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Island wide consultation on the impact of COVID-19 on Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Assembly and Association, and in Civic Space

A year into the pandemic, the Philippines is back to square one as COVID-19 infections continuous to peak. Described as a “highly militarized response”, the Philippine government has utilized COVID-19 restrictions to rationalize old and new forms of human rights violations while using it as barometer to reduce crime rather than addressing it as a public health issue. This militarist approach poses further threat to basic rights and fundamental freedom of the people particularly to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association and the already shrinking civic space in the Philippines. Meanwhile, the government’s continued failure to address the public health crisis has also put the entire nation’s debt to a new high of 10.41 trillion leaving over 4.2 million unemployment Filipinos.

Travel restrictions hampered monitoring and documentation of various threats to basic rights and fundamental freedoms. It became harder for human rights monitors to document impacts of COVID19 restrictions to the daily lives of our citizens in the country. There is an emerging need to counter these threats and empower the civil society, human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists, among others.

The island-wide consultations aim to gather representatives from the region, including sectors such as Moro and indigenous peoples, to discuss the current situation in their respective areas. Moreover, it aims to discuss recommendations from sectors that will form part of the policy paper that will be presented into a national policy dialogue. The national policy dialogue will bring together experts, academe and policymakers to discuss the current state of cooperation between stakeholders to create more responsive and rights-based policies.

• To hold an open and inclusive island-wide consultation on the impact of COVID-19 on Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Assembly and Association, and in Civic Space on the ground

• To obtain consensus and process of participation prior to the national policy dialogue, and

• To discuss recommendations that will be presented to various stakeholders and policymakers towards policies that values human rights around pandemic response


June 3, 2021


July 18, 2021


August 28, 2021