Category Archives: From the web

[From the web] Groups Call for a Stronger ASEAN Regional Policy and Action to Combat Waste Dumping -EcoWaste Coalition

#HumanRights #Environment

Groups Call for a Stronger ASEAN Regional Policy and Action to Combat Waste Dumping

Photo from ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

Two civil society organizations from Malaysia and the Philippines urged the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to declare the entire region as “no dumping ground” for hazardous wastes and other wastes such as household and plastic garbage.

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and the EcoWaste Coalition together called for a robust ASEAN-level policy that will protect the region’s over 655 million people and their rich but threatened biodiversity and ecosystems from the adverse impacts of global waste dumping.

The groups’ plea for a regional stance to prevent foreign waste dumping came on the heels of the prestigious Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards (AEEA) given to recipients from Malaysia and the Philippines who were recognized for their work in combating transboundary environmental crime, which resulted in the re-exportation of unlawful plastic waste imports to their countries of origin.

“The AEEA conferred to environmental enforcers in Malaysia and the Philippines has again turned the spotlight on the illegal traffic of waste in Asia and the need for greater collaboration and vigilance, nationally and regionally, to put an end to such an environmental crime,” said Mageswari Sangaralingam, Researcher, CAP.

“To protect the region from the environmental and health impacts of waste trade, all the ASEAN member states should immediately ratify the Basel Convention Ban Amendment and fix regulatory loopholes if any that ‘legalize’ the entry of hazardous wastes and other wastes disguised as recyclable scraps. Regionally, we urge the ASEAN to adopt a declaration, or better still an agreement, proclaiming the region as no dumping ground for foreign waste,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Now is the time for the ASEAN to flex its muscles as a regional bloc to denounce global waste dumping and affirm its unity to safeguard the region’s people and the environment from the drawbacks and hazards of waste trade,” said Chinkie Peliño-Golle, Regional Coordinator, International Pollutants Elimination Network – Southeast and East Asia (IPEN-SEA).

Read complete article @ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP)
10 Jalan Masjid Negeri, 11600 Pulau Pinang
Malaysia
https://consumer.org.my/
EcoWaste Coalition
78-A Masigla Extension, Barangay Central, 1100 Quezon City
Philippines
http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com/

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] ‘Stop the killings!’- Labor NGO seeks justice for the murder of union leader Leonardo Escala -EILER

#HumanRights #Workers

‘Stop the killings!’- Labor NGO seeks justice for the murder of union leader Leonardo Escala

Screen Grabbed from Eiler.ph

The Ecumenical Institute of Labor Education and Research (EILER) condemns the brutal murder of Leonardo “Ka Esca” Escala, union president of the port operator International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI) last February 7, in Tondo Manila.

Under Escala’s leadership, the union the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa Pantalan Incorporated (NMPI)-ICTSI under the National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), fought for labor rights and humane working conditions.

Because of his convictions, he constantly received death threats.

Read complete article @eiler.ph

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] Clergy, scientists oppose seabed mining in Cagayan -ATM

#HumanRights #Mining

Clergy, scientists oppose seabed mining in Cagayan

Quezon City – Local clergy and scientists involved in marine conservation expressed opposition against the reported seabed mining project in Cagayan that will start operations this month.

In a statement signed on January 8, 2021, the Cagayan Advocates for Integrity of Creation (CAIC) called on Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Roy Cimatu to re-consider decision to allow the offshore mining project, citing the potential decrease of fish-catch of the more than 37,000 registered fisherfolk in Cagayan Province.

CAIC also mentioned the negative effects the mining project might introduce to several endangered species in the area. “It is clear to us that the black sand is a God-given resource to protect the ecological integrity of the whole province. Removal of it will cause irreversible damages to the entire bio-network” according to the statement signed by at least nine priests and nuns based in Cagayan province.

JDVC, owner and operator of the offshore mining project has asserted that their operations will not disturb the environment and has been accepted by local residents.

In a separate position paper, 78 environmental organizations and science-experts detailed the documented impacts of offshore or seabed mining.

Read complete article @www.alyansatigilmina.net

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for LGU Inspection of Ice and Cold Storage Plants Following Ammonia Gas Leaks in Two Facilities

#HumanRights #Safety #Health

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for LGU Inspection of Ice and Cold Storage Plants Following Ammonia Gas Leaks in Two Facilities

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for chemical safety and environmental health, pressed local government units (LGUs) to immediately conduct inspections of ice and cold storage plants following ammonia gas leak incidents in Metro Manila and Batangas province last Wednesday.

On February 3, an ammonia gas leak from an ice plant in Navotas City led to the death of two workers, the hospitalization of close to 100 people, and the evacuation of some 3,000 nearby residents. Leakage from an ice plant in Lian Batangas on the same day caused the plants at an adjacent creek to wither and the fish to die.

Ammonia, particularly anhydrous ammonia, is a common refrigerant used in commercial and industrial facilities such as those involved in ice making, dairy products manufacturing and cold storage.

According to material safety data sheets, exposure to ammonia, a colorless, corrosive and highly irritating gas with suffocating smell, can irritate or burn the nose, throat and respiratory tract, eyes and skin, and cause dizziness and nausea among victims. Exposure to a high concentration of ammonia can be fatal.

“We call upon LGUs to conduct immediate inspection of ice and cold storage facilities in their areas of jurisdiction to prevent the possibility of chemical accidents in the future, as well as to reduce harm on workers, residents and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Read complete article @ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] NUJP’s ABS-CBN campaign, Karapatan’s ‘resilient website’ win human rights awards -Kodao

#HumanRights #Campaign NUJP’s ABS-CBN campaign, Karapatan’s ‘resilient website’ win human rights awards

Photo from Kodao Production website

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and Karapatan won the two top prizes of the 10th Human Rights Pinduteros Choice Awards for their online campaign and presence in the past year.

The NUJP’s Black Friday Online Protest #NoToABSCBNShutdown garnered nearly 39% of votes among 10 finalists in an online poll held by HR Online PH.

The media group held several online rallies after government-imposed coronavirus lockdowns prevented its burgeoning Black Friday protests on the closure of ABS-CBN from being regularly held since the month of March.

Government attacks of the country’s biggest broadcasting corporation and eventual denial of petitions for a new franchise to operate had been the biggest press freedom and labor rights issue in the country this year.

The NUJP started and led national and global Black Friday protests that gathered participation and support from many sectors, organizations and individuals.

NUJP secretary general Dabet Castaneda-Panelo and this reporter, NUJP deputy secretary general, received the glass trophy at the awarding ceremony in Quezon City Monday, November 30.

Castaneda said in an emotional acceptance speech that the recognition is personal as she is an ABS-CBN employee who witnessed how the majority of the 11 thousand employees of the network lost their jobs.

“But the struggle for ABS-CBN is bigger than its 11 thousand employees and the network itself. This is for the people’s right of choice and right to information,” she said.

Click the link to read the complete article: https://kodao.org/nujps-abs-cbn-campaign-karapatans-resilient-website-win-human-rights-awards/?fbclid=IwAR1-EmwKUtjDachHIZAtV6QX91d1Ivnl-_gpNQ5uDJMg9IfNuCeod_mPC9g

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] The Guilds earns nomination on Human Rights Recognition

#HumanRights The Guilds earns nomination on Human Rights Recognition

Official Student Publication of Bataan Peninsula State University—Main Campus, The Guilds, received a nomination at the 10th #HumanRights Pinduteros Choice Awards on this year’s Network Post Category for its statement post denouncing attacks against Jejomar Contawe’s stand as a scholar of taxpayers.

In line with this, representatives from The Guilds also participated on Freedom of Expression Conference IV themed “fighting misinformation and defending freedom of expression during COVID-19 in the Philippines” and in the two-day National Youth Conference for Human Rights which explored the issues and challenges on human rights and roles of youth.

These events are held to raise the awareness of youth and to commemorate the celebration of International Human Rights Week, organized by Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, and Human Rights Online Philippines in partnership with British Embassy Manila. The award ceremony will be held later this afternoon with live telecast at Human Rights Online Philippines’ Facebook page and YouTube channel.


Report by Virgnia Mae M. Constante
Layout by Jeanuel Roger Rendell A. Paje
Photo from Human Rights Online Philippines website

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] On the incredulous red-tagging of Altermidya Network at the Dec. 1 Senate hearing -Kodao

#HumanRights #StopRedTagging On the incredulous red-tagging of Altermidya Network at the Dec. 1 Senate hearing

ONCE AGAIN, state forces led the hostile red-baiting of independent media at the December 1 Senate hearing after they presented the Altermidya Network and its members nationwide as so-called communist fronts.

The red-tagging of Altermidya journalists, online and on-ground, has intensified even more in the past months. These incidents, just like the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) presentation at the Senate hearing earlier, were done without evidence and incredulously linked the member outfits of Altermidya to an underground Communist organization.

In fact, the task force, despite its billion-peso-budget, merely copied the publicly-available Altermidya list of members and placed it under an incredible organizational heading.

We are appalled at this irresponsible practice, which is a stark contrast to our ethical commitment of truthful and careful reporting as journalists. The Altermidya Network is the broadest alliance of community journalists, independent media outfits, community radio broadcasters, and grassroots film collectives in the country. Its member outfits have a consistent record of covering underreported issues in communities – some for more than two decades, while other community-based media outfits in provinces join and continually expand the network.

Click the link to read the complete article: https://kodao.org/on-the-incredulous-red-tagging-of-altermidya-network-at-the-dec-1-senate-hearing/

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] AFP, PNP raid Cagayan peasant leaders’ house -Kodao

#HumanRights AFP, PNP raid Cagayan peasant leaders’ house

The military and police raided the house of Anakpawis regional coordinator and Danggayan ti Mannalon ti Cagayan Valley (Danggayan) chairperson Isabelo Adviento midnight of Wednesday, December 2, but failed to find the peasant leader, a Cagayan Valley support group reported.

About 100 soldiers swooped down on Adviento’s house at Barangay Carupian, Baggao, Cagayan and, at about 3:30 AM, forced their way in to search for him, the group Taripnong Cagayan Valley said.

The group did not identify the soldiers’ unit.

Adviento, however, was not home as he was leading relief operations elsewhere to help victims of the massive floods that hit the region the past weeks, Taripnong added.

Frustrated at missing their target, the government troops tried to intimidate the household by placing a grenade and a loaded gun underneath a chair at the house’s living area.

The soldiers also accosted and handcuffed Adviento’s neighbor and Baggao Farmers’ Association (BFA) member Richard Dagohoy, Taripnong added.

The group said the local police arrived after two hours with a warrant and proceeded to search the entire house.

The police warned the people in the house, including Adviento’s mother, that the next to be raided are the houses of BFA members Ranchi Billones and Ronald Reyes.

Click the link to read the complete article: https://kodao.org/afp-pnp-raid-cagayan-peasant-leaders-house/

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] Women and Labor Groups to Gender Ombud: Investigate PhilHealth’s Objectification of Woman for Official’s Birthday -CATW-AP

#HumanRights #Women and Labor Groups to Gender Ombud: Investigate PhilHealth’s Objectification of Woman for Official’s Birthday

Photo from CATW-AP FB Page

Eight groups of women and labor organizations trooped to the Commission on Human Rights Commission on Human Rights (CHR), to file a complaint of discrimination and violation of women’s rights under the Magna Carta of Women against PhilHealth Regional Vice President Paolo Johann Perez and regional office employees.

According to Joanna Bernice Coronacion, Deputy Secretary General of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – Sentro
, “In two days, we are marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (VAW), and we should remind the state and the public that reinforcement of women’s objectification is unacceptable.”

Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), cited that within the definition of discrimination in the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which is the basis of the Magna Carta of Women, is distinction of women on the basis of sex with the purpose of nullifying her rights. “In this instance as in many normalized instances of treating women as gifts to men and their portrayal as always sexually available to men, women’s right to be treated equal in dignity is violated.”

Judy Ann Chan-Miranda, Secretary General of Partido Manggagawa (PM), cited Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which states that all government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, honestly and economically. “The use of PhilHealth office to display utter disregard for women’s rights should be accounted for.”

Ana Maria Nemenzo, National Coordinator of WomanHealth Philippines, also deplored the acts of the PhilHealth officials and employees which she says normalizes the hyper-objectification of women which discourages women and girls from reporting when they are abused. “Women and girls are reluctant to report sexual violence because of fear of being blamed since public officials normalize sexual objectification,” Nemenzo stressed.

Amparo Miciano, Secretary General of Pambansang Kongreso ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), “The State, as the primary duty-bearer, shall refrain from discriminating against women and violating their rights; protect women against discrimination and from violation of their rights by entities, and individuals; and fulfill the rights of women in all spheres, including their rights to substantive equality and non-discrimination,” Miciano added in quoting the Magna Carta of Women.

Other complainants were Ellene Sana, Executive Director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy, Phils. Inc., Janina Luz Cruz Sarmiento, representing the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), Philippines, and Myrna Jimenez, representing SARILAYA.

The complaint stemmed from the Senate blue ribbon committee’s report on its investigation into PhilHealth anomalies back in August 2019. It took the panel a year to finalize the report because of other investigations and the coronavirus pandemic, according to Senator Richard Gordon of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. The committee report read that “on his birthday, Perez received a gift, an enormous box, in his office. A girl, dressed in nothing but her underwear, danced and gyrated provocatively in front of Perez.”

The acts cited in the report pertaining to the purchase of a woman by PhilHealth employees and the condonation of such by the PhilHealth official, fundamentally illustrates that women as a group can be treated as commodities that can be bought and used as entertainment for sexual pleasure.

The CHR, mandated as the Gender and Development Ombud by the Magna Carta of Women, is primarily responsible for investigations and complaints of discrimination and violations of their rights brought under this Act and related laws and regulations.

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] Amnesty International calls on the Philippine government to cease its relentless efforts to muzzle journalists and media organizations

#HumanRights #FreedomOfThePress

A free press reporting on the issues that interest us and shape our lives is a key building block of any rights-respecting society. Yet many countries including the Philippines, journalists face repression and attacks.

Since the Duterte administration came to power, it has threatened civil liberties on several fronts. Human rights groups have been increasingly undermined and vilified; government critics and activists have been harassed, arbitrarily detained, and killed; journalists and media organizations have been threatened and targeted with lawsuits.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly attacked ABS-CBN for allegedly failing to run his paid political advertisements during the 2016 elections, which he won.

ABS-CBN has produced numerous investigative reports highlighting extrajudicial executions committed as part of the government’s so-called “war on drugs.” Similarly, news website Rappler and Maria Ressa, who have also been critical of the anti-drug campaign in their reporting, are facing a string of lawsuits, including charges of tax evasion, cyber libel and foreign ownership.

Amnesty International calls on the Philippine government to cease its relentless efforts to muzzle journalists and media organizations, and to fulfil its obligations under domestic and international law to safeguard and respect the right to freedom of expression and media freedom.

Source: facebook.com/amnestyph

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] Online Regional Conference Touts Citizen Science as a People’s Tool for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals -EcoWaste Coalition

#HumanRights #Environment Online Regional Conference Touts Citizen Science as a People’s Tool for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals
(Groups draw on citizen science to address chemical and waste issues that threaten public health and the environment)

The participation of non-professional scientists in scientific research or monitoring efforts can empower grassroots organizations and movements into advancing a sustainable and toxic-free future for all.

Citizen science, as it is generally called, has become a strategic tool enabling communities impacted by chemical and waste problems to empower themselves with data and information that can be used to assert their rights to a healthy and safe environment.

A four-part online regional conference commencing today will put a spotlight on the application of citizen science in addressing such problems affecting mostly poor and marginalized communities, with children, pregnant women and workers at greater risk. It will bring together over 70 citizen science advocates, practitioners and learners from 11 countries.

The International Pollutants Elimination Network – Southeast and East Asia (IPEN-SEA) Virtual Conference that is taking place amid the COVID-19 pandemic is co-organized by Nexus3 Foundation-Indonesia, EcoWaste Coalition-Philippines and the Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand with support from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and IPEN.

“Through the years, citizen science has developed into a practical and potent tool for helpless victims who often suffer in silence from the destructive pollution caused by powerful commercial and industrial interests,” noted Penchom Saetang, Executive Director of EARTH and a citizen science practitioner for over 20 years.

“By developing their scientific knowledge, technical skills and critical abilities, pollution victims, or survivors rather, have found their voice and are able to use the results of their own studies to negotiate with polluters, defend their human rights in courts and advocate for policy reforms,” she said.

Added Yuyun Ismawati, Co-Founder and Senior Adviser of Nexus3 Foundation: “In citizen science, grassroot NGOs and community groups are the subject and the actors of the investigation, not a subject of a research project. In many cases, the results of citizen science advocacy works contribute to policy changes at the local and national level.”

In today’s program, examples of citizen science efforts in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand were presented. Among these efforts were the monitoring of mercury concentrations in air in several healthcare facilities in Denpasar City, Bali, Indonesia, which eventually led to the issuance of a government policy withdrawing mercury-containing medical devices; the screening of playground equipment for lead content in Penang, Malaysia, which further drew attention to the urgency of adopting a regulation banning lead in paint; and the air sampling in Rayong Province, Thailand that detected excessive levels of air pollutants, including cancer-causing benzene and vinyl chloride, which prompted the government to issue a notification on the annual standard level of volatile organic compounds in ambient air for nine highly toxic chemical compounds.

The topic of how citizen science can be used in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is growing in momentum, said Rachel Pateman, a researcher at SEI, University of York. The SDGs, which member states of the United Nations adopted in 2015, seek to end poverty and other deprivations, improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and preserving marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

“Citizen science can help in filling the data gaps to monitor the SDG indicators and in localizing indicator monitoring, especially in under-reported areas. It can help to bring to the fore issues of importance or concern to local communities that may have been missed in higher level discussions. And it can also be a way to bring together different stakeholders, including citizens, to build a shared understanding of and co-develop solutions to sustainability challenges,” said Pateman.

“There is lots of potential for citizen science to be used to monitor, localize, define and implement the SDGs, but there are some critical challenges that need to be addressed in order for this potential to be realized,” she added.

Read complete article @ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Pro-Duterte vlogger misleads in claiming UN resolution proves ‘no EJK’ in PH

#HumanRights #Information VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Pro-Duterte vlogger misleads in claiming UN resolution proves ‘no EJK’ in PH

Video blogger (vlogger) Byron Cristobal, a Duterte and Marcos supporter better known as Banat By, misleadingly claimed that the adoption of a resolution calling for the improvement of the human rights situation in the Philippines by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) proved there were no extrajudicial killings in the country.

STATEMENT

In his YouTube vlog running over an hour, Cristobal cited an Inquirer.net article about the UNHRC adoption of the resolution on Oct. 7 at its 45th session. He said:

 “Ito (Here): No EJK. Oh ayan ah (There.). Ito pala iyon (This is it)...Iyan iyong (This is the) 'resolution, which was adopted by consensus (without voting) during the council’s'... 'provide support for the country in its continued fulfillment of its international human rights obligations and commitment(s).' Sa madaling salita, wala naman silang nakitang EJK (In short, they didn’t find any EJK). Yari sila (They’re finished).”

Source: Banat By official YouTube account, WALANG EJK SA PINAS-United Nation (sic) /PIRMA KAY VELASCO OLATS, Oct. 7, 2020, watch from 53:27 to 53:53 

As of Oct. 15, Cristobal’s video has been viewed over 36,630 times. It could have reached more than 6.8 million social media users, with Facebook pages Mocha Uson Blog (which he co-manages), DDS News, and his own Banat By generating the most traffic for the video.

Read full article @https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-pro-duterte-vlogger-misleads-claiming

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] Thailand: More arrests amid ‘drastic’ emergency order banning gatherings -AI

#HumanRights #Solidarity Thailand: More arrests amid ‘drastic’ emergency order banning gatherings

Screen grabbed from http://www.amnesty.org

Responding to news that the Thai authorities have ordered a ban on gatherings of five or more people in Bangkok and on sharing information that “could create fear”, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said:

“This vague, drastic order will lead to more people unfairly arrested, detained and prosecuted.

“With further public assemblies expected to happen today, we urge the Thai authorities to engage in constructive dialogue with the protesters.

“The scale of today’s early morning arrests seems completely unjustified based on yesterday’s events. The assemblies were overwhelmingly peaceful. These moves are clearly designed to stamp out dissent, and sow fear in anyone who sympathizes with the protesters’ views. Peaceful protesters must be released immediately and unconditionally, and all those detained must have access to legal counsel.

Read complete article @ http://www.amnesty.org

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/10/thailand-more-arrests-amid-drastic-order/?fbclid=IwAR0E5j0DiSYOIGPerwKZnXz6Tvf8t55BobHMrhyZp3LG_RlZQL9uxx5IBYE

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] Philippine candidate unfit for UN women’s rights body -RAPPLER.com

#HumanRights #Women Philippine candidate unfit for UN women’s rights body

Screen grabbed from Rappler,com

In the coming weeks, 189 countries from around the world will elect 23 members to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) for the 2021-2024 term. The Philippine government recently nominated a career diplomat, Rosario Manalo, for another term on the committee. If elected, she would serve her fourth term in this UN treaty body. She was its chairperson in 2005-2006.

The CEDAW committee plays an influential role, interpreting the widely ratified Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which affects governments’ obligations protecting women’s rights. It also receives and responds to individual complaints.

While the Philippine government hails Manalo as a champion of women’s rights, her recent record is one of undermining human rights and attacking rights groups – which disqualifies her from continuing in this capacity.

Read complete article @ Rappler.com

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[From the web] UN resolution a missed chance for justice but scrutiny continues -AIph

#HumanRights #StopTheKillings [From the web] UN resolution a missed chance for justice but scrutiny continues

The resolution on the Philippines adopted by the UN Human Rights Council today is a missed opportunity to seek justice for thousands of unlawful killings, said Amnesty International.

Rather than launching the much-needed comprehensive investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines, the UN resolution – led jointly by Iceland and the Philippines – requests the UN Human Rights Office to support the Philippines through ‘technical assistance’. This assistance will be focused on areas including accountability; data gathering of violations by the police; civic space; counter-terrorism legislation, and a rights-based approach to drug control.

“The human rights situation in the Philippines warrants more than just ‘technical assistance’ from the UN. A full international investigation to effectively address the pervasive impunity in the country is urgently needed,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Philippines Researcher at Amnesty International.

The resolution falls far short of repeated calls by civil society and UN experts for an independent, international investigation into the serious ongoing human rights violations in the country, including the thousands of extrajudicial executions perpetrated by police and vigilantes linked to them in the context of the so-called “war on drugs”.

“The Human Rights Council failed to advance justice for bereaved families across the Philippines who had placed their hopes in the international community,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard.

“This weak resolution also lets down the brave human rights defenders, journalists and others who have engaged with the UN in good faith and pursue their work at huge personal risk.”

Amnesty International has seen a continued deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines over the last few months. Major warning signs include ongoing incitement to kill by President Duterte, the promotion to national police chief of Lt Gen Camilo Cascolan, an alleged architect of the deadly anti-drug campaign, and the adoption of a dangerous anti-terror law. In June 2020, well-known journalist Maria Ressa was convicted for ‘cyber libel’, and a month after, major media network ABS-CBN was shut down. There is also a new spike in police killings, and there have been brutal murders of human rights and political activists and of a journalist in recent months.

This critical state of affairs was detailed by Amnesty International in a briefing published last week, “My Job is to Kill”, named after a speech by President Duterte in March 2020.

“The states that negotiated with the Philippines to agree to this resolution have a responsibility to launch a full international investigation if there is no radical improvement in the human rights situation in the country. These states face a credibility test: how will they respond if the bloody wave of killings continue, and the brutal crackdown on civil society and the media rages on?”

Despite its major shortcomings, the resolution includes measures that task the UN Human Rights Office to continue to provide updates to the Council over the next two years.

“The decision to keep the Philippines on the Council’s agenda sends a clear message to the Duterte administration that the international community is still watching,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard.

“The months to come must see an immediate end to the wave of drug-related killings, the cessation of violent attacks against critics of the government, as well as a halt to the crackdown on press freedom in the Philippines.

“While the government’s tactics to delay an international investigation may have worked this time, the moment will come when justice will be done.”

Read full article @www.amnesty.org

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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

[From the web] Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk -AIph

Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk
4 September 2020

Responding to reports of escalating violence in Surigao del Sur between government security forces and the New People’s Army (NPA) which led to the killing of two young indigenous people, Amnesty International Philippines Director, Butch Olano, said:

“Violence between state forces and non-state actors in Surigao del Sur has continued to build up after the Anti-Terrorism Law was enacted in July, with reports of more indigenous communities at risk of getting caught in the crossfire. Amnesty International Philippines has received reports of harassment perpetrated both by the military and NPA where a large number of residents have been internally displaced due to armed violence in the area. Incidents of killings of civilians, some of young indigenous people, are very concerning.

“State forces must not forget to uphold the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law as part of any counter-insurgency strategy. The government should recognize that clashes between state forces and armed groups drastically affect the lives and livelihood of civilians, and must adopt a concrete plan for the internally displaced or those who are forced to flee out of fear for their lives and safety. Such a plan must be developed in full consultation with affected communities.

“Amnesty International Philippines is calling on the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), as the main government agency tasked with protecting the interests of Indigenous peoples, to do its job in preventing rights violations against IP groups in the affected areas.

“We denounce indiscriminate attacks brought about by military operations, as well as attacks targeting the general population carried out by non-state actors. We call on the military and the NPA to refrain from any attack of this nature. All attacks targeting members of the general population must be promptly and effectively investigated, those suspected of responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials; the human rights of the victims of such attacks must also be respected and fulfilled.

“Amnesty International Philippines is concerned that the hastily enacted Anti-Terrorism Act is being used as an excuse to violate human rights. The government should ensure that all measures taken against non-state actors fully comply with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and that the Anti-Terrorism Act does not lead to further human rights abuses.”

Click the link below to read the complete article:

Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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

[From the web] New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war -AIph

New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war

Responding to the appointment of PLtGen Camilo Cascolan as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said

“PLtGen Cascolan is no stranger to the deadly drug war. As the PNP’s former operations chief and co-author of the murderous strategy behind Oplan Double Barrel, he has played a key role in enabling thousands of unlawful killings at the hands of the police. The fact that Cascolan has been promoted to the highest police position in the land shows the alarming levels of impunity in the country.

“Cascolan’s stated plan to use small-time drug pushers as ‘leads’ – instead of killing them – to build cases against drug lords is a blatant case of too little, too late. It is high time for the countless unlawful PNP killings, arbitrary arrests, acts of torture, ill-treatment and other abuses to end.

Please click the link below to read the complete article:

New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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

[From the web] The Government of the Philippines must end the killings of human rights activists and defenders -Forum-Asia

The Government of the Philippines must end the killings of human rights activists and defenders

The Philippine government should immediately end the killings of activists and human rights defenders and ensure credible, transparent investigations and accountability for the lives which have been lost, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) said in a statement today.

Human rights activist Zara Alvarez was gunned down on the evening of 17 August in Bacolod City while on her way home.[1] Alvarez worked as the research and advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program, and was the former Campaign and Education Director of the Negros chapter of human rights network Karapatan. She is the 13th Karapatan member to have been killed under the current administration.

‘The endless killings of activists in the Philippines have become systematic in Duterte’s regime, and demonstrate the continuing impunity in the country. The government should end these killings immediately and take genuine steps towards ensuring justice for victims and their family members,’ said Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, Executive Director at FORUM-ASIA.

A week prior, on 10 August, peace consultant and labour activist, Randy Echanis was stabbed and killed in his home in Quezon City.[2] Echanis was also the chair of Anakpawis, a party-list advocating for the rights of workers.

Alvarez and Echanis were both included in the Philippine Department of Justice’s (DOJ) list of individuals in its petition for terrorist proscription in 2018.[3] The list included human rights defenders and activists, and a UN Special Rapporteur. While the DOJ eventually revised this list and removed their names, Alvarez, Echanis, and other human rights activists were still targets of unknown perpetrators.

Pls click the link to read more:

The Government of the Philippines must end the killings of human rights activists and defenders

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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

[From the web] EU Member States Should Act on Philippines Abuses -HRW

EU Member States Should Act on Philippines Abuses
Support at UN Human Rights Council Crucial to Establish International Inquiry

Last year, European Union member states at the United Nations Human Rights Council voted decisively in support of a resolution mandating the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on grave rights abuses in the Philippines.

The report, presented in June, documented “widespread and systematic” extrajudicial killings, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, crimes committed in a climate of near total impunity; the murder of at least 208 human rights defenders between 2015 and 2019, and frequent threats and intimidation, police raids, arbitrary arrests, prosecutions, and shutdowns of civil society groups and media outlets.

The findings were unsurprising, confirming what has been previously documented by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, and UN special experts. What has been surprising is the Human Rights Council’s reluctance to act on repeated calls for an independent international investigation into the extrajudicial killings and other abuses committed since 2016.

In a letter sent on August 27, 62 nongovernmental organizations, including Human Rights Watch, reiterated their call for an independent international investigative mechanism on crimes committed in the Philippines. The groups also cautioned against giving credence to Manila’s recent creation of a panel to review more than 5,600 cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country, as the panel includes the very agencies implicated in the abuses.

While the EU has repeatedly expressed concerns over serious abuses by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, it has not taken concrete action beyond the June 2019 vote. The Philippines benefit from the EU’s GSP+ scheme, which grants preferential access to the EU market conditional on the ratification and implementation of 27 international human rights, labor, and environmental treaties. Despite noting major backsliding in the country’s human rights record, the EU has so far refused to trigger the mechanisms that could lead to the suspension of the trade benefits.

The EU’s and member states’ support at the Human Rights Council will be necessary to advance prospects for justice in the Philippines. Setting up the mechanism would increase pressure on the Duterte administration to stop the abuses and cooperate meaningfully with the international community. And if the Philippine government fails to do so, it could eventually lead to the Philippines having its EU trade benefits suspended, as Cambodia’s abusive prime minister, Hun Sen, knows very well.

Read complete story @www.hrw.org

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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

[From the web] The Moribund Duterte Presidency: Focus on the Global South’s Post-SONA 2020 Assessment

The Moribund Duterte Presidency
Focus on the Global South’s Post-SONA 2020 Assessment
2020 August 7

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic—a period marked by rising infections, an overwhelmed healthcare system, and an impending economic recession—the state of the nation demanded a show of fortitude and resolve from President Rodrigo Duterte and his government to move the country forward, as well as a show of leadership to rally the people in overcoming the enormous challenges before us. We saw and heard nothing of that in the President’s 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

What the President has shown was the opposite: incompetence and a serious and dangerous lack of leadership. Standing before the Congress and the nation was an inutile leader—to use Duterte’s own words—who is unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation we are facing and incapable of laying down a clear and cohesive plan to address this unprecedented crisis.

Nothing was said of the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, the dismal state of our healthcare system, the massive loss of jobs and livelihoods, or the worsening poverty and hunger among vulnerable our most communities. Instead, Duterte filled his SONA with desperate attempts to rescue the government’s already crumbling legitimacy in the face of growing public anger and discontent. He deployed blatant lies, repetitions of stale populist rhetoric that have consistently contradicted his administration’s policies and actions, and displays of “cariño brutal” leadership, including narratives of “othering” and endorsements of violence.

A Waning Brand of Leadership: Blame Game, Othering, and Violence

Prior to the onslaught of the pandemic and the multiple crises it has facilitated, Duterte’s leadership and legitimacy were derived partly from his charisma, which Focus analyst Walden Bello has aptly described as cariño brutal—“denoting a volatile mix of will to power, a commanding personality, and a gangster charm that fulfills his followers’ deep-seated yearning for a father figure who will finally end the national chaos.” He has projected himself as someone who is willing to “[break] the law,” as it “functions mainly to protect the powerful, the criminals, and the corrupt.” Throughout his speech, Duterte tried to reassert this strongman image and project power.

Duterte’s previous SONAs have consistently sought to lay the blame for the country’s ills on the same predictable lineup of groups: drug users and peddlers, criminals, narco-politicians, corrupt public officials, leftist groups, and government critics. Because these groups are easy for the middle class to detest, using them as scapegoats for all forms of social deterioration have helped his administration appeal to the broad middle class and obtain their support. The 2020 SONA was no different. Again, the oligarchy and the perpetual drug problem are to blame.

At the beginning of his speech, Duterte lambasted a senator from an opposition party who has spoken out on the need to address the issue of political dynasties. The president, exuding an anti-oligarchy persona he has adopted since his presidential campaign in 2016, then segued into a tirade against a few rich families and their corporations. He made scathing statements directed at the oligarchs controlling water provision in Metro Manila, but his rant focused particularly on private telecommunication companies. Supposedly in the name of public interest, he even warned the latter of government takeover if they fail to shape up. In the wake of the government shutdown of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest media network, these threats have a chilling effect on corporations deemed to oppose the whims of this administration.

Duterte has been projecting his upfront criticism of oligarchs as the latest expression of his will to power, commanding personality, and strong leadership. But his selective attacks against the Lopezes and Ayalas are reminiscent of the anti-oligarchy rhetoric of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who attacked certain oligarchs only to prop up his own cronies. It is not difficult to see the similarities in the current scenario under Duterte.

For instance, despite claiming to be against the oligarchy, Duterte did not criticize the Sys, the Villars, the Gokongweis, and other superrich families who have further entrenched their control over public goods and services, thereby amassing greater wealth and profit. At the same time, it is important to note that throughout Duterte’s term, many families in his hometown in Davao Region have been on the rise economically and politically. The most prominent among them is Dennis Uy, one of Duterte’s top presidential campaign donors. Starting out as the son of provincial traders, Uy has now expanded his oil, shipping, and logistics business and has also suddenly ventured into convenience stores, a digital startup, a casino franchise, a bakery chain, a Ferrari dealership, a water utility, real estate, and telecommunications. The most controversial of these is his entry into telecommunications, given Duterte’s longstanding vendetta against the duopoly running the Philippine telco industry, the lack of transparency in the bidding process for the third telco company, and Uy’s lack of experience in the industry.

Apart from Uy, investigative reports have also shown how families and companies involved in public infrastructure have also disproportionately benefited from the massive inflow of capital to Davao Region to supposedly support the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure program “Build Build Build.” Standing out among these companies is CLTG Builders, which is notably owned by Desiderio Go, the father of Duterte’s longtime aide and now-senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

Viewed in conjunction with Duterte’s political agenda of consolidating his own cronies, the selective attacks against certain oligarchs controlling telecommunications during his SONA belie the fact that only individuals and groups that support Duterte may enter and reap profits from the telco market. As such, rather than dismantling a centuries-old system that has only benefited the few, Duterte has simply been ushering in new oligarchs to secure their political support.

Apart from the oligarchs, Duterte also attributed the moral decay in society to the enduring drug problem in the Philippines. During his speech, he devoted significant time, as usual, to explain how the proliferation of illegal drugs destroys families, robs children of proper nurturance and care, and even forces mothers to seek employment in other countries where they are exposed to abusive employers. However, Duterte deliberately left out how his bloody “War on Drugs” has also led to the same outcome of destroying families and how the lack of decent, high-paying jobs coupled with the government’s labor export policy have increased labor migration.

Consistent with his hatred for smalltime drug users and peddlers and his penchant for using violence to address systemic problems, Duterte reiterated his call for the “swift passage of a law reviving the death penalty,” particularly for drug-related crimes. Surprisingly, however, this directive received very little applause from a crowd consisting of his loyal allies. He continued to play up the narrative of capital punishment as a deterrent to crime and as a necessary measure to save the youth from the scourge of illegal drugs. The fact that he included and stressed the agenda to reimpose the death penalty during a health crisis that has already taken over 2,000 lives is again quite telling of this government’s misplaced priorities. It also proves once again how violence and killings are indeed a defining characteristic of Dutertismo.

Contrary to the administration’s claims that capital punishment will bring about justice, peace, and social order, the proposed death penalty will be a death sentence for the poor. There are numerous studies that show the disproportionate impact of death penalty on people living in poverty and its ineffectiveness in crime deterrence. What the government should address and prioritize is the implementation of much needed reforms in our broken criminal justice system that promotes impunity and favors the rich, the elites, and those in positions of power.

Militaristic, Populist, and Incompetent COVID-19 Response

Focus has been examining Duterte’s past SONAs and analyzing the consequences of his regime’s exacerbation of policies and systems that promote violence, hardships, betrayals, and perversions. In particular, Focus has been analyzing from a policy lens the extent to which his rhetoric has been translated into actual policies and action. As in previous addresses, we have noted the destructive, divisive, and despotic character of the Duterte administration and the patent inconsistencies in Duterte’s policy pronouncements in his latest SONA. On the twin concerns of health and the economy, what Duterte chose to highlight in his speech is indicative of his glaring lack of understanding of the gravity of our problems and his consistent policy biases. The statements are always couched in the same pro-masa or pro-people rhetoric.

On health, Duterte chose to highlight the Malasakit Centers—the pet project of his erstwhile assistant and most trusted ally and confidant Senator Cristopher “Bong” Go—as if to present these centers as one-stop shops for all government medical and financial assistance for all Filipinos, particularly poor patients. While supposedly non-partisan, the Malasakit Centers, whose name means “concern” in English, implicitly represent the system of patronage politics, where the delivery of public services is branded as a gift deserving of public gratitude and political support.

Furthermore, in keeping with the administration’s militaristic and blunt force approach to containing the virus, Duterte threatened to order the killings of individuals who commit crimes during the pandemic. He explicitly stated that if they were to go back to their old, unlawful ways, he would see to it that their dead bodies would pile up.

Instead of heaping praises on the so-called “Bong Go Centers” and sputtering threats of violence, the President could have given the nation a much clearer picture of the state of our public health and the enormous challenge that lay before us. A World Health Organization-commissioned study on the state of the country’s public health system concluded that while there have been improvements in performance owing to health sector reforms implemented over the years, many concerns still need to be tackled. These concerns have to do with “further strengthening and improving the preparation and response capacity to natural and human induced disasters.” It further noted that “access [to health services] remains highly inequitable due to the maldistribution of facilities, health staff and specialists.”

The dire state of our public health amid the pandemic was underscored further in a new United Nations Policy Brief on the impact of COVID-19 on Southeast Asian countries. The document noted the vulnerability of most countries in the sub-region because of weak health systems. However, it singled out Myanmar and the Philippines “as particularly concerning because of pre-existing humanitarian caseload.” There are two indicators of level of preparedness for COVID-19 where the Philippines is lagging behind its neighbors. The first one is the number of nurses and midwives, where we have two per 10,000 people according to 2017-2018 data, the lowest among the 11 Southeast Asian countries (Singapore is highest at 72 nurses per 10,000 people). The second is the number of hospital beds where we registered 10 per 10,000, the third lowest next to Cambodia with eight and Myanmar with nine per 10,000.

Duterte also revealed his detachment from the struggle of healthcare workers when he hit them back for supposedly touting revolution, when they were in fact merely demanding a return to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) from the more relaxed General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in order to give our overwhelmed health system some breathing space.

The Duterte administration’s indifference to the needs of the healthcare sector, its hollow rhetoric of malasakit or sympathy, and its heavy-handed approach to the pandemic have obviously not done anything to curb the number of cases. As of today, the Philippines now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, overtaking Indonesia at 119,460 total cases, and the fourth-highest number of cases in Asia after India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. According to the Straits Times, the Philippines has now become Southeast Asia’s coronavirus hotspot after recording spikes in the number of infections, as the country plunges into recession, registering a 16.5% GDP drop in the second quarter of 2020—the deepest contraction in the country’s history.

Enduring Neoliberal Prescription

There were high expectations that Duterte would present a clear plan for the tanking economy. However, the list of recommendations and urgent policies cited by Duterte, which barely constitute a concrete recovery plan, represent the same neoliberal agenda that has only created fragile, unsustainable, and inequitable growth. Duterte pushed for the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE), which aims to cut the corporate income tax rate from 30% to 25%. The recovery program as per Duterte’s SONA pronouncements is hinged on corporate bailouts couched again in populist rhetoric. Duterte sought to emphasize, and rightly so, the plight of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that make up around 99.5% of all enterprises in the country. Considered the backbone of our economy, MSMEs provide around 5.7 million jobs or 63.19% of the country’s total employment, according to 2018 data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). But there are serious doubts as to whether the incentives and bailout packages would redound to the benefit of these MSMEs or instead be cornered by big firms. While CREATE is envisioned to serve both as a stimulus and as a means to spur economic growth, special concern should be directed at the impact of the crisis on workers.

Official statistics show that 7.3 million Filipinos are now unemployed, with the unemployment rate jumping to 17.7% in April 2020—a 12.6% increase from last year. Government’s response to support the unemployed has come in the form of social amelioration and a one-time cash dole-out to workers in the formal sector through its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP). These programs have been mired in problems, as Duterte himself has recognized.

For one, the social amelioration in the form of cash and in-kind support, ranging from PHP5,000 (~USD102) to PHP8,000 (~USD163) per household for each month of lockdown, does not have any clear criteria for recipient selection nor a timeline for distribution. Without clear criteria, the distribution of aid has been based on patronage instead of people’s needs. Furthermore, there have been various reports of delayed distribution both for the first and second tranche of the financial aid. Without any source of income during the first two months of strict lockdown, many poor families had to live on PHP8,000 (~USD163) per month, or about PHP133 (~USD2.71) per day. Even worse, some remote communities have reportedly not received any form of aid at all since March 15.

Similarly, the support program designed specifically for displaced workers has also been riddled with problems. On the one hand, the one-time cash aid worth PHP5,000 (~USD102) that was distributed to workers in the formal sector was not enough to meet the month-long needs of their families, even when combined with the financial aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Another concern of the labor sector was how the processing of aid depended on employers submitting a list of requirements to the government before their workers could receive aid. Labor groups also lamented that the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) support program for workers is exclusionary, as it only covers workers in the formal sector. Meanwhile, displaced workers and underemployed and seasonal workers could only receive provisional incomes under the department’s emergency employment program that would last between 10 and 30 days.

According to Czar Joseph Castillo of the Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN) Institute, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified labor rights issues including non-compliance with occupational safety and health standards, wage cuts, contractualization, and union busting.

While millions of poor Filipinos are suffering from worsening hunger due to lack of incomes and the delayed distribution of government aid, some public officials have been fattening their wallets with public funds. In fact, in the middle of an unprecedented health crisis that has exhausted the resources of thousands of COVID-19 victims, it was reported that PHP15 billion (~USD305 million) worth of funds of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) were pocketed by the members of the government corporation’s executive committee. Even prior to this recent exposé, various investigative reports have revealed massive fraud and scams within PhilHealth. It was estimated that the insurance company has lost around PHP154 billion (~USD3.13 billion) to various types of fraud. All these cases have persisted despite Duterte’s strong assertions that he would weed out corruption.

Rhetoric and Contradictions

There are a few other rhetorical statements in Duterte’s SONA that are contradicted by his policies and actions. He said that his administration “[wants] to end the discrimination of persons on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and other character traits.” This is ironic given Duterte’s sexist, misogynistic, and discriminatory statements against women and the LGBTQIA+ community. In one event, he was noted as saying that he “cured” himself of homosexuality “with the help of beautiful women.” Duterte has also blurted out statements before and during his term as president that objectified and sexualized women, encouraged violence against women, normalized and trivialized the otherwise serious matter of rape, and openly admitted to committing rape and other forms of sexual harassment himself.

He also boldly declared: “Rest assured that we will not dodge our obligation to fight for human rights.” This comes after years of extrajudicial killings, human rights violations and abuses, the erosion of democratic institutions, the encroachment of authoritarian rule, demonization of human rights activists and defenders, and the propagation of the divisive false dichotomy between the President’s “concern with human lives” and peoples’ defense of human rights and dignity in resistance to the Duterte regime.

On the issue of environment, he mentioned that “responsible extraction and equitable distribution of natural resources remain non-negotiables” and reiterated once again the need for the passage of the National Land Use Act (NLUA). Yet over the last four years under his administration, land policies have treated land and other natural resources as commodities and sources of profit for private investors. This narrow view of economic efficiency is anchored on the profit-maximizing exploitation of natural resources rather than its equitable distribution, protection, and preservation to advance social and ecological justice.

This is evident, for instance, in the continuing proliferation of mining throughout the country, rising cases of land grabbing and land use conversion in the countryside, the aggressive push for the China-backed Kaliwa Dam—a centerpiece of the Belt and Road Initiative in the Philippines—and many other forms of development aggression that threaten to destroy indigenous peoples’ ancestral domains and livelihoods, plus the reclamation of Manila Bay, which threatens to displace thousands of coastal residents and fisherfolk communities to make way for private businesses to plunder the Commons.

Duterte also stressed that a robust agriculture sector should drive economic growth. In line with this, he cited the “Plant, Plant, Plant” Program, otherwise known as the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) [literally meaning: All Rise, Adequate Food] program, as the government’s COVID-19 response to help reinvigorate the agriculture sector. However, the ALPAS program’s push for rice self-sufficiency and support for procurement of palay from local farmers contradicts the administration’s strong support and implementation of rice importation.

With the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) or the Rice Trade Liberalization Law, the Philippines became the largest importer of rice in the world in 2019 with record purchases reaching 2.9 million metric tons (MT), and there were plans in late March to import more than 300,000 MT of rice by way of the government-to-government scheme to ward off possible depletion of our rice buffer stock. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, rice-producing countries have reviewed their rice exports. Vietnam, for example, temporarily suspended rice export contracts as it assesses its own stockpiles. The plans were later shelved when Vietnam lifted their ban on rice exports. Nevertheless, this exposes the Philippines to the dangers of heavy reliance on importation as a means to secure food. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) estimates that the export bans could raise world rice prices anywhere from 19% (Vietnam), 23% (Cambodia), to as much as 51% (India), or $230 per MT. According to IRRI, “in the worst case scenario, rice price could spike well above the maximum level reached during the 2008 crisis.”

The deplorable neglect of the Filipino small-scale food providers and Philippine agriculture by the Duterte administration—exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 on food and the economy, as well as the government technocrats’ yielding to the dictates of neoliberal free-trade proponents—is a clear manifestation of the disconnect between the government and the people.

A Turning Point

The incompetence and poor leadership of the Duterte administration, as attested to by the recent SONA, along with the people’s indignation and demands for accountability, open opportunities for a progressive turning point, away from the Dutertismo style of governance and toward genuine political, economic, social, and cultural change. Now more than ever, there is a stronger need for us to organize communities, strengthen grassroots solidarities from the ground up, and collectively build alternatives for recovery, renewal, and systemic transformation.

The annual SONA has always been a political event ripe with contrasts. It is an occasion for the President to present the achievements of the administration and frame the policies and the political narrative moving forward. On the other hand, out on the streets, the united actions under the banner of SONAgKAISA (“nagkaisa” means united in Filipino) and the various sectoral and thematic actions articulate a counter-narrative focusing on the perspectives of the marginalized and the unheard and offer a different agenda of social transformation that challenges the status quo, questions government policies and priorities, and condemns the actions or inactions of the State.

There is also a sharp contrast in the optics of power and privilege: the politicians, the generals, the diplomats, and those in the corridors of power in their elegant barongs and filipinianas, comfortably seated inside the air-conditioned halls of Congress—though this time with COVID-19 we saw a much-reduced audience and a less-packed Congress. Meanwhile, the masses march outside under the scorching heat of the sun or sometimes the heavy downpour of rain, the people out in the streets shouting their demands and slogans, demanding to be heard. There is a typical ending to a SONA day: the President, after delivering his or her speech to the aplomb and applause of the crowd, leaves the halls rejuvenated with his or her political muscles flexed and mandate reaffirmed; meanwhile, the protestors finish their own programs, pack their flags, streamers, and placards, and disperse amidst the embers of the burned effigy.

SONA 2020 will be remembered as the day when Duterte’s failed leadership, in the face of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, was fully exposed to the public. The challenge now lies in seizing this opportunity to rise from the ashes of this moribund presidency, build stronger unities to advance the progressive agenda and find the strength to continue the long struggle ahead.

Joseph Purugganan
Head of Office

https://focusweb.org/the-moribund-duterte-presidency/

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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

 

« Older Entries Recent Entries »