20, 2019. We were careful not to automatically attribute this problem to a possible cyber attack against our web page. However, after much troubleshooting, our website continued to receive an abnormal load of traffic which was more than what the provider can handle. After requesting assistance from Quirum, a Sweden-based non-profit secure hosting provider for independent media and human rights organizations, to investigate, initial findings show that the signature of the attacks was identical to those of Philippine alternative media groups Bulatlat, Altermidya, and Pinoy Weekly. We, therefore, confirm that the inaccessibility of our website is due to a targeted Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack from a source intent on silencing Karapatan’s platform for online advocacy.

According to Qurium, Karapatan’s website has been monitored by the attackers since November 2018, when information and press statements, an average of three per day, were released by the alliance on various human rights violations. The attacks started on December 26, 2018. The attackers used several virtual private networks (VPNs). The attacker, Qurium says, can be a group of people judging by the number of devices they used. According to Qurium, this kind of attack against Karapatan’s site and other alternative news sites is one of the worst that they have seen in the last ten years that they have been monitoring attacks against civil society online spaces globally. It was a continuous and relentless attack, taking our website offline for nearly a month, bringing us to the conclusion that those who commissioned such attacks have enormous resources and thousands or even millions of funds to spend.

Since it was put online in 2007, Karapatan’s website has become one of the primary sources of data and analysis on the human rights situation in the country. Our website is a space for us to provide information and expose rights violations in the Philippines, to report evidence-based analysis of the deteriorating rights situation in the country, to educate the public with access to internet on the need to promote, protect and uphold human and people’s rights, and to advocate for fundamental societal change. Resources on this website date back to the administration of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the current administration, and information on many cases, which at times do not receive ample attention from authorities, are published in this site. Together with those who support our advocacy, both online and offline, we persevered in maintaining the site, keeping it updated as much as possible, knowing fully well that the victims and their families need all the help and efficiency we can muster.

With this, the only ones who can benefit from such attacks are State forces, with billions of intelligence and discretionary funds in their war chest and whom we have relentlessly made accountable through our human rights advocacy in both online and offline platforms. Karapatan strongly condemns this attack as a desperate move by those who have clear contempt on the exercise of people’s rights.

In light of similar attacks against alternative news platforms Bulatlat, Kodao Productions, Altermidya, and Pinoy Weekly and the politically-motivated charges against Rappler’s Maria Ressa, this cyber attack reveals a systematic and devious effort to curtail people’s basic rights to information, freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief, both online and offline.

This is an extension of the Duterte government’s attack against human rights defenders and against people’s rights. This year, we have been grappling with the Securities and Exchange Commission Memorandum No. 15 which institutionalizes red-tagging and can seriously hamper the work of organizations through arbitrary and draconian provisions. Prior to this, we have dealt with online threats, banners branding us as “enemies of the State” and outright violations such as killings and arrests perpetrated against our colleagues. Clearly, this is an effort to silence us, but we will not cower.

We stand in solidarity with the Philippine-based alternative media groups who have been subjected to similar attacks. They are among the most reliable partners of people’s organizations in upholding the people’s right to information and freedom of expression.

We thank Qurium and all digital activists who are helping us, as we are back online since February 15, 2019. However, we remain uncertain if our website can withstand future attacks, which is why we call on all our partners among national and international civil society and human rights bodies, members of the media and academe, and human rights defenders to continue this support by providing spaces in your online platforms for statements, reports, and materials released by Karapatan. Amid constant threats of similar online attacks, we enjoin you to #MirrorUs to #FightBack, a solidarity online campaign that we will be launching to enable the release of public information from Karapatan through publication in various websites and social media accounts. You may contact us at karapatan@karapatan.org for further information on this campaign.

Through your support, Karapatan, in all its years of activism and advocacy, has carried on despite numerous attacks directed against the alliance. As we remain vigilant, we will take concrete steps towards exacting accountability and exposing this deliberate and devious web of repressive tools to ultimately silence dissent and critical opinion.

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[Appeal] Open Letter to the Committee on Justice of Senate of the Philippines -OMCT

Open Letter to the Committee on Justice of Senate of the Philippines
Senate President: Senator Vicente C. Sotto III,

Via email: os_sotto@yahoo.com

Geneva, 24 January 2019

Re: Minimum age of criminal responsibility must not be lowered

Dear Senator Vicente C. Sotto III,

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), the leading global network of civil society organizations against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the world, is writing to express its grave concern about the approval by the House of Representatives of the Philippines on 23 January of the amendment of the current juvenile justice law, which aims at lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old.

International human rights bodies have repeatedly encouraged the Philippines to not lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility currently set at 15 years old. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child specifically urged the Philippines to “take all necessary measures to ensure that the age of criminal responsibility is not lowered”.[1] Commenting on the previous draft Bill No. 922, rejected early 2017, which sought to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to nine years, the United Nations Committee against Torture recommended that “the age of criminal responsibility be maintained at the age of 15 years.”[2]

There is ample evidence showing that early contact with the justice system and detention of children, especially young children, leads to serious and life-long negative impacts on their mental, emotional and physical health and development.

Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility will not reduce crime. On the contrary, research show that children in contact with the law have a higher chance of further involvement with the justice system. In addition, it is often the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children who come in contact with the justice system at a very young age. For instance, in 2018, the monitoring of holding centers of Caloocan City by the OMCT and partners showed that around 20% of children are detained because they have been rescued from the street or abusive parents. Another 30% are accused of having only committed minor offences.[3]

The approval of the proposed bill would also worsen the seriously overcrowded detention facilities throughout the Philippines, conditions which frequently amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.[4]

During prison visits, the OMCT and its partners have documented several incidents of corporal punishment of children while being apprehended and detained. This included physical and verbal abuse by staff as well as solitary confinement in small windowless cells. Visits also revealed poor sanitary installations, lack of medical services, lack of food and inadequate recreational activities [5]

Accordingly, the World Organization Against Torture respectfully urges the Senate of the Philippines:

– To maintain the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 15 years old.

– To ensure that deprivation of liberty is only used as a measure of last resort, as recommended by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

– To “Expand the use of alternative measures to deprivation of liberty, such as diversion, probation and counselling and community services”, as recommended by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

– To ensure that the fundamental rights of children in detention are respected in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In the hope that the concerns expressed in this letter will receive the attention they deserve, we remain at your disposal for any further information.

Yours sincerely,
Gerald Staberock
Secretary General
OMCT

[1] CRC/C/PHL/CO/3-4.
[2] CAT/C/PHL/CO/3.
[3] OMCT, CLRDC and PAHRA’s Follow-up Report to the Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture on the Philippines’ Third Periodic Report.
[4] According to official figures from the Commission of Audit the overcrowding of prisons has reached over 600 %.
[5] OMCT, CLRDC and PAHRA’s Follow-up Report to the Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture on the Philippines’ Third Periodic Report.

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[Appeal] Appeal to Congress (House of Representatives and Senate): DEMAND FOR THE INCLUSION OF IP RIGHTS IN THE BBL -Loyukan

Appeal to Congress (House of Representatives and Senate): DEMAND FOR THE INCLUSION OF IP RIGHTS IN THE BBL

The Késéfangguwit Timuay or Timuay Justice and Governance (TJG) is an Indigenous Political Structure (IPS) of the Téduray and Lambangian in the core area of the propose Bangsamoro political entity with a population of not less than one hundred twenty-seven thousand two-hundred sixty-eight (127,268) as of 2013 IPDev Census. They are in eighty-four (84) barangays in three (3) full municipalities and portions of eight (8) other municipalities in the first and second districts of Maguindanao province. We operate base on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

We the Non-Moro IPs are directly affected in the armed conflicts in mainland ARMM and in the quest for a genuine peace and development in Mindanao, we also spent time, resources and efforts to have our own TRUTH be heard in the peace processes and in the drafting of the BBL. Sadly, in the present version of the BBL adopted by the House of Representatives and Senate for Plenary are short of our proposals submitted to the BTC and during the public hearings called for by Congress (HoR and Senate) in early 2018.

Today, we appeal to all of you (members of the House of Representatives and Senate) to look at our Non-Negotiable provisions for consideration. These provisions are included in the Loyukan Briefer for wider circulation, and included here as follows:

KEY DEMANDS:

IDENTITY
Article II Sec 2. The freedom of choice of all indigenous peoples within the Bangsamoro territory to retain their distinct indigenous and ethnic identity in addition to their Bangsamoro political identity shall be respected. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of identity, religion, and ethnicity.

FPIC IN CONTIGUOUS TERRITORY
Article III, Sec. Contiguous provinces, cities, municipalities, barangay, and other geographical areas other than those mentioned in the preceding Section, that obtain majority of the qualified votes cast in the periodic plebiscites, as provided under Article XV, Section 4 of this Basic Law shall become part of the Bangsamoro; Provided, that the inclusion of the ancestral domains in the Bangsamoro shall be subject to the free, prior, and informed consent of the affected community.

DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF MORO AND NON-MORO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’
Article IV, Sec 9. The Bangsamoro government recognizes and promotes the rights of Moro and Non-Moro indigenous peoples’ within the framework of the Constitution and existing laws.

CONCURRENT POWERS
Article V, Sec. 2. The Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government shall exercise shared powers within the Bangsamoro on the following matters: (29) Ancestral Domain and Natural Resources (30) Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro (31) Creation of the Independent Commission for Moro and Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples.

IP RIGHTS
Article IX, Sec. 4. Consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples'(UNDRIP), the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), and existing laws on indigenous peoples.

FPIC FOR PROTECTED AREAS
Article XIII, Sec. 8. The Bangsamoro Parliament shall pass a law for the establishment of protected areas, creating procedure for the declaration and management of protected areas and the role of the Bangsamoro Government. Provided that the protected areas to be declared within ancestral domains shall be subject to the free, prior, and informed consent of Moro and Non-Moro indigenous peoples.

RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OVER NATURAL RESOURCES
Article XIII, Sec. 12. The Bangsamoro Parliament shall enact a law recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro in relation to natural resources within the territories covered by a native title, including their share in revenues, as provided in this Basic Law, and priority rights in the exploration, development and utilization of such natural resources within their area. Exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources, including but not limited to fossil fuels and uranium, mines and minerals, and renewable energy, within ancestral domains shall be subject to FPIC.

REPEALING CLAUSE
Article XVIII, Sec. 2. Provided that such laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations, and other issuances and parts thereof, shall not be inconsistent with the Constitution, and shall not fall below the minimum standards contained in national laws and relevant international instruments.

Finally, please find attached the Loyukan Briefing paper for details of all the processes we underwent to raise these issues and concerns to concerned offices.

Thank you very much.
📷For the TJG Baglalan (Officials),
SANNIE S. BELLO
Timuay Labi (Supreme Timuay/Chief)

Photo credit : Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)

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[Appeal] An Urgent Appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte

File photo from the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance -FAHRA

An Urgent Appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte
Malacanang Palace, 1000 Jose P Laurel Sr, San Miguel, Manila,
Metro Manila, Philippines

Your Excellency,

The Philippines has recognized the importance of human rights when it voted in favor of adopting United Nations’ 1948 Resolution to promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Filipino American human rights advocates in the United States subscribes to these principles and they can be a powerful force for good.

The Philippines placed promoting human rights at the center of the government’s framework of principles and policies. Promoting human rights and democratic governance was embodied in the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

The framers of the constitution also created the Commission on Human Rights to protect the human rights of all persons within the Philippines, as well as of Filipinos residing abroad as a response to the gross violations of human rights of the Marcos dictatorship from 1972 to 1981.

Respected Nationalist, Jose W. Diokno, as chairman of the Philippine Presidential Committee on Human Rights advocated to internalize reverence for human rights through vigilance like research and education on violations of human rights.

Amnesty International recently published reports about the extrajudicial killings of over 7,000 persons suspected of dealing in illegal drugs or being simply drug addicts since you took office, with a third of these credibly attributed to actions by the PNP and/or state actors.

The U.S. Department of State’s 2017 Human Rights Report also stated that “police and unknown vigilantes have killed more than 6,000 suspected drug dealers and users” in the Philippines between July and December 2016, a period during which extrajudicial killings “increased sharply”; and allegedly undertaken by vigilantes, security forces, and insurgents.

You promised to kill 100,000 drug dealers and addicts, and as president have repeated these numbers and even ten times this number—contrary to our democratic processes in which made it possible for you to become President of the Philippines. Incitement to violence and discrimination is prohibited under international law.

The right to life is the most important human right of all, and is a fundamental right of all living persons. Enforcement of the Philippine laws is your sworn duty. Police must apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force, and carry out their duties in a way that ensures full respect for human rights, among them the right to life, liberty and security of all persons

The unlawful and deliberate killing carried out by order of officials or with the state’s complicity or acquiescence is an extrajudicial killing and is a crime under international law. Your administration must investigate and prosecute allegations of extrajudicial executions.
We ask you:

• To condemn all extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings and call on law enforcement officials to abide strictly by international law and standards on the use of force;
• To ensure prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all reports of use of lethal force by the police, extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings;
• To ensure that those responsible are brought to justice through a fair trial process;
• To provide programs to rehabilitate drug addicts which is a proven way to stem illegal drug trafficking and usage.

In the loving spirit of the Christmas season, we thank you for your kind attention to these matter of grave importance to us and our people.

Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines (EANP) by Tim McGloin and Paul Bloom
Filipino American Human Rights Alliance – Chicago (FAHRA-Chicago) by Jerry Clarito and Juanita S. Burris, Co-Chairperson
Filipino American Human Rights Alliance – Los Angeles (FAHRA-LA) by Art Garcia
Filipino American Human Rights Alliance – San Francisco (FAHRA-SF) by Ago Pedalizo
Filipino Community Journalists of Chicago
Justice for Filipino-American Veterans (JFAV)
Mariano A. Santos, Member of the Knights of Rizal

https://web.facebook.com/ago.pedalizo/videos/10155937696504054/

https://web.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.facebook.com%2Fago.pedalizo%2Fvideos%2F10155937696504054%2F&show_text=0&width=560

 

[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)
Sulong CARHRIHL
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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[Appeal] An open letter to President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte on Death Penalty -ICJ

ICJ_logo_2013

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT RODRIGO DUTERTE

Rodrigo R. Duterte
President-Elect of the Republic of the Philippines

31 May 2016

Dear President-elect Duterte,

We are writing to you today to express our concern regarding your recent statements in support of reinstating the death penalty.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is a global organization of judges and lawyers. For the past 60 years, it has devoted itself to promoting the understanding and observance of the rule of law and the legal protection of human rights throughout the world.

The ICJ considers the imposition of the death penalty to be a violation of the right to life and the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Reinstating the death penalty would contravene international commitments that the Philippines has voluntarily entered into. It would also place the Philippines at odds with the repeated calls by the UN General Assembly for all states “to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty” and for those States which have abolished the death penalty, “not to reintroduce it”.[1]

Scientific research has failed to establish any significant impact of the death penalty on the incidence of crime. On the other hand, research indicates that improving crime detection and investigation, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system, and addressing underlying causes, is far more likely to reduce serious crime.

Obligations of the Philippines under international law

The Philippines is currently an example of global best practice on the abolition of the death penalty. It abolished the death penalty in 2006 and is the only ASEAN Member State that has ratified the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Under Article 1 of the 2nd Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, the Philippines is obliged not to execute any person within its jurisdiction.

The 2nd Optional Protocol to the ICCPR contains no provision on renunciation, and States may not unilaterally withdraw from their obligations under the Protocol.[2] The resumption of executions in the Philippines would therefore constitute a violation of international law and represent an alarming disregard for the international human rights system.

No evidence that death penalty deters crime

Your statements suggest that the intention to reinstate the death penalty is largely driven by the desire to reduce the occurrence of crime in the Philippines. We emphasize, however, that empirical evidence does not prove that the death penalty deters crime.

For instance, there is no proof that the death penalty deters crime at a greater rate than alternative forms of punishment,[3] and the overwhelming majority of criminologists believe that the death penalty does not provide an effective deterrent.[4]

Research also indicates that increasing the chances of actually being caught and punished can be effective in deterring criminal conduct.[5] Individuals are less likely to commit crimes when there is a high probability of actually being subjected to criminal sanctions.[6] Thus, heightened enforcement efforts that are highly visible send a clearer message to potential criminals.[7] Indeed, multiple studies demonstrate that an increased likelihood of punishment is directly associated with a decrease in crime.[8]

Based on the scientific research, then, reinstituting the death penalty in the Philippines is unproven and unlikely to have any real impact on the incidence of serious crime in the country. On the other hand, investing in improved detection and investigation techniques and capacity, and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system, is more likely to achieve real results in reducing crime.

We strongly urge that, in lieu of reinstating the death penalty, the Government of the Philippines should focus more on effective, evidence-based approaches to crime prevention. Policies and legislation that address the underlying social and economic causes of criminal activity are also vital to ensuring stability and the rule of law.

We note that there have already been initiatives in the past that, if given strong support and adequate resources, may be effective in deterring crime. For instance, the Philippine National Police has, in the past, established constructive law enforcement policies through initiatives such as the Community-Oriented Policing System, which emphasized comprehensive policing, data-driven solutions and community engagement.[9]

Reinstating capital punishment in the Philippines would constitute a huge setback not only for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country, but also for the Philippines internationally.

As mentioned above, the Philippines has in recent years shown how strong leadership and political will can be instrumental in abolishing the death penalty. The Philippines can today rightfully claim and be presented internationally and regionally as an example of global best practice in the abolition of the death penalty.

Needlessly reversing course and losing this leading role is unlikely to have any significant impact on reducing crime in the Philippines, but it will adversely affect the Philippines’ standing in the world.

We therefore hope that, under your presidency, the same strength of leadership can be applied in maintaining the current prohibition of the death penalty, and instead preventing crime in a manner that conforms to international human rights law and standards.

Very truly yours,

Sam Zarifi
Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific
International Commission of Jurists

For questions and clarifications, please contact Ms. Emerlynne Gil, Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia, tel. no. +662 619 8477 or emerlynne.gil@icj.org

———————–
[1] E.g. UN General Assembly Resolution 69/186 (18 December 2014), articles 5(f) and 6.
[2] United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights: The Human Rights Committee, Fact Sheet No. 15 (Rev. 1), 10 (May 2005), http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet15rev.1en.pdf.
[3] See National Research Council, Deterrence and the Death Penalty 2-3 (D. S. Nagin & J. V. Pepper eds., 2012), https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/files/1529-nagin-full-reportpdf.
[4] Michael L. Radelet & Traci L. Lacock, Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates: The Views of Leading Criminologists’, 99 J. of L. and Criminology 489, 501(2009), http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7323&context=jclc.
[5] Valerie Wright, The Sentencing Project, Deterrence in Criminal Justice: Evaluating Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment 1 (2010), http://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Deterrence-in-Criminal-Justice.pdf.
[6] Id. at 4.
[7] Id. at 3-5.
[8] Id. at 4.
[9] Miguel Coronel, The Philippine Strategy and Best Practice for Crime Prevention: Community-Oriented Policing System, in Strategies and Best Practices in Crime Prevention in Particular Relation to Urban Areas and Youth at Risk: Proceedings of the Workshop Held at the 11th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice 80-85 (Margaret Shaw & Kathryn Travers eds., 2005), http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Strategies_and_Best_Practices_in_Crime_Prevention_urban_Areas_and_Youth_at_Risk_ANG.pdf.

[Appeal] An Open Letter to PLATTS Global Energy Awards -Bantay Kita – Publish What You Pay Philippines

Semirara Mining and Power Corporation’s CSR project in Semirara Island has been nominated in a global award-giving body known as the energy sector’s Oscars.

It is in our firm belief that SMPC does not deserve the nomination for the reasons we cited in the open letter below. We strongly encourage everyone to share this to your respective networks until it reaches Platts. Your support will truly be appreciated.

Bantay Kita – Publish What You Pay Philippines

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[Appeal] Urgent call to resolve the recurring violation of the Lumad children’s right to education among Children in Situations with Armed Conflict -NGO Coalition CRC

An open letter to the President of the Philippines

HIS EXCELLENCY BENIGNO ‘NOYNOY’ AQUINO III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace

Dear President Aquino,

The Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (NGO Coalition CRC) joins the urgent call to resolve the recurring violation of the Lumad children’s right to education among Children in Situations with Armed Conflict (CSAC) as enshrined in the United Nations on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Twenty-five years ago, the Philippine government ratified the CRC. As State Party to the Convention, the Philippine government reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN Committee) on its progress of implementation, gaps and achievements. The UN Committee provides recommendations after the review of the state report and published these as their ‘Concluding Observations.’ The recent Concluding Observations (2009) on the Philippines significantly cited the issue of lack of schools for indigenous communities and of teachers.

The Lumad people, with some support from church groups and various non-governmental organizations, set up schools to fill this gap.

However, the Children’s Rehabilitation Center has documented cases of attacks and/or use of public places (Barangay Halls, health centers and places of worship) for other purposes near these schools by state and non-state actors; thus, violating children and people’s rights. From July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2014, 52 cases were documented, directly affecting 2,697 children, as reported by the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns. Among the schools noted as targets were: the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Early Childhood Education School in Kalasagan, Davao Oriental; Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in Compostela Town, Compostela Valley Province Province; Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center and Nasilaban Elementary School (a DepEd school) in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

Child rights organizations were able to document the following violations:

– attack on schools, religious, medical and in public places;
– and similar threats against child rights defenders and civil society support groups
Various indigenous communities in the abovementioned areas and the NGOs assisting them have expressed outrage and indignation over the violence launched in Lumad schools, and have called for the immediate cessation of these abuses/harms to protect the children and uphold their right to education.

Lumad children themselves have implored you, Mr. President, to protect their schools from harassment allegedly perpetrated by government forces, as reported in the Philippine Star on 12 October 2015, and their voices need to be heard.

Civil society initiatives in support of education for indigenous communities should be recognized by the government as a major contribution, and these efforts must be fully promoted and protected.

As a signatory to the CRC, the Philippine government has the responsibility to uphold, fulfill, respect and protect the rights of all Filipino children. Articles 28 and 36 specifically articulate the children’s right to education and their protection from any activity that could harm their welfare and development. Any aggression aimed at schools is a clear violation of the CRC. The UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, has underscored that schools and hospitals are zones of peace and any attack on these establishments is considered a grave violation and must be immediately arrested.
General Comment No. 1: The Aims of Education, adopted by the UN Committee highlights the role of the State in the child’s development, which includes “respect for human rights” and “an enhanced sense of identity and affiliation.”

In a statement on the issue of Lumad killings, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has also asserted state responsibility “where persons acting in behalf of the State commit some actionable wrong, and the State hesitates about acting or, worse, refuses to act.”

In solidarity with these principles, the Coalition urges the following courses of action:
– Uphold international and national laws that promote and protect child rights while addressing the gaps that these issues have magnified; among them, the need for a policy that explicitly demands the outright ban on military operations in schools in place of the existing Department of Education (DepEd) Memorandum 221 on the Guidelines on the Protection of Children During Armed Conflict issued in 2013; and the implementation of Republic Act. No. 8731 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) in view of violations linked to development projects that allow mining and logging on ancestral lands.

– Immediately pull out military operations in affected areas and hold people who aggress against schools accountable for their offenses;
– Provide for the basic needs and extend psychosocial support to families who have fled their homes due to the violence in their communities and ensure their safe return to their ancestral lands;
– Provide access to education in far flung areas, where many children from indigenous communities reside;
– Sign the Safe Schools Declaration, a document which shows the commitment of countries to support the protection of students, teachers, and schools during times of armed conflict; and
– Ensure that the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use During Armed Conflict are followed.

We trust that the President, in the interest of human rights and good governance, will lead the way in compliance to this obligation.

Very truly yours,

Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child(NGO Coalition CRC)

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[Statement] Joint Letter to Senator Lindsey Graham from Clergy, Civil Society, and Advocacy Groups -HRW

Below is the letter Human Rights Watch and several other NGOs/CSOs sent to US Senator Lindsey Graham of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging the Senate to retain the restrictions on US military aid to the Philippines Army due to continuing human rights abuses and impunity in the Philippines.

Human Rights Watch

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Joint Letter to Senator Lindsey Graham from Clergy, Civil Society, and Advocacy Groups

Senator Lindsey Graham
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
July 1, 2015

Re: Human rights concerns in the Philippines

Dear Senator Graham,

We, the undersigned members of civil society groups, advocacy organizations, and clergy, are writing in the context of the Senate’s current mark-up of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill to urge you to retain key provisions from past legislation restricting military funding to the Philippines.

200px-Hrw_logo.svg

As you know, every appropriations bill since 2008 has imposed a restriction on foreign military financing to the Philippines because of its military’s alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings, commonly known in the Philippines as EJKs. The most recent restriction places limits on assistance to the Philippine Army while allowing assistance to the Navy. These limits can be lifted if the Secretary of State certifies that the Philippine government is achieving sufficient progress on addressing EJKs.

The Philippines restriction has been at least a partially effective incentive. In response to this conditionality, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III began taking the EJK issue more seriously and since 2013 has indicted and begun prosecuting a small number of suspected perpetrators, including a high-profile case involving retired Army general Jovito Palparan, who was accused in several enforced disappearances in 2006. Palparan was finally arrested last year.

However, the Philippines’ response so far has been insufficient. EJKs and other violent abuses implicating members of the security forces remain a serious problem. In the context of counterinsurgency operations against the communist New People’s Army (NPA), who themselves are responsible for serious abuses, members of the armed forces and paramilitary forces have been responsible for numerous unlawful attacks on activists, human rights defenders, priests and other church workers, and labor organizers. In recent years, environmental activists and tribal leaders have also been targets of assault.

Outside of the context of counterinsurgency, security force personnel have also been responsible for killings of politicians and political workers involved in local disputes and journalists reporting on corruption and other criminality.

The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks the Philippines as the third most dangerous place for journalists in the world after Syria and Iraq. While the perpetrators of these crimes and the motives are often unknown, in many instances there are credible allegations of government forces’ complicity. According to the International Federation of Journalists, 36 journalists have been killed since President Aquino took office in 2010—the latest a shooting just last week of CNN Philippines cameraman Jonathan Oldan. In many cases, journalists have been killed after receiving threats from people believed to be linked with the Philippine security forces or local government officials.

Recent killings demonstrate the problem is ongoing. On June 25, Ricky Basig, a survivor of Typhoon Pablo turned environmental activist, was fatally shot in his home on the southern island of Mindanao; Philippine military had in recent statements branded him an NPA member because of his advocacy work. Other cases in recent months include an incident in which military personnel were alleged to have killed four peasant leaders in the Davao Region, also in southern Mindanao. In late May, a land rights defender and his wife were shot and killed in Negros Oriental, in central Philippines, after threats by military forces stationed in the area. The military typically denies involvement in such attacks, even when there is strong evidence pointing to the involvement of military personnel.

The State Department’s most recent Human Rights Country Report on the Philippines highlighted this continuing human rights challenge, noting that the Philippines “most significant human rights problems continued to be extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances undertaken by security forces and suspected vigilante groups.” It cited the case of activist and human rights defender William Bugatti, who was shot and killed on March 25, 2014 in Ifugao province, allegedly by soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 86th Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division.

Although the Philippine Department of Justice has taken action in some cases, the government’s overall record in investigating and prosecuting serious human rights violations by the security forces has been extremely disappointing. According to police records, since 2001 there have been only two convictions in extrajudicial killings, and no senior officials have been among those convicted, only gunmen. To our knowledge, the vast majority of alleged EJK cases are either uninvestigated or are supposedly still under investigation. Simply put, the Philippine government needs to do a lot more to satisfy the existing legislation’s requirements.

To lift the current restrictions now would be sending the wrong message to the Philippine government: that the US is unconcerned by serious continuing rights abuses by the Philippine Army and that the Army should no longer be treated as the abusive force that it continues to be.

Lifting the restrictions is also strategically unnecessary: the current, well-tailored restriction focuses entirely on the Philippine Army, while the bulk of assistance requested by the Pentagon would be directed at the Philippine Navy.

We urge you to leave the conditions in place in the appropriations bill to serve as a continuing incentive for the Aquino administration to address this serious human rights issue.

Sincerely,

Scott Wright
Director
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Missionary Society of St. Columban (Catholic Church)

Terrence Valen
President
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns

John Sifton
Advocacy Director for Asia
Human Rights Watch

Rev. Fr. Primitivo C. Raimondo
St. Margaret of Scotland Episcopal Church
Chicago, IL

Richard and Eunice Poethig, Fraternal Workers
United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Presbyterian Church USA
Chicago, IL

Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua
Philippine American Ecumenical Church, UCC
Chicago, IL

Yves Nibungco
National Chairperson
Anakbayan USA: Filipino Youth & Students for National Democracy in the Philippines

Jackelyn Mariano
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
New York, NY

Helene Lustan
Philippine U.S. Solidarity Organization
Seattle, WA

Milegua F. Layese, Coordinator
Philippine Study Group of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN

Mark W. Harrison
Director, Peace with Justice Program
United Methodist General Board of Church and Society

Judy Gearhart
Executive Director
International Labor Rights Forum

Rev. Dr. Mary Susan Gast
National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns
Benicia, CA

Haniel R. Garibay
National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists
Washington, DC

Bernadette Ellorin
Bayan USA
New York, NY

Paul R. Bloom, PhD
Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines
St. Paul, MN

Nerissa N. Allegretti
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns – Midwest
Chicago, Il

Katrina Abarcar Katarungan
Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines Washington, DC

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[Appeal] Thailand: Drop all charges against 16 student human rights defenders

 

OPEN LETTER

Attn:
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha
Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)
Government House
Pitsanulok Road,
Dusit, Bangkok 10300, Thailand

Gen. Somyot Pumpanmuang
Royal Thai Police Commissioner-General
Royal Thai Police
Floor 7, Building 1, Rama 1 Road,

Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

Chief of Judge Advocate General
The Judge Advocate General’s Office
Government Building

Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, Building 4, Chaeng Wattana Road,

Lak Si, Bangkok 10210, Thailand +66 2 575 6327

Subject: Drop all charges against 16 human rights defenders

Dear General Chan-ocha, General Pumpanmuang and Chief of Judge Advocate General,

We, the undersigned human rights organisations, write to you regarding the charges against 16 student and allied activists (7 from the Dao Din student group based at Khon Kaen University, and 9 from Bangkok), 14 of whom were detained from 26th June to 8th July 2015 in Bangkok. These 16 students have been charged for their role in peaceful public assemblies on 22 nd May 2015 commemorating the first-year anniversary of the May 2014 military coup.

The 14 who were detained for 12 days are facing additional sedition charges, which were used on 26th June 2015 to arrest them. These 14 students from the Neo-Democracy Movement were taken to Bangkok Military Court around midnight on 26th June 2015, when the Military Court granted the Royal Thai Police’s request for pre-trial detention ro a 12 day period. The 14 students are being held in the Bangkok Remand Prison and the Central Women’s Correctional Institution. The same Bangkok Military Court rejected the

Royal Thai Police’s request to extend the pre-trial detention on 7th July 2015. The 14 were released 24 hours after the decision on 8th July 2015, but they are still facing all the charges filed against them.

The 14 who were detained for 12 days include 7 members of a Khon Kaen-based student group: Mr. Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Mr. Apiwat Suntararak, Mr. Payu Boonsopon, Mr. Panupong Srithananuwat, Mr. Suvicha Tipangkorn, Mr. Supachai Pukrongploy and Mr. Wassant Saetsit. All were initially arrested on 22nd May 2015 when they staged a peaceful protest in Khon Kaen against the effects of military rule on community rights, human rights and the poor in northeast Thailand. They were granted bail after having been charged by Khon Kaen Military Court for violating Order No. 3/2558 (3/2015) issued by the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Similarly, the 7 Bangkok-based university students and allies – Mr. Rattapol Supasupon, Mr. Rangsiman Rome, Mr. Songtham Kaewpanpruk, Ms. Chonthicha Jaengraew, Mr. Apisit

Sapnapaphan, Mr. Pakorn Areekul, and Mr. Pornchai Yuanyee – staged a peaceful protest in central Bangkok on 22nd May 2015, have been charged with violating NCPO Order 3/2558. The sedition charges for all 14 students, under Section 116 of the Thai Penal

Code, follow the students’ peaceful demonstrations against your military government in Bangkok on 24th June and 25th June 2015.

We condemn the use and existence of Order 3/2558, because this order invokes all NCPO Orders issued between 22nd May 2014 and 1st April 2015, which have effectively suspended all civil and political rights and fundamental freedoms on unjustifiable grounds of “national security.” Article 116 of the Thai Penal Code is a severe and unacceptable restriction on freedom of speech which is used to criminalise political activists.

Order 3/2558, issued by virtue of Article 44 of the Interim Constitution 2557 B.E., gives sweeping powers and provides blanket immunity to your military government. It allows the militarization of all law- enforcement and state operations. For example, this Order enables the continued use of military courts and military personnel to carry out measures under the Criminal Procedure Code. Furthermore, officials exercising duties under this Order enjoy full immunity from both disciplinary and criminal justice procedures.

The use of military courts to try civilians is a blatant violation of international fair trial rights, as guaranteed by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand ratified in 1996, and is legally bound to implement. Article 14, Paragraph 1, enshrines the principle of trials being conducted by a “competent, independent and impartial tribunal.” This principle is violated by the use of military courts to try civilians; especially when the military controls all branches of state power, including the executive, legislative, and now, judicial branches. Article 14, Paragraph 5, explicitly guarantees the right to judicial review of any conviction and sentence by a higher court, which is a right denied to anyone tried in a military court in Thailand.

Furthermore, we decry the harassment and intimidation of the students and allies’ groups. The ICCPR imposes legally-binding obligations on State Parties to respect a number of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression (Article 19) and the right to peaceful assembly (Article 21).

We also call your attention to Article 17 of the ICCPR which guarantees the right to protection from “arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, [and] to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.” State authorities stand in direct violation of this right as they have carried out a constant campaign of intimidation and harassment of the students’ affinity groups. Uniformed officials (both police and military) have been photographing the students’ parents houses; authorities have been questioning parents on the upbringing of their children; Khon Kaen University has been pressured to call all the students’ parents in for a meeting where authorities lectured the parents on 11th June 2015; and soldiers, police and other authorities have been threatening repercussions if community-based Human Rights Defenders associate with the Dao Din student group again.

Finally, your Orders as head of the NCPO violate the rights and freedoms guaranteed by international human rights law, which continues to apply to Thailand under the Interim Constitution. Most directly, Article 25 of the ICCPR enshrines the right to participate in public affairs for people. The suspension of elections, community rights, community participation in environmental and natural resource management policy are all violations of Article 25. The absolute power you hold, as per Article 44 of the Interim Constitution, effectively guts this right.

The students and allies’ commemorative activities on the 22nd May 2015 and their pro-democracy demonstrations on 24th June and 25 th June 2015, expressed their opposition to these systematic and institutional violations of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It must be underlined that Article 19 of the ICCPR also guarantees the right to hold any opinion and express it by any media. Thus, students have throughout all their activities been peacefully exercising their own human rights and fundamental freedoms to decry your military government’s violations of the Thai people’s human rights. The legal persecution of these students and allies, and the authorities’ harassment of the students’ affinity groups are direct breaches of international human rights law. If these charges are pressed on against students and allies and the military court declares them guilty, they would be political prisoners of your repressive regime.

These civic-minded students and allies, and all community-based Human Rights Defenders they work with, deserve recognition, not criminalisation. Socially-conscious individuals, especially youth, who engage in peaceful actions to promote human rights are essential to an open and democratic society and contribute to social justice.

Therefore, we urge you to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges and end all legal proceedings against the 16 students and allies;

2. Immediately stop the harassment of the students and allies’ lawyers by authorities;

3. Stop all harassment and intimidation of the students and allies’ affinity groups, including the students’ family members, fellow students, friendship groups, community-based support groups, citizen journalists, and academics;

4. Immediately revoke all NCPO Orders and Article 44 of the Interim Constitution and promptly return all executive and legislative branches of state power to democratically elected civilians.

Signed:

1. ALIRAN (Malaysia)
2. Article 19

3. Arus Pelangi (Indonesia)
4. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR, ASEAN)
5. ASEAN Youth Forum (ASEAN)

6. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (Burma/Myanmar)

7. Arakan Observer Group (Arakan, Burma)

8. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress (AASYC, Arakan, Burma)

9. Australian Burmese Rohingya Association (ABRA, Australia)

10. Australia Asia Worker Links (Australia)

11. Australian Unions (ACTU, Australia)

12. Cambodian Human Rights and Development (ADHOC, Cambodia)

13. Centre for Development Resources (CENFORD, Vietnam)

14. Cross-Cultural Foundation (Thailand)
15. Committee for Asian Women and Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (Malaysia)

16. De Nieuwe Universiteit (The Netherlands)

17. Democratic Commission for Human Development (Pakistan)

18. Focus on the Global South

19. Foundation for Media Alternatives( Philippines )
20. Globalization Monitor

21. INSTITUT PEREMPUAN ,Women ‘s Institute ( Indonesia )

22. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section (KLSCAHYS, Malaysia)
23. Malaysia Support Group for democracy in Thailand (Malaysia)

24. Malaysian against Death Penalty & Torture (Malaysia)

25. Malaysian Youth and Students’ Democratic Movement (DEMA, Malaysia)

26. Migrante International

27. Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization (MERHROM, Malaysia)
28. National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (Sri Lanka)

29. National Free Trade Union (Sri Lanka)

30. North South Initiative

31. Socialist Party of Malaysia (Malaysia)

32. Southeast Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN (ASEAN)

33. Pax Romana ICMICA Asia

34. Pax Romana International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Asia Pacific

35. People Like Us Satu Hati (PLUSH, Yogyakarta, Indonesia)

36. People’s Empowerment Foundation (Thailand)

37. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Malaysia)

38. Protection International

39. Rohingya American Society (RARS, Milwaukee, USA)
40. Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee (RARC, Malaysia)

41. Rohingya Concern International (RCI, New York, USA)
42. Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF, Arakan, Burma)

43. Think Centre (Singapore)

44. Vietnamese Women for Human Rights (Vietnam)
45. Worker Hub for Change (Malaysia)

Individual endorsements

1. David Anthony

2. David Suber, co-President of the Students Union of the London School of Oriental and African Studies (United Kingdom)

3. Jonelle Twum, supporter from Sweden
4. K Aingkaran, Attorney-at-Law, supporter from Sri Lanka

5. Niza Concepcion, supporter from the Philippines
6. Dr. Paiboon Hengsuwan, Lecturer of Department of Women’s Studies, Faculty of

Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University (Thailand)

7. Rahmayana Fitri, Leader of Youth Development at The Leader and Peace activist in Aceh (Indonesia)

8. Dr. Ronald McCoy, Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility (Malaysia)

9. Shruti Upadhyay

10. S.K. Priya, 110 Law Chambers (India)

11. William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Defender and Freelance Journalist (United Kingdom)

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[Call for endorsement] Asia Pacific Civil Society’s Demands for the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

Unity Statement

Asia Pacific Civil Society’s Demands for the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

This statement originates from the Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, May 1-3, 2015 Chiang Mai, Thailand, co-convened by the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD)

WE, the undersigned members of Asia Pacific civil society, representing different constituencies, movements and organisations, recognize, experience, and resist the human rights violations committed by transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business entities.

We strongly protest the impact of direct and indirect violations by TNCs and other business entities, which destroy lives, cultures, livelihoods, the environment, and profoundly affect women, children, peasants, workers, and indigenous peoples.

We welcome UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/91, which mandates an intergovernmental working group to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

We collectively unite to demand corporate accountability for human rights violations and to redress the grave imbalance between corporate power and the power of people.

We strongly demand that our governments protect, respect and fulfil human rights and commit to enact effective laws for corporate accountability. We encourage all governments to actively participate in the development of a legally binding treaty on business and human rights in the UN Human Rights Council.

As peoples and CSOs, we demand an end to the human rights violations perpetrated with impunity by TNCs and other business entities, often with the complicity or inaction of States.

We make the following demands for a legally binding treaty:

  • The adoption of an expansive definition of transnational corporations which encompasses parent companies, subsidiaries and contractors and ensures comprehensive supply chain accountability.
  • No corporate participation in the process of elaborating and adopting the treaty. The private sector has actively resisted legal accountability for the impact of its actions and
  • The inclusion of a provision that explicitly prohibits corporate capture of political processes, including collusion and complicity between governments and corporate actors. At a minimum, this should take the form of a requirement that there is no conflict of interest in government approval of corporate sector projects;
  • The inclusion of a provision requiring transparency and financial disclosure from transnational corporations that should be made available to the public consistent with the public right to access information regarding private operations that have public impact, including for projects financed by international financial institutions;
  • An end to impunity for the human rights violations caused by transnational corporations, including but not limited to providing for criminal liability for corporations, their employees, and governments and public officials complicit in the unlawful activity of transnational corporations;
  • Accountability for the direct, indirect, short-term and long-term impacts of corporate activity, including remote, “down-stream”, or cumulative negative impacts;
  • Affirmation of the primacy of governments’ human rights obligations under the UN Charter and international treaties and customary laws over obligations in trade and investment agreements.
  • A rejection of coercive enforcement mechanisms under trade and investment agreements which are incompatible with the human rights obligations of governments, including Investor-State Dispute Settlement.
  • Provisions should be progressive and ensure no regression from existing international human rights standards, including core ILO Conventions and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which recognizes the entitlement of women to substantive equality with men;
  • The inclusion of provisions recognizing the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) as a corollary of their internationally-recognized right to selfdetermination; for non-indigenous peoples, consent must be secured through a direct and participatory process of consultation that respects the right to participation.
  • An explicit prohibition of government or corporate retaliation against human rights defenders, in line with the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, including through the suppression of protests, surveillance, and other forms of intimidation and harm, noting the specific vulnerabilities of women human rights defenders, which requires sensitivity to the particular pressures and challenges that they face including sexual harassment and intimidation and criminalisation.”
  • An explicit prohibition of the use of State security, military or paramilitary forces to secure corporate projects.
  • The establishment of an international tribunal or mechanism to receive, investigate, and adjudicate complaints of human rights violations committed by TNCs. The decisions of this mechanism should be based on the obligations of governments and businesses in relation to international human rights standards and gender equality and should be legally binding.

Agreed on by the undersigned members of Asia Pacific civil society.

Endorsed by:

SENTRO ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, Philippines

Tebtebba – Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education,
Philippines

International Rivers, International

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Philippines

Asha Parivar, India

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India

Socialist Party of India

National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Sri Lanka

Citizen News Service (CNS), India

IBON International, International

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Thailand

Pesticide Action Network- Asia and the Pacific (PANAP), Malaysia

Community Resource Centre (CRC), Thailand

The Philippinne Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippines

Indonesia for Global Justice, Indonesia

Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), Cambodia

POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), India

Tavoyan Women’s Union, Cambodia

Solidaritus Perempuan (SP), Indonesia

Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women), Philippines

Tanggol Kalikasan, Philippines

Center for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia

Shwe Gas Movement (SGM), Cambodia

Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Leitana Neihan Women’s Development Agency (LNWDA), Papua New Guinea

The online endorsement form is available here:

http://eepurl.com/bqUgqz

as well as here:

Unity Statement: Asia Pacific Civil Society’s Demands for the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

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[Appeal] Civil Society’s Concerns on Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) Must Be Adequately Addressed -ANNI

27 May 2015

President Benigno S. Aquino III
Presidential Communications Operations Office
3/F New Executive Building (NEB), Malacañang Compound Email: op@president.gov.ph

Dear Mr. President,

Re: Civil Society’s Concerns on Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) Must Be Adequately Addressed

The Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) writes to you to convey several deep-seated concerns ahead of the appointment of the 5th Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP).

Firstly, the ANNI is alarmed at the legitimacy crisis that has plagued the CHRP over the last two years (2013-2015), which has negatively impacted the public standing and confidence in the institution as well as demoralized the staff members of the CHRP.

According to credible monitoring reports received from Philippine human rights organizations, the “crisis” most recently culminated in hasty appointment of Executive Director Atty. Marc Titus B. Cebreros, which was in clear violation of established rules of procedures pertaining to hiring/promotion, including the CHRP’s own pertinent processes. This follows the dismissal of Commissioner Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing after being found guilty of administrative charges in 2014, and on-going investigations by the Ombudsman into alleged misconduct of another Commissioner.

We further wish to call your attention to the recurring recommendations made by the International Coordinating Committee’s Sub-Committee on Accreditation (ICC-SCA) in relation to the selection and appointment process of the CHRP’s governing body. ANNI similarly echoes the concerns of the ICC-SCA, and is dismayed that no positive changes or measures have been observed since 2007 despite retaining its A status.

Hence, it is against such a backdrop that the ANNI appeals to you to ensure the formalization of a robust, transparent and participatory appointment and selection process that involves key stakeholders on the ground such as human rights defenders (HRDs) and victims of rights abuses.

ANNI is given to understand a nomination and endorsement of candidates into the 5th CHRP were made by civil society for your consideration. However, such modalities and procedures must be formally instituted to safeguard the real and perceived independence of the CHRP, ensure good governance of an NHRI and foster a sense of national ownership of the institution.

In that regard, ANNI stresses that the draft revised founding law, currently under consideration by Parliament, must comprehensively address the glaring and recurring concerns relating to the following:

1. Mandate: Clarify and consolidate the existing powers and functions of the CHRP currently found in other domestic laws and Executive Orders;

2. Composition, Selection and Appointment: Formalize in legislation or appropriate regulation(s) and make public a clear and comprehensive process that promotes open and transparent merit-based selection;

3. Paris Principles-compliance both in Law and Practice: Respond in a comprehensive and timely manner to chronic and endemic human rights violations in the country, and to ensure that actions taken address these issues at an institutional level and are undergirded by a systemic, long-term and follow-up plan.

The ANNI urges the government of Philippines to take decisive and measurable steps to repair the severe legitimacy deficit of the CHRP, as well as to ensure that the 5th CHRP institutionalizes its relationship with HRDs and is a discerning partner in the national human rights protection system.

Thank you for your kind attention and we hope to hear favorably from you.

Yours sincerely,

Mukunda Kattel
Director
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA),
Secretariat of ANNI

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[Appeal] Enhance the International Legal Framework to Protect Human Rights from Corporate Abuse -Treaty Alliance

Join the movement of hundreds of groups around the world calling for a binding international treaty to address corporate human rights abuses!

SIGN THE STATEMENT here http://www.treatymovement.com/sign-on

Enhance the International Legal Framework to Protect Human Rights from Corporate Abuse

We, the signatories to this joint statement,

Welcome the establishment at the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council of the “open-ended intergovernmental working group on a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, the mandate of which shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises” (res 26/9). We call on all civil society organizations and States to actively and constructively participate in this process.

Treaty Website Logo 2

We are convinced of the need to enhance the international legal framework to protect human rights in the context of business operations. We are also mindful of the urgent need to improve access to justice, remedy and reparations for victims and to stop corporate human rights abuses. The treaty process complements other instruments and initiatives in the field of business and human rights.

On the process and participation of States and civil society

There is a large and growing group of human rights organizations, social movements, affected communities and other civil society organizations involved in this process. The strong mobilization at the time of the Human Rights Council decision to start this process gathered more than 600 signatures (from at least 90 countries) in support of a Joint Statement and ensured the presence of numerous national and international organizations in Geneva in June 2014.

With regard to the procedures to be followed by the Intergovernmental Working Group, it is important from the outset that the ground rules ensure full transparency and enable a participative process towards the elaboration of this legally binding instrument.

The process of elaboration of the prospective treaty should address the needs and realities of people and communities whose human rights have been infringed, or are being threatened, by corporate conduct.

We call on all States to actively participate in good-faith and constructively in the development of this treaty. States and the IGWG should safeguard their integrity from undue influence by actors from or related to the private sector whose primary interest in the process falls outside the objective of promotion and protection of human rights.

The existing rules for the participation of observers with ECOSOC status in the Intergovernmental Working Group should be applied. Special attention should be given to the participation of representatives from communities and organizations of people affected by transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

On the format, scope and content of the treaty

We reaffirm the content of the Treaty Alliance’s Joint Statement adopted prior to the decision of the Human Rights Council of June 2014. A new phase starts now with the establishment of the open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group and the preparations for its first session on 6-10 July 2015. With a view to achieving meaningful progress at this session, we consider that the following elements must be discussed:

a) The treaty should require States to adopt legislation and other measures requiring TNCs and other business enterprises to adopt policies and procedures aimed at preventing, stopping and redressing adverse human rights impacts wherever they operate or cooperate. These measures should also cover business operations and relationships taking place in countries other than the countries where the business may be domiciled or headquartered. Companies should be subjected to appropriate sanctions for their failure to adopt such policies and procedures.

b) The treaty should clarify the kind of company conduct that will give rise to legal liability (civil, criminal and administrative). Through this international instrument, States will have the obligation to translate these standards into national legislation and enforce them. Offences committed against the environment and impacting adversely human rights should be included. Provisions for international legal and judicial cooperation among countries should facilitate the investigation and trial of cases of transnational nature.

c) The treaty should elaborate on the modalities in which TNCs and other business enterprises participate in the commission of human rights abuses, including corporate complicity and parent company responsibility for the offences committed by its subsidiary. Corporate legal responsibility should not exclude the legal responsibility of company directors or managers.

d) The treaty should allow people with a claim access to judicial remedies not only in their own home States, but in all other States that have jurisdiction over the concerned business enterprise. The jurisdiction of national courts of these States should extend to deal with these cases separately and jointly, and effectively guarantee access to justice to the victims.

e) The treaty should provide for an international monitoring and accountability mechanism. A dedicated unit or centre within the United Nations may improve the international capacity for independent research and analysis and for monitoring the practices of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The needs and feasibility of a complementary international jurisdiction should be discussed.

f) The treaty should contain provisions requiring States to respect, protect and facilitate the work of human rights defenders and whistle-blowers. The right to access to information of public importance and relevant to cases of business-related abuse should be guaranteed.

We consider that during the sessions of the IGWG there should be a full discussion about addressing businesses operating within a single State.

The enhancement of the international human rights system in relation to TNCs and other business enterprises is urgent and needed. We call on civil society organizations, social movements, affected communities and the public to actively promote locally, nationally and internationally the public debate around this process and mobilize for this treaty.

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[Petition] Never Forget Mary Jane Veloso: Our Fight for Clemency #grasiuntukmaryjane -ASEAN Youth Forum

Never Forget Mary Jane Veloso: Our Fight for Clemency #grasiuntukmaryjane

Ramadan clemency for Maryjane

Dear all,

The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) started a campaign a few weeks ago in need of support to ask President Joko Widodo to grant grasi or clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, Filipina migrant on death row yet is now proven victim of the drug trafficking ring in the region, during or after Ramadhan.

To support and sign a petition, please visit: Ramadan Clemency for Mary Jane Veloso #grasiuntukmaryjane

Sign petition @www.change.org

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[Appeal] Free Apung Tony Tolentino, Protect Human Rights Defenders!

Free Apung Tony Tolentino, Protect Human Rights Defenders!

Vote for this campaign for the 5th HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards

free apung tony 4 copy

Apung Tony Tolentino, a barangay chairperson of Brgy. Hacienda Dolores, in Porac, Pampanga is accused of crimes. And what crime? He lead the fight with farmers in their right to land against private land developer, he defended and sacrificed for others who would not let the truth die with them. Apung Tony was arrested due to trumped up charges filed by private land developer and detained since April 16, 2014.

Apung Tony believes that all cases filed against him are mere forms of harassment. He emphasized that the only purpose of him being arrested is to weaken the farmers’ resistance against land corporation.

Brgy. Chair Tolentino is also one of the leaders of Aniban ng Nakakaisang Mamamayan ng Hacienda Dolores (Aniban), a farmers group from Porac, Pampanga, claiming ownership of Hacienda Dolores by virtue of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

DISMISS ALL CASES FILED AGAINST APUNG TONY!
FREE APUNG TONY!
Protect Human Rights Defenders! ?#?ProtectHRD?
Uphold, assert and defend human rights!
Support the campaign! Please like and share.

Read full article and sign appeal @secure.avaaz.org

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Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Appeal] Sign on statement Appeal for Solidarity for the release of two (2) Agta women Marites Marquez and Rosario Loreto and against all illegal arrests and detention

Dear All

Pagbati sa araw ng kababaihan!

We, the undersigned seek for your solidarity for the release of two (2) Agta women Marites Marquez and Rosario Loreto and against all illegal arrests and detention. Join us, register your support by signing this statement by replying to this email, as we renew a more aggressive campaign against illegal arrests and detentions.

Free Lotero and Marquez copyJoin us as we call for the immediate release of Marquez and Loreto and demand that the practice of illegal arrests and detention be stopped. Perpetrators must be held accountable so that similar cases will not happen again to anyone.

Let Marquez and Loreto be the last victims of this habitual and irresponsible handling of authorities, especially the security sectors, of cases involving suspected insurgents. Release Marquez and Loreto and hold all those involved accountable.

You may also register your support through the following contact addresses:
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) tfdp.1974@gmail.com
Sulong CARHRIHL – seztinth@yahoo.com c/o seth
Medical Action Group (MAG) -eaparducho@gmail.com c/o Pards
Fr. Pete Montallana pinding2003@yahoo.com
https://www.facebook.com/TaskForceDetaineesofthePhilippines

————

Sign on statement
Appeal for Solidarity for the release of two (2) Agta women Marites Marquez and Rosario Loreto and against all illegal arrests and detention

In the morning of September 27, 2014, Marites Marquez, 43 and Rosario Loreto, 37, both Agtas, were illegally arrested by a group of military personnel and police who were all armed and wearing civilian clothes in Barangay Sta. Ines in Tanay, Rizal.

Marquez and Loreto were accused of kidnapping, robbery, and murder. Because of the black cloth tied around their necks, a traditional Agta sign of mourning for a dead relative, both were linked to the abduction of a retired military officer named Master Sergeant Lino Hernandez, allegedly by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Tinucan, Tanay, on September 26, 2014. According to witnesses, some NPA rebels also wear a black cloth around their necks, too.

Marquez and Loreto were interrogated for two days by the soldiers and the police, asked the same set of questions to make them admit their participation in the kidnapping of Master Sgt. Hernandez and to being NPA members.

Marquez and Loreto denied all allegations against them. Before they were arrested, both sold vegetables, did traditional gold panning, and did household chores for a living.

Marquez and Loreto are temporarily detained at the Rizal Police Provincial Office (RPO) lock-up cell at the Taytay Police Station. The charges with criminal case number 14-12346-M against Marquez and Loreto are filed at Morong Regional Trial Court Branch 80.

Acting on its power to review the decision of the prosecutors, the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) found procedural flaw in the filing of the case against Marquez and Loreto that violated their right to be secured in their person. The records showed that the arresting officers had no personal knowledge that the respondents committed the kidnapping and robbery which will justify the warrantless arrest.

Citing the Supreme Court ruling, the DOJ stated that, “if there is no showing that the person who effected the warrantless arrest had, in his own right knowledge of facts implicating the person arrested to the perpetration of a criminal offense, the arrest is legally objectionable.” The prosecutor failed to comply with its duty during inquest proceedings to first and foremost determine the legality of the arrest.

Accordingly, it was ordered that the case be returned to the office of origin for the conduct of reinvestigation and the prosecutor was directed to withdraw the information of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against the two Agta women.

Marquez and Loreto have been languishing in jail for five months now. The hearing for the motion to withdraw information and order the release of the respondents last February 10, 2015 was reset because the presiding Judge was absent due to some personal reason. It was reset to March 9, 2015.

Despite the favorable decision from the Secretary of Justice, there is still no guarantee that the two Agta women will be released any time soon. Let the legal matter takes its course, but let us demand that they be released immediately, since first and foremost, their arrest was illegal. Let our loud voices be heard in pressuring concerned government agencies for the immediate release of Marquez and Loreto.

It is true that everything will depend on the discretion of the judge, whether to immediately issue a resolution granting the motion to withdraw information and order release of the detainees, or not act on the DOJ’s order. The latter may be justified by saying that the court is not bound by the findings of the Secretary of Justice. But, as long as Marquez and Loreto are detained, they are at risk of suffering the same fate as the others who have been alleged and accused to be members of rebel groups. There have been cases of torture and violation of the right to due process and equal protection under the law, which have victimized innocent civilians belonging to the marginalized sectors. There were documented cases of mistaken identities and human rights violations against them. Worse, no perpetrators have been brought to justice.

The case of Marquez and Loreto brings back to mind what happened to the Morong 43, where it took several months before the court issued an order of release despite the resolution of the Secretary of Justice to withdraw the information.

We appeal for solidarity. Join us as we renew a more aggressive campaign against illegal arrests and detentions. Call for the immediate release of Marquez and Loreto and demand that the practice of illegal arrests and detention be stopped. Perpetrators must be held accountable so that similar cases will not happen again to anyone.

Let Marquez and Loreto be the last victims of this habitual and irresponsible handling of authorities, especially the security sectors, of cases involving suspected insurgents. Release Marquez and Loreto and hold all those involved accountable.

FREE MARITES MARQUEZ AND ROSARIO LORETO! FREE ALL POLITICAL DETAINEES AND PRISONERS! STOP ILLEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTION!

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Sulong CARHRIHL
Medical Action Group (MAG)
Fr. Pete Montallana
SAGIBIN
LILAK Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights
XD Initiatives
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Your signature here (or name of organization)

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[Appeal] An Open Letter to Pope Francis -Ron De Vera/AFAD

An Open Letter to Pope Francis

Vote for this article for the 5th HR Pinduteros’ choice awards…

Dear Pope Francis,

¡Bienvenido a las Filipinas! Welcome to the Philippines! By now, I’m sure you’re already flooded with messages poured upon you by my fellow Filipinos. Thus, my voice will be just another amongst the crowd.

AFAD

My voice comes from a place of complex stories, identities, ideologies, and perspectives. I am an agnostic theist. I am gay. I am highly critical of how your church treats LGBT people and women. I am also highly critical of the Philippine government and of government as a general concept, whether applied to a state or to a religious group.

This is nothing random. I am all of these mostly because of what I have gone through. Just like Jesus, I grew up without a biological father. The difference is, Jesus was raised by Joseph and Mary, while I was single-handedly raised by my mother. The circumstances I was forced into cemented my views about my country’s government. You see, my father was a human rights activist. Just like Jesus, my father was very poor. He had no interest in self-enrichment. All he aspired for was to liberate other people from poverty. But he was taken away from me by the government without justifiable reason. As if to add insult to injury, he was abducted on fathers’ day.

The enforced disappearance of my father effectively turned my family into a “non-traditional family.” And this, given the conservative culture in the Philippines, is not an easy situation for a very young child. My circumstances were further complicated as I grew up trying to come to terms with my sexuality. In many ways, I am farthest from what may be traditionally considered a “good Christian.” There is, therefore, very little incentive for me to communicate with someone like you.

But today, I am writing you simply as a son who grew up without a father, a son of a desaparecido. I am writing you because I acknowledge the influence you hold. I am writing you because I know the phenomenon of enforced disappearance is something your country also struggled with. Finally, I am writing you because I believe you will listen.

My request is simple; please do everything in your power to convince our president to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearance (ICPAPED). It is an international treaty which is the fruit of the struggle of organizations like the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, and similar formations in various countries. It is an international agreement championed by the government of your country.

You have claimed time and again that you are pro-poor. My request, therefore, is aligned with your principles. How? In the Philippines, an overwhelming majority of victims of enforced disappearance come from basic sectors of society. Not only are poor people the most vulnerable to enforced disappearance, poor people are also driven deeper into poverty when a member of their family is forcefully ‘disappeared’ or abducted. Therefore, by helping us take steps towards ratifying the Convention, you are also helping the poor.

If you accommodate this request, I will not suddenly become heterosexual nor will I suddenly convert to Christianity. Besides, I know that your goodwill does not come with corresponding conditions. Yes, there will still be fundamental differences between our principles. I will continue to be critical of the government and the church hierarchy. I will continue to believe the love I celebrate with another man is not sinful. I will continue to be the many things I have always been.

However, I will forever be respectful of you as a fellow human being. I will forever admire your progressive leadership as head of the Roman Catholic Church. And most importantly, I will forever be proud of the fact that you and I have shared a moment in fighting for human rights.

Yours,

Ron de Vera
Country Coordinator for the Philippines
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

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[Appeal] Resolution Condemning the Brutal Murder of Rolando Pango and Requesting Concerned Government Authorities and Human Rights Organizations to Conduct Immediate Investigations of the incident- PM

Resolution Condemning the Brutal Murder of Rolando Pango
and Requesting Concerned Government Authorities and Human Rights Organizations to Conduct Immediate Investigations of the incident

Justice Rolando Pango

Justice Rolando Pango

The Partido Manggagawa (PM) Negros Chapter through a 3rd Provincial Congress resolution dated November 30, 2014STRONGLY CONDEMNED IN THE STRONGEST TERMS POSSIBLE THE BRUTAL MURDER of  Rolando Pango in Hacienda Garrason, Binalbagan, Negros Occidental.

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Rolando Pango is a Labor Leader in Brgy. Payao and Biao in Binalbagan town and a PM Organizer in Isabela and Binalbagan areas of the province.

Last November 29, 20014 after meeting PM farmworker-members, in preparation for Gat Andres Bonifacio Day activities, Kaupod Lando, accompanied by his cousin stoppedby Binalbagan town proper. Past 9:00 PM when they decided to go home by motorcycle but were blocked by another motorcycle rider and a black sedan at the crossing of Hacienda Garrason. Two unidentified armed men dragged Ka Lando and shot him on the head. His cousin was spared and heard one of the armed men said to Ka Lando,“kasabad sa imo, pati duta ginaentrahan mo”.

Kaupod Lando had organized the farmworkers of Hacienda Salud – a135 hectare sugarcane plantation in Barangay Rumirang, Isabela – leasedand managed by Manuel “Manolit” Lamata.

Last year, the  Farmworkers Association of Hacienda Salud through the aid of Ka Lando wrote the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to include the hacienda in the Carper Coverage.And in June 30, 2014, DAR issued a Notice of Coverage (NOC) for Compulsory Acquisition of hacienda that was owned by Pedro Garruchari.

September 2014 when Manolit Lamata together with several armed men went to Hacienda Salud and forced farmworkers to signed a blank white paper. The workers refused to sign and hid in order not to be forced to sign under duress.

As a result, more than 40 hacienda workers were summarily and illegally dismissedthe following month.  The workers viewed this as an injustice, that after more than 20 years of working in the Hacienda even before Manolit Lamata took over the leased property in1995 they were the original and regular workers.

Forty-one hacienda workers then filed an illegal dismissal complaint against Manuel Lamata before the National Labor Relations Commission(NLRC)-Bacolod City.The First Mandatory Conference was scheduled in December 3, 2014.

A week before the scheduled Hearing at the NLRC, a representative of Manuel Lamata, through his daughter Maricris Lamata, offered half a million pesos (P500,000) to settle which the 41 workers rejected outright.

Then the brutal killing of Rolando Pango followed.

In lieu to the brutal murder of our comrade Labor Leader Organizer, the 280 delegates of the provincial congress representing 2,800 active Partido Manggagawa members hereby resolved:

1.    To ask the Provincial Government in Negros Occidental to take the summary killing seriously and to stop the culture of impunity in the province;
2.    To urge the Provincial Police Office to conduct a thorough investigation of the case until the culprit is punished and justice given to Kaupod Lando, his family, and to the oppressed and exploited hacienda workers that he had served.
3.    Seek the assistance of human rightsgroups and advocates, the Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an independent investigation of human rights abuses inside Hacienda Salud.

Partido Manggagawa-Negros Chapter                                                     November 30, 2014Bacolod City, Philippines

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