Labor and Environmental Groups Push for a Stronger Anti-Asbestos Policy to Protect Human Health
There is an urgent need to modify and improve the Philippines’ twenty-one year old asbestos policy regulation on the manufacture and use of asbestos and asbestos containing materials in the country, said a confederation of labor unions and a coalition of environmental organizations.
According to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and the Ecowaste Coalition, the moribund Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Asbestos issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on January 6, 2000 needs serious improvement in its mandate to protect the public in the light of its passive enforcement, growing non-compliance to the regulation, and the unfettered importation into the country of raw asbestos and materials and products containing asbestos.
Amid the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, Teachers asked DEPED to retain their work from home status
Amid the rising cases of COVID-19 especially in Metro Manila, the Teachers ’Dignity Coalition (TDC) has asked the Department of Education (DepEd) leadership to publicly declare that the agency is compliant with its own policy on alternative work arrangements for public school teachers. In a series of Facebook posts this morning, TDC Chairperson called the attention of DepEd officials to reiterate the alternative work arrangement of public school teachers.
“Yung ilang schools/SDOs sa Reg 3 & Reg 4A na nagpapasok sa teachers physically, relax, ‘wag niyo na dagdagan ang exposure ng tao para hindi matulad dito sa NCR. Remote modalities ang teaching, remember?” Basas posted referring to some schools in Central Luzon and CALABARZON requiring the physical presence of their teachers despite the remote teaching modalities employed by DepEd.
Tinay Palabay wins prestigious human rights award; dedicates prize to fellow rights defenders
Karapatan’s office was busy Wednesday afternoon and people were scurrying about, as usual. But no list was being updated and no frantic calls were being made. The stacks of papers atop tables were being ignored and the placards were shoved to corners where they could not get in the way of the bustle.
The chatter was happy and the jokes came thicker and faster than usual. And instead of harried-looking human rights defenders, they looked like party-goers in their Sunday best.
In a space usually reserved for quick consultations when there are reports of arrests and killings stood a ring light beside a human rights lawyer, make-up brushes in hand. Under the lights sat Karapatan’s secretary general Cristina “Tinay” Palabay being glammed up.
Why the Laud quarry, ‘mass grave’ for DDS victims, haunts Lascañas
When a death squad maintained by the mayor of the Philippines’ largest city goes on a killing spree, where do they bury the bodies?
For their biggest dumping ground – where hitmen had confessed to having buried thousands – the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS) had a six-hectare quarry owned by policeman Bienvenido Laud in Barangay Ma-a.
In an affidavit submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in October 2020, a copy of which was obtained by Rappler, former DDS insider Arturo Lascañas detailed how the Laud quarry had become a “mass grave” for persons whom then-mayor Rodrigo Duterte had ordered them to kill.
Facebook Is Now Meta. And It Wants to Monetize Your Whole Existence. By James Muldoon
You log on, and you’re herded into a virtual bar to listen to your boss telling jokes. Meanwhile, a metaverse-first real estate company is selling off overpriced property in a virtual London, and gamers are competing for non-fungible tokens. Welcome to the Zuckerverse — a place nobody asked for but in which we may soon all be spending a lot of time.
On Thursday, Facebook changed its name to Meta, as part of a broader shift toward the so-called metaverse — a network of interconnected experiences partly accessed through virtual reality (VR) headsets and augmented reality (AR) devices. In Zuckerberg’s own words, “you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it.” The most recognizable examples of this in action are virtual office meetings with VR goggles, playing games in an expansive online universe, and accessing a digital layer on top of the real world through AR.
Philippines Loses Staunch Rights Defender | Human Rights Watch
Philippines Loses Staunch Rights Defender Chito Gascon Led Commission on Human Rights During Trying Years By Carlos H. Conde Senior Philippines Researcher Human Rights Watch
The Philippines has lost a beloved human rights defender. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, known to all as “Chito,” who had chaired the governmental Commission on Human Rights since 2015, died October 9 from complications due to Covid-19, his family said. He was 57.
Friends and allies in the human rights movement mourned Gascon’s passing. “The country lost a dedicated public servant who never cowered in fear in asserting people’s rights and civil liberties,” said Fides Lim, spokesperson of Kapatid, a group advocating for the rights of political prisoners. “Amid the challenges faced by the CHR … he carried on with dignity, strength and courage,” said Jacqueline Ann de Guia, Gascon’s colleague at the commission. Even the military, often the target of commission investigations, paid its respects.
Opinion: Duterte is worried about the ICC. He should be. | by Carlos H. Conde
Clarita Alia remains anguished, nearly 20 years after I first heard her express her grief.
“His name was Danilo Lugay,” she told me over the phone recently from Davao City, in the southern Philippines. Police killed Lugay in September 2020 during a drug raid; a news report of the killing said he had fought back and police officers shot him. Lugay, 28, was the grandchild of Alia’s sister Naneth.
Alia’s voice cracked as she described what happened — the same pained voice that I heard when I interviewed her in 2002 for a report on the killing of her sons Richard, Christopher and Bobby, all teenagers. Assailants later murdered a fourth son, Fernando, in 2007. This unimaginable family tragedy gave Alia, a vegetable vendor who lives in a slum community, the label of poster mother for the city’s bloody “war on drugs,” in which police use extrajudicial executions instead of prosecutions as a primary method of punishing criminal suspects.
Congratulations, Maria and Rappler. You have made the country proud
Laban ng Masa joins the country in celebrating Maria Ressa’s being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Russian journalist Dimitry Muratov. Maria and the news and opinion outlet she headed up, Rappler, have been in the forefront of the defense of freedom of the press. For continuing to expose the crimes of the Duterte regime, Ressa and Rappler were subjected to legal persecution and attempts at political annihilation and economic asphyxiation by the administration.
Philippines: International community must support independent investigative mechanism to end attacks on civil society
New research on the state of civic freedoms in the Philipines
CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, continues to call on the UN Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigative mechanism to address human rights violations and abuses in the Philippines to further accountability and justice. A new brief published today, shows that one year on from the adoption of a profoundly weak resolution at the Council, serious civic freedoms violations continue to occur, creating a chilling effect within civil society.
The CIVICUS Monitor has documented the arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders and activists on fabricated charges. In a number of instances, the activists have been vilified and red-tagged – labelled as communists or terrorists – in relation to their work prior to their arrest. There have also been reports of evidence planted by the police and military forces to justify arrests or violence against activists.
Victims and their families will engage a justice system that they can trust- iDEFEND
The report of the ICC registry indicating an overwhelming support of victims and their families towards an investigation into the war on drugs by the International Criminal Court, proves the lack of credibility of the Philippine system to provide justice to more than thirty thousand cases of extrajudicial killings in the country.
According to the Victims’ Participation and Reparations Section of the registry, there had been more than 200 submissions to the ICC supporting the request of the prosecutor to launch a formal investigation into the human rights violations in the country. The VPRS cited that some reasons given by the victims are the reign of impunity entrenched by the President, the unending trauma that they endure, and their conviction that their relatives did not fight back against authorities.
Lessons Unlearned: Fight for Inclusive Education Carries into Second Year of Remote Learning by Isaiah Castro
“It makes me anxious,” John Carlou, 20, confesses when asked how he feels about remote learning. “Since it started, I have been struggling financially, mentally, and emotionally. Also, learning at home does not work well for me because I keep doubting myself.”
The eldest among four children, John Carlou resides in the rural Daanbantayan town in northernmost Cebu. An incoming third-year student of political science at the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu, he admits that he feels “alienated” and is still adjusting to the virtual set-up. He worries about his performance, especially during the heavily stressful final exams, which reflects on the grades he received last semester.
Global torture prevention community calls for protection of Afghanistan’s national preventive mechanism
The recent Taliban military offensive poses a grave threat to the continued independence and functioning of Afghanistan’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) – the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) – and for the safety of its members and staff.
Everyone in Afghanistan who has engaged in work to promote human rights and democracy now faces a serious risk of reprisals under the Taliban. At particular risk are the women who lead and work for the AIHRC. All those under threat, including the staff of the AIHRC and their families, need protection including, if necessary, through visas and safe passage.
It’s Time for the U.S. to Stop Selling Weapons to Human Rights Abusers Published in:The Washington Post
By Elisa Epstein Washington Advocacy Officer Human Rights Watch @elisacepstein
The Biden administration notified Congress in June of a proposed sale of more than $2.5 billion in arms to the Philippines, including fighter jets and two kinds of precision missiles. The notice came less than two weeks after the International Criminal Court prosecutor sought approval to open a formal investigation into crimes against humanity related to the Philippines’ brutal “war on drugs.”
Human rights groups promptly expressed concern that the administration would reward an increasingly abusive government with such a large weapons sale, particularly given public pledges by both President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the new administration would put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy.
This is not the first time in the Biden administration’s short tenure that it has found itself the object of criticism following an arms sale announcement. In February, the United States approved plans to sell Egypt missiles worth $197 million. In May, news broke of an approved arms sale worth $735 million of precision-guided weapons to Israel amid its latest military offensive in Gaza, where it used large, precision-guided munitions to destroy multi-story buildings containing scores of businesses and homes on the pretext of some unproven Hamas presence at those sites. According to the United Nations, Israeli airstrikes in May killed 260 Palestinians in Gaza, at least 129 of whom were civilians, including 66 children.
The new UN Climate Report and Environmental Defenders | UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs
The report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which came out earlier this week warns of imminent climate catastrophe. Major atmospheric and climatic changes are already underway.
People have caused climate change, and must now bring it to a halt through radical changes in our behaviour and attitudes. And yet it’s the defenders of our environment who are often forced to risk their lives to advocate for increased environmental protection.
The increase in unemployment rate in the recent Labor Force Survey (LFS) shows the Duterte administration’s neoliberal agenda and failed economic policies further worsened the labor situation amid the pandemic, according to a labor NGO.
The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said that while the imposition of stricter lockdowns during the previous quarter is seen as the immediate cause, the government’s neglect of local industries and its dependence on foreign businesses is the primary reason for the rising unemployment and precarious working conditions.
The LFS released by the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) for April 2021 shows the unemployment rate rose to 8.7% from 7.1% last March. That translates to 4.14 million unemployed Filipinos. Underemployment rose to 17.2% or 7.45 million from 16.2% last March.
Decision to take back hazard pay of contractual airport workers, unjust
A Labor NGO expresses dismay over the state auditor’s order to recover the hazard pay amounting to P54.36 million given to contractual workers of the Manila International Airport Authority last year. As per the memo released by the service contractor, the retracted hazard pay shall be deducted from workers’ monthly salaries.
The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said that the decision is unjust and shows indifference to the plight of contractual workers who are on the frontlines. EILER also added that all workers deserve hazard pay given the risks they face while at work amid the pandemic.
Workers’ Coalition Slams House Urgent Call for Chacha
The biggest labor coalition in the country slams the House leadership’s “hell-bent” effort to amend restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution amid the raging fight against CoVID 19 pandemic.
Instead of resuming plenary debates and deliberations on the proposed constitutional amendments in his Resolution of Both House No. 2 (RBH 2) when sessions resume this week, NAGKAISA holds that Speaker Lord Allan Velasco needs to prioritize the passage of the Bayanihan 3 and other measures to help displaced workers and to ease the burden of the CoVID 19 pandemic.
NAGKAISA said it before and will repeat it again that this is not the time for charter change. The money for the charter change campaign should be appropriated for “ayudang sapat para sa mga manggagawang nalaglag sa trabaho o kung may trabaho man ay di nakakapasok sa trabaho.”
First, on procedure, the alleged political “consensus” in the House has no counterpart support in the Senate. Under Article XVII of the Constitution, without the uppet chamber, such initiative is already dead on its track before moving an inch.
LAWYERS URGE THE SUPREME COURT FOR REFORMS IN THE ISSUANCE OF SEARCH WARRANTS: Express concern over the use of court processes as cover to attack activists and dissenters 22 March 2021
More than a hundred lawyers, law deans and legal luminaries today formally urged the Supreme Court, through a letter, to institute reforms in the issuance of search warrants, concerned that court processes have possibly been resorted to as false legal cover to attack activists and dissenters.
The letter, prompted by the number of deaths and arrests in the course of the implementation of search warrants, include, among others, the following proposals:
This was the message conveyed by women members of Akbayan Partylist as they unfurled a banner at a footbridge in Quezon City on Thursday marking this year’s International Women’s Month.
The Akbayan women said that they are calling for more vaccine options for the public and an end to early and expensive election campaigning amid the country’s efforts to contain COVID-19.
“Women want more vaccine options. The more vaccines that are made available, the more lives we can save, and the sooner we can all realize a new and better normal for all. Campaign tarpaulins and other early and expensive election campaigning will not save lives nor protect women from the global health crisis,” Akbayan Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales said.
It was reported that tarpaulins that carried messages urging Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to run for president in 2022 appeared in different parts of the country. Duterte and her supporters drew flak from the public as the tarpaulins sprouted in different areas amid the country’s lack of vaccines against COVID-19.
“As women, who are one of the most vulnerable sectors to the pandemic, we are scandalized by this early election campaigning in the middle of a global health crisis. Hindi bale sana kung ganoon din kabilis ang rollout ng bakuna gaya ng paglalagay nila ng mga tarpaulin sa buong bansa,” Rosales said.
Rosales, who is also a former partylist representative, explained that women have every right to call for more vaccines as they bear the brunt of the pandemic.
“From facing a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission and deaths, as majority of health frontliners are women, to loss of jobs and increasing gender-based violence, COVID-19 has hit women harder and worsened gender inequality. Let us not add furthermore to our women’s multiple burden by depriving them of a fast, safe and efficient vaccine program,” Rosales said.
“We call on the government to provide a safe, adequate, and effective vaccination plan for all. We also call for the faster arrival of more vaccines to give the public, particularly women, the widest array options to protect ourselves from COVID-19,” Rosales said.
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