Category Archives: Press Release

[Press Release] KWENTO NATIN ‘TO: Catch these events and be inspired in reclaiming the stories of our nation as we near the 2022 elections | ACTIVE VISTA

#HumanRights #AVFest2021

KWENTO NATIN ‘TO: Catch these events and be inspired in reclaiming the stories of our nation as we near the 2022 elections

With the theme Kwento Natin ‘To: Reclaiming the Stories of our Nation, human rights organization DAKILA jam-packed the Active Vista International Human Rights Festival (AVIHRF) 2021 with events, forums, and film screenings that tell the stories — real and imagined — of our fellow Filipinos. One of the festival’s forums, Press in Distress: Will Independent Journalism Survive in SEA?, also witnessed a historical moment when speaker Maria Ressa, Rappler CEO and president, received the news of her being the first-ever Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize live during the forum.

As the national elections draw near — when warring narratives try to fill our consciousness — DAKILA and Active Vista shall continue to bring forward events on the last two days of the festival that will contribute to shaping and reclaiming the narrative of our nation come the 2022 elections.

So as the festival closes on October 10, invite your friends and family members! We’ve got an epic line-up of relevant events to fill your weekend!

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[Press Release] ATING GURO to file Nomination for Partylist Elections

#HumanRights #Teachers

ATING GURO to file Nomination for Partylist Elections

Teachers’ group ATING GURO Partylist will file its certificate of nomination as well as the individual CONA of its nominees today, October 7.

This despite the Comelec’s initial denial of their petition for accreditation to allow them to participate in next year’s partylist elections. On June 25, the Comelec Second Division dismissed the instant petition filed by the party for two grounds, first that the petition signed by the party’s Public Information Officer (PIO) designated by the party’s governing board as certified by its Chairperson and Secretary-General. And that the party failed to prove that majority of its members belong to the sector it wishes to represent- teachers, active and retired, public and private and their dependents.

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[Press Release] Low wages, attacks on workers rights, hinder fulfillment of decent work agenda | EILER

#HumanRights #Workers

Low wages, attacks on workers rights, hinder fulfillment of decent work agenda – EILER

The country still lags behind on the Decent Work Agenda, according to Labor NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER).

As the domestic employment crisis deepens, more and more workers are forced to engage in irregular, precarious or intermittent employment with lower wages. Widespread joblosses, rampant contractualization, and inadequate decent job opportunities with living wages, are worsened by the militaristic pandemic response and intensified repression against trade union and human rights.

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[Press Release] Healthcare workers harbor doubts about Palace decision to give benefits, assert that the struggle continues | BMP

#HumanRights #Frontliners #Workers

Healthcare workers harbor doubts about Palace decision to give benefits, assert that the struggle continues

Leaders from private hospital unions remain apprehensive on the reported order of President Duterte to the DBM and DOH to give healthworkers the benefits under Bayanihan 2 they have yet to receive within ten (10) days.

According to Jao Clumia, President of the St. Luke’s Medical Center Employees Association – QC (SLMCEA-QC), “Bago po tayo maglulundag sa tuwa sa pangyayaring ito ay kailangan muna nating tiyakin na ang kautusan ng pangulo ay hindi dapat magsilbing malamig na tubig na ipinambuhos sa ngitngit ng mga manggagawang pangkalusugan kungdi isang kongkretong aksyon bilang tugon sa aming mga inihapag na kahilingan. Ang walang diskriminasyong pagpapatupad ng nasasaad na mga benepisyo sa ilalim ng batas: na lahat ng mga manggagagawang pangkalusugan anuman ang posisyon, anuman ang estado sa pag-eempleyo, regular man o kontraktuwal, ay dapat na makatanggap dahil ito naman ang mga nasasaad sa batas na kanyang (Duterte) pinirmahan. Nag-aalala kami dahil hindi ganito ang intindi ni Sec. Duque sa utos ng kanyang amo at tigas-mukha pa ring iginigiit ang selektibo at limitadong pagbibigay ng benepisyo!”

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[Press Release] CHISMIS, EPAL, REKLAMADOR: Artist-activist group bring light to socio-political issues in time for #Halalan2022 | DAKILA

#HumanRights #Halalan2022

CHISMIS, EPAL, REKLAMADOR: Artist-activist group bring light to socio-political issues in time for #Halalan2022

In time for national elections next year and in observance of the International Youth Day on August 12, artist-activist group Dakila, along with Active Vista and We the Future, tackles various human rights and socio-political issues relevant to Philippine society through Ibang Klase Rin — a 15-20 minute digital program with three stand-alone episodes.

The episodes entitled Mga Marites Noon at Ngayon, Cancel Mo Mukha Mo, and Araw Gabi Laglag Pantry tackle historical revisionism and disinformation, good governance, and civic spaces, respectively. It aims to provide historical facts and insights on our current societal context to battle the anti-democratic narratives, especially as the country nears Halalan 2022.

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[Press Release] Indigenous Women marked five years of Duterte with climate of ‘Fear’ and widespread ‘Violence’ | LILAK

#HumanRights #IndigenousPeoples

Indigenous Women marked five years of Duterte with climate of ‘Fear’ and widespread ‘Violence’

In commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, indigenous women mark President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime with endless hardships, poverty, climate of fear, and widespread violations of human rights. They recount how they experienced constant fear and continuous intimidation throughout Duterte’s five years in office.

According to Jennevie Cornelio, a Teduray leader from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), fear and violence were the core foundations of Duterte’s rule, and war was his weapon to villainize, harass, torture, and kill his perceived enemies.

“The NTF-ELCAC, E.O. 70, the Anti-Terrorism Act, military deployment in BARMM and indigenous communities all over the country – these are all systematic attacks against us indigenous women human rights defenders. We defend our rights as indigenous people and as women, and every day we live in constant fear,” said Cornelio.

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[Press Release] Labor NGO urges DTI to put on hold price increases | EILER

#HumanRights #Workers

Labor NGO urges DTI to put on hold price increases

A Labor NGO urges the Department of Trade and Industry to put on hold the price increases of basic necessities which are set at 3-5 percent.

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) emphasizes that instead of price increases, the government should immediately provide additional support to MSMEs, improve vaccine roll-out, provide wage relief to the workers, and ayuda for all affected as ECQ will be implemented by the end of the week.

“The number of jobless Filipinos has increased in June. Given the spread of the Delta variant and considering that many workers have not recovered from losing their jobs, the price increases will make it more difficult for the workers and the working poor to live decently,” said EILER Executive Director Rochelle Porras.

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[Press Release] Protect Human Health and the Environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) | EcoWaste Coalition

#HumanRights #Health #Environment

Groups: Protect Human Health and the Environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Environmental health groups today urged national and local authorities to give priority to zero waste strategies that prevent and reduce the generation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), a class of highly hazardous synthetic chemicals.

The EcoWaste Coalition, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) and Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) together made the call in observance of the 17th anniversary of the entry into force of the Stockholm Convention on POPs last May 17, 2004.

The treaty, which counts on the Philippines among its state parties, seeks to protect human health and the environment from POPs through a range of measures aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating their releases to the environment. Among these POPs are unintentionally produced pollutants such as dioxins and furans resulting from combustion and industrial processes, including the open burning of trash, the incineration of municipal, medical and hazardous wastes, and cement kilns firing hazardous waste.

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[Press Release] Identified CARP Beneficiaries’ homes demolished amid pandemic | SANAMABASU

#HumanRights #LandRights

Identified CARP Beneficiaries’ homes demolished amid pandemic

Hermosa Bataan – Members of the the Samahang Nagkakaisang Magsasaka ng Barangay Sumalo (SANAMABASU) urgently calls the national government through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to intervene to suspend the ejectment/demolition orders issued by the Dinalupihan Regional Trial Court, for humanitarian reasons amid the threats posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. This was after several houses were demolished by property developer Riverforest Development Corporation (RDC) last Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

The said decision will also affect more than 50 prospective Comprehensive Agrarian Reform (CARP) beneficiaries, 18 of whom are slated for ejectment in the coming weeks. This ejectment order proceeded despite an appeal already filed by SANAMABASU in the Court of Appeals.

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[Press Release] Non-Moro IPs say NO TO BTA EXTENSION | LOYUKAN

#HumanRights #IndigenouPeoples

Non-Moro IPs say NO TO BTA EXTENSION

A broad coalition of solidarity groups and non-Moro Indigenous Peoples (NMIPs) advocating for the full-inclusion of NMIP rights in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has expressed its opposition to the extension of

Bangsamoro Transition process.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) provided for a three-year transition process from 2019-2022, after which the first regular election for the Bangsamoro Government under this Organic Law shall be held and synchronized with the 2022 national elections. There are proposals however in both Houses of Congress calling to postpone the conduct of the BARMM elections.

“The extension could have ramifications for the more than 127,000 Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples (NMIPs), living in 208,258 hectares of ancestral domains that overlap with the Bangsamoro territory given the number of killings and massive displacement from their ancestral lands since the start of the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” LOYUKAN said in their statement.

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[Press Release] EcoWaste Coalition Fights for Waste Workers’ Occupational Safety and Health as COVID-19 Cases Breach One Million Mark

#HumanRights #Workers #Safety #Health

EcoWaste Coalition Fights for Waste Workers’ Occupational Safety and Health as COVID-19 Cases Breach One Million Mark

As COVID-19 cases in the country breached the one million mark, a waste and pollution watchdog group called attention to the necessity of segregating waste at source to promote and protect the occupational safety and health of waste workers.

In a statement issued on the eve of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the need to separate COVID-19 waste and other pathogenic waste from recyclable and compostable materials to keep waste workers, especially the informal recyclers, safe from harm caused by exposure to the novel coronavirus and other pathogens.

“We reiterate our plea to all waste generators to separate discarded materials at the point of generation to keep our environmental frontliners such as the waste workers safe from COVID-19 and other diseases,” stated Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

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[Press Release] TDC, muling nanawagan sa DEPED na istriktong ipatupad ang work from home scheme sa mga guro

#HumanRights #Teachers #Covid19ph

TDC, muling nanawagan sa DEPED na istriktong ipatupad ang work from home scheme sa mga guro

Matapos ang muling pagtaas ng kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa at ang pagsasailalim ng Metro Manila at mga karatig-lalawigan sa mas mahigpit quarantine rules, muling nanawagan ang TDC sa pamunuan ng DepEd na ipatupad ang alternative work arrangement (AWA) partikular ang work-from-home scheme.

“Expose na expose po ang mga guro natin sa virus dahil sa iba’t ibang mga gawain gaya ng face to seminars at meetings na puwede naman sanang gawing virtual. Mayroon ding ilang nire-require for home visitation maliban pa sa distribution at retrieval ng modules,” pahayag ni Benjo Basas, Pambansang Tagapangulo ng TDC.

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[Press Release] A year under lockdown: workers’ condition worse than before | EILER

#HumanRights #Workers #COVID19ph

A year under lockdown: workers’ condition worse than before — labor NGO

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) is dismayed at the government’s failed pandemic response and for leaving the workers behind, a year after implementing the Enhanced Community Quarantine or ECQ.

Recent government data showed an increase in the annual unemployment rate up to 10.3 per cent, the highest recorded annual unemployment in 15 years (2020 Annual Preliminary Estimates of LFS). Before this, the unemployment rate reached an all-time high of 17.7% in April of 2020.

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[Press Release] Environmental Advocates’ Plea: Stop Activist Killings | EcoWaste Coalition

#HumanRights #Environment #Killings

Environmental Advocates’ Plea: Stop Activist Killings

Responding to the brutal killings of nine activists last March 7, environmental advocates pressed the government to ensure that the lives and liberties of those peacefully exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed rights are upheld and protected.

“As the fight for Mother Earth is a fight for her children too, the EcoWaste Coalition condemns the spate of politically-linked killings that have claimed the lives of activists working for and with the marginalized sectors,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, including the nine activists who perished from the bloodbath last Sunday following joint police-military operations in CALABARZON.

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[Press Release] Apela ng mga guro sa DEPED, pagpahingahin niyo naman kami! | TDC

#HumanRights #Teachers

Apela ng mga guro sa DEPED, pagpahingahin niyo naman kami!
Virtual training na panonoorin sa youtube, hiniling na ipatigil

Mariing tinututulan ng mga guro sa pampublikong paaralan ang balak na pagsasagawa ng in-service training (INSET) ng Department of Education (DepEd) sa pamamagitan ng maghapong panonood lang sa YouTube sa loob ng isang linggo mula Marso 15 hanggang Marso 19.

“Hindi na nga magkandaugaga sa napakaraming trabaho ang mga guro ay ayaw pa rin kaming tigilan ng DepEd. Kung ang kalabaw at makina ay kailangang magpahinga, lalo pa ang mga guro dahil tao kami,” sabi ni Emmalyn Policarpio, guro sa Valenzuela City at Secretary-General ng Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC).

Dagdag pa ni Policarpio ay tila hindi umano nauunawaan ng pamunuan ng DepEd ang kalagayan ng mga guro na sa kasalukuyan ay hindi pa nga nakatatapos sa mga gawain ay dinagdagan na naman. Matatandaang nagkaroon ng adjustment sa school calendar ang DepEd sa pamamagitan ng isang kautusan ni Sec. Leonor Briones noong Marso 2 na nagsasabing magkakaroon ng karagdagang dalawang linggong remediation at intervention activities ang mga guro mula Marso 1 hanggang Marso 12 at sa Marso 15 hanggang 19 naman ay isasagawa ang school-based in-service training o INSET.

“Nagulat na lamang kami na biglang may lumabas na memo na nagsasbaing ang INSET sa March 15-19 ay magmumula sa DepEd Central Office at kami ay obligadong manood sa YouTube maghapon sa loob ng limang araw. Ito ba ay mas produktibo kesa sa iba naming gawain gaya ng pag-check sa modules, paggawa ng grades ng mga bata at mga reports na kailangang isumite?” Tanong ni Policarpio. “Dito pa lamang sa mga ito ay wala nang pahinga ang mga guro dadagdagan pa nila,” ayon muli sa kanya.

Ayon sa DepEd ay pinalawig ng halos isang buwan ang school calendar upang maisaayos ang learning gaps at mabigyan din ng pahinga ang mga batang mag-aaral. Ang sagot naman sa TDC ay dapat din umanong bigyan ng pahinga ang mga guro.

Sinegundahan naman ito ni Juanito Dona, Jr., Secretary-General ng Ating Guro Partylist (AGP). Ayon sa kanya, “Mawawalan ng saysay ang training na ito ukol sa online teaching sapagkat mas marami sa mga mag-aaral sa public school ay modular distance learning ang napiling modality. Kung sakali mang kailangan ang ganitong training, maaari naman itong gawin sa hinaharap, hindi ngayong panahon na ito.”

Nababahala rin umano ang AGP sa sitwasyon ngayon ng mga guro na tila ba wala nang patid sa paggampan sa kanilang trabaho na maaaring naisasakripisyo na ang kanilang kalusugan.

“Ang santambak na clerical tasks, online meetings, webinars at pisikal na mga trabaho ay maaaring makasama sa kalusugan ng ating mga guro. Idagdag pa ang stress na dulot ng pandemya, baka kailangan muna nating tiyakin ang kalusugan ng mga guro- physically, psychologically at mentally,” dagdag pa ni Dona.

Ayon pa rin sa dalawang grupo ay hindi man lang umano kinunsulta ang mga guro hinggil sa planong ito ng DepEd o tinanong man lang nila ang opinyon o damdamin ng mga karaniwang guro na araw-araw humaharap sa mga pagsubok magampanan lamang ang kanilang tungkulin.

“Sana naman po ay pakinggan ng ating Kalihim Liling Briones ang aming hinaing at agad na niyang ipatigil ang INSET na ito at hayaan na lamang magpasya ang mga paaralan at indibidwal na mga guro sa kung paanong paraan nila magagawa ang kanilang mga trabaho. At kung maaari sana ay ideklara na lamang na pahinga ng mga guro ang isang linggong ito,” ayon muli kay Policarpio.

Bagamat hinihingi ng mga guro ang isang linggong break, ayon sa kanila ay hindi rin umano ito masasabing pahinga sapagkat kailangan pa rin nilang tapusin ang mga gawain matapos ang second quarter.

Samatala, pormal nang umapela sa DepEd ang TDC hinggil sa bagay na ito, ayon sa sulat ni TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas kay Sec. Briones, “We therefore appeal to your office to withdraw the said memorandum which forces our 900, 000 teachers to participate in a virtual INSET via YouTube, cancel this plan for now and give teachers time to breathe, a little at least, while doing other paperwork. And while contemplating the details of the next INSET, perhaps the department could give better efforts at providing for internet expense of teachers. Internet connection exceeds ₱1,000 a month yet the miniscule ₱300 monthly communication expenses reimbursement promised under DepEd Order No. 38, s. 2020 have yet to be realized in many schools.”

Isang online petition din ang magkasamang inilunsad ng TDC at AGP para kumalap ng suporta ng mga guro.#

For details:

Emmlayn Policarpio, TDC Secretary-General, 0923-0819751
JR Dona, Ating Guro Partylist Secretary-General, 0965-5470700

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[Press Release] Kapangyarihan ng Kababaihan, Women’s Response to Duterte | World March of Women

#HumanRights #IntlWomensDay2021

On the Occasion of March 8 Celebration
Kapangyarihan ng Kababaihan, Women’s Response to Duterte

Photo from World March of Women

Over one hundred and fifty (150) women showed up at Plaza Miranda this morning beating drums, chanting “Kami ay Peminista, Hindi Terorista.”

“The pandemic has shown the strength of Filipino women not only to cope with but overcome the multiple responsibilities we carry and roles we undertake in the family and household, in the workplace, at the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, in various civic and political spaces despite the threat of the virus and while limited by the adherence to health protocols,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo, National Coordinator of WomanHealth Philippines.

On the other hand, Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) and National Coordinator of World March of Women (WMW), asserted that “the health crisis, too, has further unmasked the Duterte regime.” “It has exposed its weak leadership—with its failure in governance and to address the social-economic crises exacerbated by the pandemic,” according to the WMW statement.“It could only cover up this failure with increased brutality through its security forces, as seen in police harassment of ordinary people while those in authority could violate social and health protocols with impunity, in terrorist-tagging that has led to the murder of activists and civilians, in intensified military operations among urban and rural communities, and in repeatedly dismissing women’s capacity for leadership,” added Enriquez.

“Babae and hardest hit ng pandemya. Siya rin ang matapang napumapasan ng mahihirap na trabaho sa frontlines, kahit tanggalanng trabaho ang dala ng pandemya,” said Judy Ann Chan-Miranda of Partido Manggagawa. More women lost their jobs compared to men, 1.7 times more in most countries, according to the International Labor Organization. In a developing country such as the Philippines, where majority of women work in the informal or invisible sector, they have been the most affected, explained Miranda.

“Sa panahon ng ganitong krisis, nakakalungkot na ang perspektibang kasarian ang napagwawalang-bahala. Sa pag-aayos ng mgaproblema ng bansa, mahalaga na tugunan ang di-pagkakapantay-pantay na nararanasan ng kababaihan,” asserted Myrna Jimenezof Sarilaya. It is extremely important that women are not left behind during this pandemic. For us, there is really no better time to get involved and fight for our rights but now,” Jimenez added.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has aggravated other social-political issues in the country especially those affecting and confronted by indigenous peoples.

“The pandemic and climate change have worsened food insecurity among indigenous communities,” said Judy Pasimio of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights). Indigenous women continue to defend their lands and rights, as food providers and defenders of women human rights, against destructive mining operations, industrial plantations, and mega-dams—industries which destroy food sources of indigenous and rural communities, according to Pasimio. “While they face state accusations that they are terrorists or sympathizers of terrorists, they continue to care for their communities and to struggle,” she added. “Amidst the pandemic, they continue to fight,” said Pasimio.

“But opposite the kind of power that the Duterte regime wields—the kind that oppresses and even kills, the kind that steps on the interest of ordinary people, mocks and manipulates legitimate grievances of the public, promotes and entrenches the political and economic elite, and the kind that betrays national interest to connive with foreign interest—is woman power, the kind that liberates from oppression, engenders social-economic and political equality, fights against all forms of discrimination and marginalization, and promotes human dignity,” according to the WMW statement. “Feminism is the kind of power that is not afraid; that emboldens women to be at the frontlines, to be leaders and warriors, to dream, fight for, and realize genuine change,” the grassroots feminist movement added. The action included survivors of prostitution and women relatives of extra-judicial killings, all wearing purple and chanting “Kamingmga Babae, Laging Umaabante.”

“We, women together with a broader labor movement would like our government to invest their energy and resources to develop a robust public employment program,” said Michelle Lising, Chairperson of Sentro Women’s Council. “This is needed to address the deep economic crisis, and such policies should include climate jobs, employment and income guarantees,” added Lising.

The Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) is also calling for more long-term support and protection for overseas Filipino workers and migrants, among whom majority of women have been the most adversely affected by the pandemic and corresponding lockdowns in countries around the globe. “There should be more long-term assistance for our Filipinos working abroad who were displaced by the pandemic as well as policies that will ensure for their sustainable protection especially against abuse of women,” said Ellene Sana, Executive Director of CMA.

“Five years after Rodrigo Duterte got elected as president, women’s situation in the Philippines worsened,” claimed Jelen Paclarin, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB). “Women who criticized Duterte’s blatant remarks and wrongdoings have experienced denigration, vilification, and became the central topic of his sexist jokes to entertain people or divert the issue fired at him,” added Paclarin. According to WLB, with this kind of leadership and pronouncements, Duterte has solidified that stereotyping, shaming, and silencing women is normal and acceptable in our society. “President Duterte continues to disregard the rights of women as guaranteed by the 1987 PhilippineConstitution and their important role in nation-building,” said Paclarin.

Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) Executive Director Liza Garcia also shared the significance of online spaces in women’s rights: “Violence against women committed online have spiked in 2020 by up to 165%, based on our data mapping results: Women are still being targeted with sextortion, non-consensual circulation of intimate images, and sexual threats. Reports of deepfaked videos and photos of women, and disinformation against women human rights defenders also continue to surface.” “These persistent threats impede women from fully exercising online the same human rights that they have offline,” according to Garcia. “If left unaddressed, the gender gaps and existing violence online is tantamount to allowing the ICTs to be just as oppressive as the many forces offline that hinder women from progress,” she said. “Not only is a VAW-free Internet vital to women’s meaningful connectivity, it is also part and parcel of making safe spaces for women and supporting the gender equality that we are all striving towards,” added Garcia.

#BabaeMakapangyarihan was the hashtag used by the group in posting International Women’s Day captions.

Contact Persons : Jean Enriquez 09778105326, Judy Miranda 09175570777

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[Press Release] TDC welcomes dismissal of DEPED plan to reduce teachers’ vacation period

#HumanRights #Teachers

TDC welcomes dismissal of DEPED plan to reduce teachers’ vacation period

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) welcomes the statement from the Department of Education (DepEd) that it will no longer pursue the plan to impose a “two-week vacation” prior to the opening of the next school year.

“Teachers, by tradition and by rules are entitled to a two-month school break and the DepEd cannot just disregard this, it’s a matter of right,” said TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas.

In a radio interview this morning, Dr. Diosdado San Antonio, Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction said that the agency will no longer propose a two-week break between school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 following criticisms from netizens opposing the plan, which made the matter a trending topic in several social media platforms last week.

The TDC earlier said that a school break of only two weeks between two academic years is unacceptable especially that distance learning has been physically, mentally and psychologically exhausting both for teachers and learners.

Yesterday, the DepEd has released the DepEd Order No. 12, s. 2021 providing for the new schedule of activities under the current school year, extending it further to July 10, among other changes. Said Order, however does not provide for the school break between the SY 2020-2021 and SY 2021-2022.

“Since there are now changes in the schedule, the two-month break should be adjusted as well,” Basas ended.

Basas said that this is only a proof that DepEd can make sound policies if they will listen to their stakeholders, especially the teachers. In a hearing of the Senate Education Committee this morning, Basas reiterated that DepEd should include the teachers, the front liners in education sector in crafting its policies. #

For details:
Benjo Basas, National Chairperson
0927-3356375
NEWS RELEASE
March 3, 2021

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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.

[Press Release] Toxics Watchdog Group Exposes Online Sale of Chemical Whiteners Laced with Mercury | EcoWaste Coalition

#HumanRights #Environment

Toxics Watchdog Group Exposes Online Sale of Chemical Whiteners Laced with Mercury
(EcoWaste Coalition cautions consumers against mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in the wake of 3.3. online shopping spree)

Photo by EcoWaste Coalition

The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition today released a new report revealing the unethical and unlawful use of online shopping and social media sites to sell skin bleaching, lightening or whitening products containing mercury, a dangerous poison banned in cosmetic product formulations.

The advocacy group for a zero waste and toxics-free society launched the report “Toxic Exposé: Online Trade of Mercury-Containing Skin Whitening Cosmetics in the Philippines” ahead of the 3.3 (which is equivalent to March 3) online shopping bonanza by e-commerce giants Lazada and Shopee.

The group conducted the investigation to generate data that will help stem both the supply and demand for mercury-containing cosmetics and promote the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which phased-out in 2020 cosmetics such as skin lightening creams and soaps with mercury above one part per million (ppm).

Of the 65 samples procured from online dealers and subsequently screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, 40 were found to contain mercury above 1 ppm. Of these 40 samples, 38 had mercury in excess of 1,000 ppm, 25 with over 5,000 ppm, 19 with more than 15,000 ppm, and 5 were loaded with mercury above 25,000 ppm. None of the 65 samples are duly notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“The results of our investigation should push online shopping and social media sites to strictly disallow and monitor the use of their far-reaching platforms to advertise and sell adulterated, counterfeit and unauthorized cosmetics such as those with mercury content,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“To avoid being harmed by mercury in cosmetics, we appeal to all Filipinos to accept our natural skin color, refuse chemical whiteners, and resist color-based bias, prejudice and discrimination,” he emphasized.

“The recommendations arising from the study, we hope, will contribute to the active implementation of the National Action Plan for the Phase-Out of Mercury-Added Products and the Management of Associated Mercury-Containing Wastes,” Dizon added, “despite the understandable focus of the government and the society on addressing the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic to people’s health and the economy.” The said plan was adopted in 2019 with inputs from concerned stakeholders, including the EcoWaste Coalition.

Dr. Geminn Louis C. Apostol, Assistant Professor at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, warned consumers that “mercury-added skin whitening products are poison cosmetics that can damage the kidneys, reduce skin’s ability to resist bacterial and fungal infections, and cause a variety of dermal problems such as discoloration, rashes and scarring,” adding that “the disposal of mercury in such products through the wastewater also pollutes our rivers and the oceans and consequently contaminates the food chain.”

“Ecowaste Coalition has exposed a gaping hole in the regulation of adulterated cosmetics containing the dangerous neurotoxin mercury. Their chemical analysis of skin-lightening creams sold through online platforms, leaves no doubt that consumers are being exposed to mercury at levels that can impair their health and that of their unborn children,” stated Lee Bell, Mercury Adviser of the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), which includes the EcoWaste Coalition among its participating organizations.

“Philippines regulators should launch an immediate crackdown on the sale of these toxic cosmetic products through online platforms and dedicate resources to monitor and identify the suppliers and distributors. There should also be cooperation and information sharing with governments of countries where the mercury laden cosmetics are produced and exported to stop this trade at its source,” he suggested.

To safeguard women‘s health and put a stop to the unlawful trade and consumption of poison cosmetics with mercury, the EcoWaste Coalition has put forward the following recommendations:

— For consumers to shun chemical whiteners, embrace their natural skin color with pride and stand up to color-based bias, prejudice and discrimination, and for those who prefer to lighten their skin tone to reject unauthorized cosmetics that may contain mercury, hydroquinone and other harmful substances.

— For the cosmetics industry to move away from white-centric concepts and ideals of beauty, and promote diversity in beauty instead, including the inherent beauty of one’s natural skin color.

— For e-commerce platforms and social media sites to ban the sale of adulterated, counterfeit and unauthorized cosmetics and for them to keep an eye on and take down non-compliant product ads.

— For the government to strengthen laws and regulations that will regulate and monitor online trade and protect consumers against hazardous products such as mercury-containing cosmetics, and for the authorities to ensure the environmentally sound management of mercury-added products and their wastes.

Prior to its public release, the EcoWaste Coalition provided a copy of “Toxic Exposé” to the FDA for its reference and action.

The said report is part of the group’s “Project Toxic-Free for Human Rights and Sustainable Development in the Philippines” supported by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC).

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[Press Release] DEPED asked to officially clarify the reported extension of SY 2020-2021 | TDC

#HumanRights #Teachers

DEPED asked to officially clarify the reported extension of SY 2020-2021

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) has asked the DepEd to officially respond to a circulating Facebook and SMS message from unknown sources which claims that there will be changes in the schedules of the on-going school year beginning today, March 1, 2021.

“May we respectfully ask your office about the veracity of the said message which is widely circulating since last week,” said Benjo Basas, TDC National Chairperson in a letter addressed to DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones.

The message, TDC said is purportedly an “important announcement and instruction” from a certain “RD” that based on the “ManCom” meeting last February 24, an academic break from March 1 to March 12 will be imposed and an “Inset” for teachers is set on March 15 to March 19. Furthermore, the message announced that the schedule of Quarters 3 and 4 will be moved to March 22 to May 15 and May 17 to July 10, respectively. Finally, it says that the new closing date for the current school year is on July 10, 2021.

The source of the message, however is still unknown, whether there is a ManCom (Management Committee) meeting of the DepEd is yet to be confirmed by the authorities. Earlier though, the DepEd through Dr. Diosdado San Antonio, the undersecretary in-charge for curriculum and instruction said that the agency is planning to extend the current school year and provide a “two-week summer break” before the start of school year 2021-2022. The proposal met criticisms from the teachers and the general public and even became a trending topic in social media.

Basas said that they have received several queries on the legitimacy of the message but could not confirm if it was really coming from a DepEd official as the text would claim. Thus, the group urged the DepEd to release official memorandum or statement so as not to further create confusion in the field. He said that there were reports that teachers were told to prepare for the two-week academic break for learners and in-service training for teachers and that classes will resume on March 22. The general instruction from school officials in the field still, was to wait for an official memorandum.

“Clearly, there are conflicting instructions. And we hope the DepEd would immediately clear this matter to prevent further confusion in the field,” Basas said emphasizing that both the learners and teachers need such break. “We believe that we should give our students a break from taxing academic activities and our teachers from stressful and physically exhausting tasks,” he added.

The TDC also asked the DepEd about its plans on the opening date of school year 2021-2022, according the group, the planned ‘two-week break’ between the two academic years “will not be acceptable.”

“Teachers are entitled to a two-month school break and if the DepEd will modify the scheduled end of current school year, they should also provide for a two-month vacation for our teachers who have been tirelessly working since June 1 of 2020,” Basas ended.

The TDC once again has formally asked the DepEd management for a dialogue to discuss this and other equally important matters. #

For details:
Benjo Basas, 09273356375
NEWS REALEASE
March 1, 2021

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[Press Release] Youth decries DepEd ‘heartless’ distance learning proposal -SPARK

#HumanRights #Education

Youth decries DepEd ‘heartless’ distance learning proposal

A campus group slammed the Department of Education (DepEd) for its suggestion that the summer break in the school year be shortened to two weeks to make way for adjustments in the distance learning academic calendar.

DepEd undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio had made the comments in an interview on 24 Oras, while also explaining that the matter was still up for discussion.
But Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), an activist youth organization, called the proposal “stupid”; claiming that it would only further turn learning under the COVID-19 pandemic into a privilege.

“We strongly doubt that the solution to the problem of inaccessible online classes, is to simply hold more online classes,” Justin Dizon, SPARK spokesperson for senior and junior high students, said in a statement.

“After months of students, teachers, workers, and parents calling for a pause to the academic year, the fact that DepEd comes up with the solution of extending the year just proves how little they care about their constituents or how much they know of its impacts,” he added.

SPARK pointed to the case of Susan Collano, DepEd’s regional director for Catanduanes, brushing off a student’s suicide as further proof that the department did not care about learning or students’ welfare.

Collano had questioned whether the suicide of a 10-year-old Grade 4 student was really linked to the pressure of completing modules, despite the original Facebook poster clearly stating it to be the case.

“Collano’s heartless attitude aligns perfectly with that of [DepEd Secretary Leonor] Briones’ last year, when she called for the public not to link the spate of student suicides to online learning,” Dizon pointed out.

“Instead of addressing the issue by creating policies that made online learning free, more accessible and less stressful, they prefer to wash the blood off their hands. Education officials must ponder on the thirty-four lives they have struck down,” he added.

The group further demanded that no efforts to return to a “normal” setup must be made without the safety of students being the primary consideration as COVID cases now stand at 559,288 with 2,40 new infections.

“No matter where Briones is pulling her 50% numbers from, throwing students back into schools right now would simply be asking them to get infected with COVID-19,” the activist explained.

“All students must first be vaccinated. Schools and their environments should first be retrofitted in order to ensure the safety of the students, teachers, and workers–and all without charging the students a single centavo,” he warned.

SPARK has launched multiple campaigns regarding distance learning, including multiple calls for a nationwide academic break in the wake of the failure of the distance learning scheme.

They continue to push for key reforms in the education sector’s “new normal” to adapt to the changing environment.

NoStudentLeftBehind

Press Release
February 21, 2021
Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK)
Ref. Justin Dizon

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