Tag Archives: European Union

[People] Duterte has forfeited the Philippines’ EU trade privileges -by Joseph Purugganan

Duterte has forfeited the Philippines’ EU trade privileges

By Joseph Purugganan

File Photo from Focus on the Global South website

In 2014, Trade Justice Pilipinas supported the Philippines’ pursuit of favorable trade privileges from the EU, hoping they would deter human rights abuses. Six years later, that hope has disappeared, and so should those privileges.

On 17 September, the European Parliament issued a resolution expressing its “deep concern over the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines under Duterte”. The resolution condemned the “thousands of extra-judicial killings and other serious human rights violations related to the so-called war-on-drugs” and the “threats, harassment, intimidation, rape and violence against those who seek to expose allegations of extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations in the country”.

While many of the points raised in the Resolution were addressed to the Philippine government, some were directed toward the European Commission – the principal executive body of the European Union. In Item 20 of the resolution, the European Parliament “calls on the European Commission, in the absence of any substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities, to immediately initiate the procedure which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ preferences”.

The Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) program was granted by the EU to the Philippines in 2014 to incentivize sustainable development and good governance. It allows duty-free entry of more than 6,000 exports from the Philippines to the EU. These privileges were granted on condition of the Philippine government’s fulfillment of its obligations under 27 conventions on human and labor rights. As cited in the resolution, for 2019 alone, trade preferences were given to 25 percent of Philippine exports to the EU, amounting to around 2 billion euros.

Duterte’s lieutenants responded to the European Parliament’s resolution by downplaying the concerns it raised.

“No reason for the EU to revoke these privileges,” said Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

“They have descended to the level of stupidity,” said foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., referring to the European Parliament.

These flippant retorts of Duterte’s deputies are to be expected. Duterte has built his personal brand upon open defiance in the face of criticism, especially of his human rights record. More startling, however, was the response of Harry Roque, a former human rights lawyer who now serves as Duterte’s spokesperson, who said: “If they want to add to the burden of the Filipino nation during this pandemic, so be it, so be it. We will accept that as history repeating itself.”

Roque recognizes the importance of GSP+ privileges to the Philippine economy, yet he lays the blame for their potential withdrawal upon the European Parliament. He appears to be in need of a reminder that the Philippine government only secured those privileges in the first place by accepting the conditions that the government is now brazenly violating.

Roque’s retort exposes the rot at the topmost levels of the Philippine government. In the face of all criticism, this government consistently opts to shoot the messenger rather than look inward and alter its behavior. The government responded similarly to the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in July, which expressed concerns over “widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity.” There was no acknowledgement of shortcomings or failures, nor any commitment to correct mistakes or fulfill obligations.

Trade Justice Pilipinas (TJP), a platform convened by Focus on the Global South campaigning for just trade and investment policies, has been monitoring the Philippines’ GSP+ status from the start. When the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was preparing its application in 2014, it sought TJP’s help in securing the support of our allies in Europe for the Philippine government’s bid.

We supported the government’s application for two main reasons:

We felt any positive conditionality that could push the government to fulfill its international human and labor rights obligations should be supported.
We recognized the potential economic benefit that could arise from increased market access, which we were hoping would also benefit workers in the sectors covered by the GSP+ program.

But just as we advocated for the granting of these privileges when it seemed the conditions would be met, we have advocated just as forcefully for their withdrawal since it became obvious that the Philippine government has no interest in meeting these conditions.

The European Parliament’s resolution to withdraw the Philippines’ GSP+ status follows years of sustained advocacy at home by Trade Justice Pilipinas, the Trade Justice and Corporate Accountability Cluster of the Asia Europe Peoples’ Forum (AEPF), and the Germany-based Action Network for Human Rights (AMP), among other international networks.

In 2018, Trade Justice Pilipinas stated that “the human rights dimension must be stressed and strengthened further as a cornerstone of EU-Philippines relations”, and we called on the EU to “prove its commitment to human rights by reiterating human rights provisions in future agreements, including the proposed EU-Philippines free trade agreement. Otherwise, it risks eroding further [the EU’s] already diminished image as a defender of human rights and, at worst, highlights its complicity in the violations and atrocities being committed by the Duterte administration”.

In 2019, we issued another statement noting that under EU regulations, “where a GSP+ beneficiary country no longer fulfills the conditions or withdraws any of its binding undertakings, the Commission shall be empowered to adopt a delegated act…to remove that country from the list of GSP+ beneficiary countries”. We further noted that the regulations “allow for temporary withdrawal of the trade preferences for, among others, serious and systematic violation of principles laid down in the conventions”. The statement concluded with a call for the EU Commission “to immediately commence the withdrawal procedure of the trade preferences granted under the GSP+ mechanism”.

In 2020, we joined other human rights groups and networks in an open letter addressed to EU Trade Commissioner Paul Hogan that reiterated our concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines under Duterte and reminded the Commission of the findings of its own assessment reports:

In the GSP+ assessment reports on the Philippines covering the periods of 2016-2017 and 2018-2019, the Commission had already expressed grave concern regarding the human rights situation in the country. We underlined the fact that the latest assessment report already highlighted a number of concerning issues including the war on drugs, shrinking civil space, the attacks against human rights defenders, the possible lowering of the minimum age of legal liability, and the reintroduction of the death penalty. The report even concluded by stating: “The campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines continues to be a matter of grave concern, in particular a large number of related killings and prison overcrowding. Reintroducing the death penalty for drug-related offenses would be a worrying development and constitute a violation of the ICCPR’s Second Optional Protocol.”

To be clear, the European Parliament resolution will not cause the withdrawal or suspension of the GSP+ privileges; only the European Commission has the power to initiate this process. However, the resolution sends a very strong challenge to the Commission to live up to its responsibilities under the program.

There is now an urgency to the call for the withdrawal of GSP+ privileges. While conservative estimates place the number of extrajudicial drug-related killings at around 8,000, there is no official public record and no way to count killings that the police have not begun to investigate. Moreover, the death toll continues to rise as the government enjoys complete impunity for its deadly and useless war on drugs.

Roque wants to blame the EU for inflicting additional pain on the Philippines while the country reels from the impact of COVID-19, but he shows no remorse for the extrajudicial killings that have gone unchecked since the start of the pandemic. This is a government addicted to blaming others for its own misdeeds. To Roque and Duterte, human rights defenders are to blame for tarnishing the image of the country, and the EU is to blame for potentially damaging the economy.

The truth is the opposite. Just as the economic hardship afflicting Filipinos is a consequence of the government’s failed policies, the future losses triggered by the withdrawal of GSP+ privileges would be a consequence of the government’s ongoing human rights abuses.

We supported the previous government’s bid for GSP+ when it committed to upholding the dignity of its citizens. Now that Duterte and his cronies have abandoned that commitment, they have no one to blame for the fallout than themselves.

Joseph Purugganan is head of the Philippines office at Focus on the Global South.

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[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

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[Statement] Sombath Somphone one year on: 62 NGOs call for a new investigation into his enforced disappearance. -FIDH

Sombath Somphone one year on: 62 NGOs call for a new investigation into his enforced disappearance
December 13, 2013

We, the undersigned 62 regional and international organizations, express outrage over the Lao Government’s ongoing failure to shed light on the enforced disappearance of prominent activist and civil society leader Sombath Somphone.

sombath_somphone

December 15, 2013 marks the one-year anniversary of Sombath’s disappearance. Sombath was last seen on the evening of December 15, 2012 in Vientiane. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showed that police stopped Sombath’s car at a police post. Within minutes after being stopped, unknown individuals forced him into another vehicle and drove away. Analysis of the CCTV footage shows that Sombath was taken away in the presence of police officers. This fact supports a finding of government complicity.

Despite the Lao Government’s pledge to “thoroughly and seriously” investigate Sombath’s disappearance [1], the authorities’ probe has been inadequate and unproductive. On January 18, 2013, 65 NGOs signed a joint letter to Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong to express their concern over Sombath’s disappearance. Since then and in spite of widespread international calls for his return, including from the European Union (EU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) parliamentarians, the USA and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sombath’s whereabouts remain unknown and there has been no progress in the investigation into the circumstances of his enforced disappearance. In addition, the authorities have rejected offers of technical assistance to analyze the CCTV footage.

For the past 30 years, Sombath has pushed tirelessly for expansion for civil society space and rights of the rural poor and young people to have a voice in the development of Lao society and governance. Shortly before his disappearance, Sombath played a key role in organising the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF), a civil society forum that preceded the official Asia-Europe Summit Meeting. At the forum, discussions on land and water issues, and poorly regulated FDIs which threatened people’s livelihoods were discussed openly for the first time in Laos.

Sombath’s enforced disappearance is not an isolated incident. To this day, the whereabouts of nine people, two women, Kingkeo and Somchit, as well as seven men, Soubinh, Souane, Sinpasong, Khamsone, Nou, Somkhit, and Sourigna, arbitrarily detained by Lao security forces in November 2009 in various locations across the country remain unknown. The nine had planned peaceful demonstrations calling for democracy and respect of human rights. Also unknown are the whereabouts of Somphone Khantisouk, the owner of an ecotourism guesthouse and an outspoken critic of Chinese-sponsored agricultural projects that were damaging the environment in the northern province of Luang Namtha. He disappeared after uniformed men abducted him in January 2007.

The Lao Government’s failure to undertake proper investigations into all these cases of enforced disappearances violates its obligations under Article 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Laos is a State party. The ICCPR states that governments must provide an “effective remedy” for violations of rights guaranteed by the Covenant, including the right to liberty and security of person.

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[Press Release] EU supports human rights groups to protect human rights defenders

EU supports human rights groups to protect human rights defenders

The European Union (EU) provides financial support to two national human rights groups namely the Medical Action Group (MAG) and the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) worth Php 25 million in their work for the protection of human rights defenders and in their fight against impunity in the Philippines.

MAG TFDP

On December 10, during the celebration of 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 14th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, MAG and TFDP announces a 3-year project supported by the EU to provide support for and strengthen protection of human rights defenders and their families.

Dubbed “Use of Evidence Based Approach to Human Rights Documentation and Monitoring for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and their Families, and in the Fight Against Impunity”, the project will be implemented by MAG and TFDP. A key component in engendering this approach is the use of evidence based approach to human rights documentation and monitoring for the protection of human rights defenders at risk and their families.

Protection and supporting human rights defenders is a “long established element of the EU’s human rights policy” and has long been a priority for the EU. The main international instrument on human rights defenders is the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/defenders/declaration.htm Likewise, the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/16332-re01.en08.pdf which “provide for interventions by the Union for human rights defenders at risk and suggest practical means of supporting and assisting human rights defenders.”

The Declaration defines a human rights defender as anyone who, individually or with others, working for the promotion and protection of human rights. At present, one of the issues facing human rights defenders is that they are often perceived by the government as, among others, “enemies of the State”, “terrorists” and “members of armed groups”.

This project aims to provide support for human rights defenders so that they can work safely and effectively, free from intimidation and reprisals. Likewise, the project will be implemented in key provinces/cities in the Philippines where human rights violations are rampant, and where human rights defenders have become targets of rights violations themselves by authorities, mining corporations and private landowners because of their work in exposing human rights abuses and support victims of human rights violations to seek redress.

The project has several major components: documentation and reporting of human rights violations cases; supporting human rights defenders and their families; legal action; capacity building; education and; advocacy and lobby.
For more information, please contact:

Jerbert M. Briola, Project Officer
Medical Action Group
129-D Matatag Street, Barangay Central, Quezon City
Mobile phone no. +63915-9629237
E-mail address: mag.1982@magph.org
jerbertph@yahoo.com

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[Solidarity] BANGLADESH: Alarming escalation of threats to human rights defenders -The Observatory

BANGLADESH: Alarming escalation of threats to human rights defenders

Publication of an international fact-finding mission report

Paris-Geneva, November 9, 2013 -As two members of prominent human rights NGO Odhikar will face trial tomorrow in Dhaka in relation to their human rights activities, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT joint programme, publishes today an international mission report on the situation of human rights defenders in Bangladesh.

OBS1

In Bangladesh, the authorities resort to a legal arsenal and restrictive practices to prosecute and pressure human rights defenders, who face physical attacks, arbitrary detention and judicial harassment.

“NGO activists, lawyers, journalists and trade unionists trying to defend the victims of human rights violations remain inadequately protected and suffer repression for carrying out legitimate activities under international law”, said Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “ Presently, two members of Odhikar, a respected human rights NGO, are facing judicial harassment for publishing a report on police repression ”, he added.

Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar and a member of the General Assembly of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), whose trial will resume tomorrow, was detained from August 10 to October 11, 2013. Mr. Nasiruddin Elan, Director of Odhikar, was sent to prison on November 6. Both have been harassed after Odhikar published a report on the repression of a demonstration of fundamentalists by the police last May.

In Bangladesh, the political atmosphere is fundamentally polarised, and the situation is becoming increasingly tensed in the lead-up to the general elections due to take place before the end of January 2014.

“We are alarmed over the present situation and the risk of further repression of human rights defenders in the upcoming pre-election context. Human rights work is in the inherent interest of any nation, no matter who the victim may be. This voice needs to be heard even in times of political tension”, declared Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of OMCT. “There is a heavy burden on all actors, State authorities, political parties and the media alike, to withstand the temptation of labelling human rights defenders as pro-government or anti-government, depending on whom they criticise or which party is in power”, he added.

The trade union environment is also generally polarised along party lines, and the few independent unions that exist face obstacles to their work, including daily harassment by the authorities. The enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killing of labour leader and human rights defender Aminul Islam in 2012 reminded the international community and human rights defenders on the ground how risky independent labour rights activities could be in Bangladesh. Authorities failed to launch any effective investigation about his assassination.

The Observatory concludes that as long as corruption is not curbed, and in the absence of a peaceful and constructive political environment, of legislation promoting human rights and of an independent judiciary, abuses of power and arbitrary practices will continue. These make the exercise of fundamental freedoms more difficult, hinder the strengthening of an independent civil society, and maintain human rights defenders in the trap of a disabling environment.

The Observatory Mission Report, titled “Human rights defenders trapped in a polarised political environment ”, outlines recommendations to the Bangladeshi authorities, the United Nations, the European Union and other foreign diplomacies. The report is available here:

Click to access obs_rapportbangladeshuk-ld.pdf

Click to access bangladesh_obs_mission_report.pdf

For more information, please contact:
· FIDH: Audrey Couprie/Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 25 18
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39

PRESS RELEASE – THE OBSERVATORY

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[Press Release] Lawmakers Want Congress Declared as “Lead-Safe Zone” -EcoWaste Coalition

Lawmakers Want Congress Declared as “Lead-Safe Zone”

22 October 2013, Quezon City. Lawmakers have signified their desire to declare both chambers of the Congress as “lead-safe zone” in resolutions filed to mark the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action on October 20-26.

ecowaste-coalition

In separate resolutions, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Representative Anthony del Rosario expressed support for the Week of Action coordinated by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme.

As explained by Senator Santiago, a “lead-safe zone” will mean “disallowing the use of lead paint in any painting job within its premises and ensure safe work practices to minimize occupational exposures to lead.”

Proposed Senate Resolution 292 described the UN-backed Week of Action as “an excellent platform to raise public awareness about children’s exposure to lead in paint and other sources and strengthen initiatives to prevent childhood lead poisoning.”

Lead, a potent neurotoxin, is known to contribute to about 600,000 new cases per year of children with intellectual disabilities across the globe, according to the WHO.

Proposed House of Representatives Resolution 383 lauded the Week of Action “as boosting current advocacies and initiatives to bring about a shift from leaded to unleaded decorative paints, including the government’s effort to phase out lead-added paints through a Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, the civil society’s Lead Paint Elimination Project in partnership with the European Union, and the industry’s own efforts to move away from lead-based paint production.”

In the resolution he authored, Representative del Rosario cited “the special vulnerability of young children to lead exposure that can detrimentally affect their health and well-being, and the need for preventive actions to curb lead pollution from lead paint and other sources.”

Senator Santiago also noted that a recent report by medical experts at the New York University School of Medicine estimated childhood lead exposure is costing low and middle income countries $977 billion and the Philippines $15 billion per year due to lost lifetime economic productivity from lead-attributable IQ loss.

Senator Santiago’s and Representative del Rosario’s actions drew immediate cheers from environmentalists campaigning for zero waste and chemical safety.

“We laud the two lawmakers for taking up the cudgels on behalf of children who are most vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, an organization in the forefront of the campaign to stop lead pollution.

“We hope that their proposals would result in the adoption of a broader ‘lead-safe’ procurement policy that will require the use of only unleaded paints in all public buildings and facilities, especially those frequented by kids such as day care centers, schools, libraries, playgrounds, clinics and hospitals,” she added.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1101 Quezon City, Philippines
Phone/Fax: 4411846 E-Mail: info@ecowastecoalition.org
Website: http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com/

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[Press Release] EU urged to pass law ensuring HR compliance of European firms’ supply chain -CTUHR

EU urged to pass law ensuring HR compliance of European firms’ supply chain

NGOs say new legislation can aid in ending “natural resource trade fueling conflict”

CTUHR logo

A group of 58 non-government organizations from different parts of the world urged the European Commission to pass a “strong and effective” legislation that will “prevent European businesses [from] fueling conflict and human rights abuses through their purchases of natural resources” which include gold, tin, diamonds among others.

In a joint position paper, Breaking the links between natural resources and conflict: The case forEU regulation published on September 16, the group of civil society organizations laid down key factors that an EU regulation should have in order to ensure that businesses operating within EU’s jurisdiction, targeting mainly European firms’ supply chain, “are not causing or contributing to human rights abuses, directly or indirectly.”

Trade in natural resources mainly minerals and precious stones, according to the group, “has played a central role in funding and fuelling some of the world’s most brutal conflicts” that continue to impact on the daily lives of people in resource rich countries namely Congo, Colombia, Burma, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic, “where violence is a major obstacle to development.”

As the Commission is expected to publish draft legislation by the end of 2013, the group of NGOs called on the EU to not miss the opportunity to “require EU-based companies to carry out supply chain checks that meet international due diligence standards developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”

The group underlined that the EU, being the world’s largest trading bloc, is in a good position “to influence global supply chains and promote transparent and responsible sourcing in other jurisdictions.” They argued that doing due diligence will also benefit European businesses by ensuring that companies are not funding wars and will allow trade to continue but not at the expense of gross human rights violations.

The group recommends that the Commission’s draft legislation:

· Applies to all natural resources originating in any conflict-affected and high-risk area;

· Is based on relevant international instruments, including the International Bill of Human Rights, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas;

· Takes a risk-based approach that considers impacts on individuals and communities;

· Complements existing EU initiatives and legislation to promote transparency and sustainable development and forms part of a comprehensive approach to prevent environmental destruction, reinforce governance and encourage security sector and mining reform in natural resource-rich developing countries.

Among the Philippine NGOs that are signatories to the position paper are Center for Trade Union and Human Rights and Workers Assistance Center. To view full position paper and for a complete list of signatories go here.

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[From the web] The Broken “New Normal” and the G20 Mirage by Dorothy-Grace Guerrero

The Broken “New Normal” and the G20 Mirage
by Dorothy-Grace Guerrero

focusweb_logo

That is a mirage, cheap mirage, revolting, romantic and fantastical — that’s another ball on Lake Como.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Notes from the Underground

The Group of Twenty (G20), informally recognized as “the other UN”, is an unofficial, unaccountable, yet very powerful platform for international cooperation on the most important issues of the global economic and financial agenda. It was originally set up to deal with the global implications of the Asian financial crisis in 1998 with goals ‘to provide a new mechanism for informal dialogue in the framework of the Bretton Woods institutional system, to broaden the discussions on key economic and financial policy issues among systemically significant economies and promote cooperation to achieve stable and sustainable world economic growth that benefits all’[i].

Although the idea to broaden the international architecture beyond the G-7 or G-10 developed during the early 1990s in the U.S. Treasury, Paul Martin, Canada’s finance minister, championed the idea that emerging economies must be part of the solution to the Asian crisis within the G-7. Germany supported the idea of a new forum, and shepherded it through the G-7 summit process[ii]. The G20 brings together leaders, finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States of America plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the European Council and by Head of the European Central Bank.

The geo-political reconfiguration of the international system due to the relative weakening of the US, the still unresolved crisis in the Eurozone and the rise of new powers such as the BRICS countries (China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa), brought about a changed global power rivalry. US president George W. Bush elevated the grouping into a Summit of Leaders in 2008 to enable it to deal with the financial crisis that started from the US and the EU economies, which they could not fix themselves. Since then this self-selected clique of big and emerging powers designated themselves as the new steering group for the global economy.

Non-G20 governments, intellectuals, and activists (antiglobalists, alterglobalists, etc.) have questioned its legitimacy and reason for existence. G20 Summits also became a focus for protests. Although it does not have the power to create policies and arrive at legally binding agreements, it undermines the UN process and insufficiently represents poor countries. Its track record of failures (for example, in resolving the Asian crisis in 1998 and the 2008 crisis originating in the US and EU) and unwillingness to veer away from neoliberalism has condemned the global economy into a vicious cycle of recurring economic crises. The Financial Times refer to the cycle as “an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse”[iii].

It is not comforting to the poor in developing countries that new actors are joining the big league. The rise of new powers like the BRICS countries and their actions, so far, have yet to prove that they are offering a new and better leadership in global governance. If we look in the recent World Bank and UNCTAD experiences of selecting leaders and making decisions on how the financial crisis should be managed, we could see that rich countries will not easily give up their control of the global institutions.

It is still a big question if the BRICS countries are offering a positive alternative of economic and social progress to other developing countries. However, what is becoming increasing clear is that these new powers are merely continuing the same or more intense practices of exploitation and extraction of resources from poorer countries to further enrich themselves. The G20, instead of providing an alternative is merely resuscitating a flagging and failing capitalist system. It is giving new energy to the same unsustainable and unjust paradigm that facilitates the accumulation of wealth by a few while resulting in dispossession and pauperization of the already marginalized and disempowered.

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[Press Release] PALEA press for suspension of prosecutor, dismissal of case

PALEA press for suspension of prosecutor, dismissal of case

PALEA logo

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to immediately suspend assistant Diosdado Solidum Jr. and to dismiss the case against its 241 members. Solidum was arrested in an entrapment operation Thursday night for extorting P2.5 million from PALEA members in return for the dropping of charges for violation of Section 81 of the Civil Aviation Authority Act (CAAA).

“The arrest of Solidum is but a small step in our quest for justice. We hope that it will pave the way for the dismissal of the harassment case against PALEA. The protest PALEA launched against outsourcing in September 27, 2011 in our workplace was a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to seek redress of grievances and does not fall under the provisions of the CAAA which concerns disruption and destruction of airport services and facilities,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

Rivera added that “PALEA will fight all lawbreakers whether in barongs or in suits. PALEA members are victims of injustice not once but twice. First, some 2,000 workers were retrenched in a failed outsourcing scam and 241 members were charged in court for protesting. Then prosecutor Solidum tried to extort from retrenched and jobless workers,”

PALEA hailed DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima for authorizing the entrapment operation. “We need more de Limas and less Solidums in government if workers are to have a chance at attaining some measure of justice in this system. Truly the wheels of justice turn slow for workers but the arrest of Solidum should send a signal to all that the labor movement will fight to win.” Rivera ended.

PALEA and the new management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) under the San Miguel group are still in negotiations over the union’s demand for the return of retrenched workers to their regular jobs. Meanwhile the union continues to garner support as the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) welcomed the talks between PAL and PALEA to settle the long-running dispute.

In a statement released in mid-July after the announcement of the lifting of the European Union ban on PAL flights to the continent (http://www.itfglobal.org/news-online/index.cfm/newsdetail/9299), the ETF urged PAL to “come to a full and fair settlement.”

Further, delegates to the June 2013 Asia Pacific conference of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) restated their solidarity with PALEA. ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho promised the full support of all affiliates to use whatever legal means necessary to ensure justice for PALEA. 

Press Release
August 10, 2013
PALEA
Contact Gerry Rivera @ 09157755073

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[Press Release] Iloilo joins Freedom Ride against Human Trafficking-Dakila

Iloilo joins Freedom Ride against Human Trafficking

Freedom Ride IloiloAdvocates and cyclists against human trafficking continue the fight in Iloilo with another Freedom Ride happening on April 20, Saturday, at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Building. Cyclists are expected to assemble at 6:00 am and ride out at 7:00 am. The 25-kilometer bike tour shall pass around major thoroughfares and significant landmarks along the 6 districts of Iloilo City. The cyclists shall wear the freedom ride shirts promoting the 1343 anti-trafficking hotline to draw public attention to human trafficking as a national and global issue.

According to musician, advocate, and cycling enthusiast Nityalila Saulo, “The cycling community in Iloilo is excited to participate in the Freedom Ride that will enable more people to become aware about human trafficking and the hotline number 1343. Like cyclists, we want everyone to get to their destinations safely and avoid being ‘trafficked.’”

The bike tour is organized by Dakila, a group creatively inspiring involvement in social transformation, in partnership with the Manila Fixed Gear, a group of urban cyclists who has incorporated cycling in their lifestyle, the Freedom from Debt Coalition Iloilo, Partido ng Manggagawa and the Iloilo Folding Bike Riders (I-Fold) with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).

Karen Bermejo, spokesperson of the artist collective in Dakila-Iloilo, said, “Stop Look Listen is a campaign that hopes to stop human trafficking by looking at its signs and listening to stories of victims and survivors. A lot of people in the provinces become victims of human trafficking because of the lack of information given to them. Iloilo is one of the more vulnerable provinces, especially with the number of Overseas Filipino Workers and seamen coming from the province. With the support of the city government, other organizations, and our advocates, we are hopeful that more people will learn about it, and, thus, lead to a decrease in the number of victims.”

Every year around 300,000 to 400,000 Filipinos fall prey to human trafficking in their own country and abroad. The Freedom Ride is part of the Project Freedom Campaign of Dakila, which aims to raise public awareness on Human Trafficking and empower advocates and citizens to become watchdogs in their own communities by driving them into action through grassroots involvement and amplified action through mainstream and digital media.

The Stop Look LIsten campaign kicked off last March 9 with a Freedom Ride held in McKinley Hill, Taguig City participated by around 1,000 cyclists. His Excellency Ambassador Ton Boon von Ochssee and Mrs. Martine Boon von Ochssee of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Josef Rychtar of the Czech Embassy, and H.E. Guy Ledoux of the European Union joined the bike ride as well as members of the diplomatic community representing the Embassies of France, Spain, Belgium, Canada, United States, New Zealand, European Union and Czech Republic; top officials of Dutch Corporations like Philips Electronics, Seatrade, Control Union Philippines and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum; Officials of the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) led by Chief Senior State Prosecutor Jonathan Lledo, Bureau of Immigrations Commissioner Ricardo David, Director Patricia Luna of DSWD and Assistant Secretary Jed Eva III of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President, Actor Albert Martinez, sports and lifestyle host Reema Chanco, restaurateur Erik Waldie, and Miss Earth Air 2012 Stephany Stefanowitz and Miss Philippines Fire 2012 Thoreen Halvorsen.

The Freedom Ride is open to the public. For more information about the Freedom Rides and the campaign, visit http://dakila.org.ph/projectfreedom.

MEDIA CONTACT

Ayeen Karunungan 09175057055

Karen Bermejo 09155410368

E-mail: mabuhay@dakila.org.ph

PRESS RELEASE
Dakila
19 April 2013

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[Events] A thousand cyclists rode for freedom -Dakila

Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism

A thousand cyclists rode for freedom

Freedom Ride photo by Dakila

Freedom Ride photo by Dakila

dakilaAround 1,000 cyclists participated in the Freedom Ride for a Human Trafficking Free Philippines last Saturday March 9, 2013.

Ambassadors H.E. Ton Boon von Ochssee of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Josef Rychtar of the Czech Embassy, and H.E. Guy Ledoux of the European Union joined the bike ride as well as members of the diplomatic community representing the Embassies of France, Spain, Belgium, Canada, United States, New Zealand, European Union and Czech Republic; and top officials of Dutch Corporations like Philips Electronics, Seatrade, Control Union Philippines and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum.

Among those who participated in the bike tour are officials of the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) to be led by Chief Senior State Prosecutor Jonathan Lledo, Bureau of Immigrations Commissioner Ricardo David, Director Patricia Luna of DSWD and Assistant Secretary Jed Eva III of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President, Actor Albert Martinez, sports and lifestyle host Reema Chanco, restaurateur Erik Waldie, Kiko Machine comics artist Manix Abrera, Miss Earth Air 2012 Stephany Stefanowitz and Miss Philippines Fire 2012 Thoreen Halvorsen.

Organized by the artist collective, Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, in partnership with Manila Fixed Gear and We FXD and with the support of the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Freedom Ride served as the launch of the Stop, Look, and Listen campaign to intensify efforts to stop human trafficking in the Philippines.

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[Press Release] Freedom Ride Paves the Road to a Human Trafficking Free Philippines -Dakila

Freedom Ride Paves the Road to a Human Trafficking Free Philippines
Government, Diplomatic Community, Cyclists, Civil Society and Artists
come together to combat human trafficking.

dakilaAll roads lead to Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill, Taguig at 7:00 in the morning on March 9, Saturday as warriors against human trafficking prepare for the historic Freedom Ride.

Organized by the artist collective, Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, in partnership with Manila Fixed Gear and We FXD and with the support of the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Freedom Ride shall serve as the launch of the Stop, Look, and Listen campaign to intensify efforts to stop human trafficking in the Philippines.

Joining the bike ride are Ambassadors H.E. Ton Boon von Ochssee of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Josef Rychtar of the Czech Embassy, and H.E. Guy Ledoux of the European Union. Members of the diplomatic community representing the Embassies of France, Spain, Belgium, Canada, United States, New Zealand, European Union and Czech Republic as well as top officials of Dutch Corporations like Philips Electronics, Seatrade, Control Union Philippines and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum.

According to Dakila Vice President and musician Noel Cabangon, “The support of the diplomatic community is a strong statement that there is a concerted effort of the international community to combat human trafficking and modern day slavery. Through this Freedom Ride, we want to show that our country is one with the world and that we can achieve a human trafficking free Philippines.”

Also participating in the bike tour are officials of the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) to be led by Chief Senior State Prosecutor Jonathan Lledo, Bureau of Immigrations Commissioner Ricardo David, Director Patricia Luna of DSWD and Assistant Secretary Jed Eva III of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President. Actor Albert Martinez, sports and lifestyle host Reema Chanco, restaurateur Erik Waldie, tour guide and performance artist Carlos Celdran, social entrepreneur Illac Diaz, and Miss Earth Air 2012 Stephany Stefanowitz and Miss Philippines Fire 2012 Thoreen Halvorsen will also be joining the ride.

Musician and cycling enthusiast Nityalila Saulo, who is an advocate of the campaign said, “ As a cyclist, it is important for us to be aware of road signs to help us get to our destinations safely. The Stop, Look, and Listen campaign of Dakila sends an important message to the public that in order to Stop Human Trafficking, we must always be aware of the signs like how cyclists are aware of road signs, to avoid being trafficked and listen to the stories of those who were trafficked and most vulnerable to trafficking so that we may learn from it and contribute on ways to help prevent it. “

Every year around 300,000 to 400,000 Filipinos fall prey to human trafficking in our own country and abroad. The Philippines is a source for human trafficking. In 2010, the Philippines was in danger of being downgraded to a Tier 3 status in the US Department of State human trafficking index for a poor performance in the fight against human trafficking and for being in the Tier 2-watchlist (a list that included countries having the most number of human trafficking victims and with less government efforts to stop forms of human trafficking) for two consecutive years. This could have caused the withdrawal of some $700 million in non-humanitarian, non-trade related aid including grants from the millennium challenge program. As a result of intensified efforts, the country’s status was upgraded a notch higher to Tier 2 in 2011 and maintained the status in 2012. Tier 2 countries are those, which have shown significant efforts to fight human trafficking but have yet to fully comply with standards set by the United States’ Global Trafficking in Persons (GTIP) Report.

The Freedom Ride launches the campaign “Stop, Look, and Listen” which aims to raise public awareness on Human Trafficking and empower citizens to contribute in the fight to stop it. The Freedom Ride will start at 7:30 AM on March 9, 2013 at the Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill, Taguig. Cyclists wearing shirts printed with 1343 Anti-Trafficking hotline shall bike around the cities of Taguig, Manila, Pasay and Makati to spread awareness on human trafficking.

Dakila President, multi-awarded writer, journalist, musician and pop-culture icon, Lourd de Veyra said, “Not only are we a country with 10 million of our countrymen working abroad and where disasters, armed conflict and poverty force most of us to find better opportunities and safer living space elsewhere, but also a society where the luster of city life and promise of fast cash continue to attract people from the rural communities. As a result, more people are becoming vulnerable to human trafficking. By using popular culture like bike rides, social media, music and film, Dakila’s campaign aims to contribute in making the public aware of human trafficking and empower them to take action.”

The Freedom Ride is open to the public and will start at the Venice Piazza Fountain Area, McKinley Hill, Taguig. Assembly is at 7:00 am and ride out is at 7:30 am. For more information, visit http://dakila.org.ph/freedomproject/.

MEDIA CONTACT
Rash Caritativo, Dakila
Tel. No.: 4354309
Mobile: 09151780240
E-mail: mabuhay@dakila.org.ph

Press Release
Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism

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[Statement] JOINT STATEMENT OF the 2nd ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People Forum (ACSC/APF) 2012 Phnom Penh, 16 November 2012

JOINT STATEMENT OF the 2nd ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People Forum (ACSC/APF) 2012
Phnom Penh, 16 November 2012

Preamble

The ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People‟s Forum (ACSC/APF) 2012 took place on the 14-16 November 2012. The event, attended by over 500 delegates, included not only participants from ASEAN member states but also representatives invited from African Union, European Union and a delegation from the USA.

A key discussion that took place over the course of the event was ASEAN member states‟ failure to produce an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration that matches or even exceeds existing international human rights standards. As such, we the delegates of the ACSC/APF, refuse to endorse the Declaration and instead, will continue to use standards set in international human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to measure progress in the region.

ASEAN professes to be people-centered, however, the conduct of the Cambodian government in response to ACSC/APF has demonstrated that this principle has not been translated into action. As a result of intimidation by Cambodian authorities, two venue hosts reneged their agreements, in an attempt to curtail the constitutionally-guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

ASEAN member states, in particular, those that do not currently hold elections, must commit to periodic free and fair elections with the presence of both citizen observers and international observers. Only then can we begin to fulfill ASEAN‟s potential to promote good governance, democracy and rule of law.

ASEAN is not just made up of governments but the people they serve. We the people take this role very seriously, because it affects our lives and the lives of future generations. Realizing the objectives laid out in the ASEAN Economic Blueprint has been the priority of ASEAN, which has been moving ahead with little regard to the citizens who will be most affected by it. ASEAN needs to open space, including genuine freedom of association and speech, for citizens to participate, take ownership and lessen the impact of negative consequences. ASEAN must embrace the key principles of the respect for human rights and the international human rights standards that all ASEAN countries adhere to. Sustainable and equitable economic development will only be achieved if ASEAN transforms into a genuinely people-centered community. That is why we are here today. Therefore we urge the adoption of the following recommendations:

ECONOMICS AND ENVIRONMENT

Food security, land and ocean grabbing
Ocean Grabbing and Food Sovereignty

The dominant model of development for economic growth has led to an agricultural crisis and natural disaster in developing countries due to lax natural resource management and the lack of sustainable development principles.. Local producers are threatened by unfair competition from imports. Land and ocean grabbing is likely to increase with ASEAN economic integration in 2015.
The 90 million workers in the fishing industry remain among the most poorly remunerated workers in the production sectors. National policies, such as large-scale subsidies, favor big vessel operators and fishpond owners. Privatization of coastal resources worsens the trend towards resource grabbing. Furthermore, poor enforcement of fishery laws and corruption within implementing agencies has led to the rise of illegal fishing.

These trends have not only threatened the livelihoods of poor fishers in the region but also led to massive over-fishing and destruction of water bodies such as lakes, rivers, mangroves and coastal resources.

In view of this, we call for the following:

1. Review the economic model being pursued by ASEAN which emphasizes more trade liberalization and increased investment by corporations in the fishery, coastal and agriculture resource industries. ASEAN should consider pursuing a model which protects and recognises the resource rights of vulnerable farmers and fishers.

2. Stop land, ocean and other resource grabbing in the region. ASEAN and national governments should adopt regional agreements and policies that reduce widespread private investment in and privatization of land, coastal, freshwater and fishery bodies;

3. For the governments of ASEAN member states to adopt policies that give farmers and fishers secure tenure, ownership, control and management of their land, freshwater and coastal/fishery resources.

4. For all fishers to be able to participate actively and substantially in decision-making in agriculture and fishery policies and specifically in the negotiations of the Food and Agriculture Organization instrument on fishery resource access, including the Fishers Code of Conduct.

5. For the governments of ASEAN member states to support programs of community management of coastal, freshwater and other fishery resources.

Natural Resources
Extractive Industry

Revenue from extractive industries is the foundation for the development of the economy and the huge driver toward poverty alleviation of the ASEAN member states. Extractive industries, if accountably and transparently managed, can avoid the so-called resource curse. It is of great importance that civil society organisations (CSOs) are given enough space for public engagement in the development of the extractive industry‟s legal framework to help promote just, accountable and inclusive policies. CSOs are relentlessly campaigning for ASEAN countries to adopt the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Recommendations:

1. ASEAN member states should adopt the EITI;
2. ASEAN should create a legal framework on extractive industries;
3. All ASEAN member states should adopt access-to-information laws;
4. Develop multi-stakeholders mechanism to promote good governance and transparency in extractive industries and natural resource management.
5. Guarantee transparency through frequent, perhaps monthly, financial and progress reports by the extractive industry.
6. To ensure transparency in oil, gas and mining revenues, countries should develop and adopt a legal framework and policy for domestic and international investment companies.

ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint and Regional Integration and its Implication for Women from a Gender Perspective

Many ASEAN documents state that the three ASEAN pillars must be viewed as “closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing”. In fact, the contrary is true. The pillars have been formulated in isolation without consideration of their collective impact. The political emphasis has been on the economic community/blueprints, which pose huge threats to people‟s access to their means of subsistence. Without mechanisms to include serious participation by its people, ASEAN can expect increasing violations of fundamental human rights, women‟s rights, environmental sustainability, social injustice and gender injustice and inequality.

We recommend ASEAN member states adopt mechanisms to:

1. Ensure that the voices of those affected are integrated into the collective policy of the ASEAN communities.
2. Ensure all measures and policies of member states protect human rights, women‟s rights, indigenous people‟s rights and the rights of marginalized and vulnerable peoples.
3. Uphold the principle of non-discrimination for age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, class, nationality, religion, ability or any other distinction.
4. Adopt the ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, which protects all migrant workers, skilled and unskilled, documented and undocumented, and their families.
5. Ensure that economic and investment policies do not result in land grabbing that uproots lives, especially those of women and the marginalized, through forced eviction and involuntary resettlement.
6. Provide effective remedies for violence against women. Protect sexual and reproductive rights, the right to a healthy environment and other rights guaranteed by international treaties and standards.
7. Ensure that women are involved in all levels of decision-making nationally and internationally.
8. Adopt and ratify the ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers.
9. Guard against extensions of intellectual property rights in national or regional trade agreements that restrict access to medicines and undermine public health.

Trade Unions, Labor Rights and Workers
Labor Trend on ASEAN

The labor issue in the ASEAN region has become an increasing priority due to the upcoming economic integration in 2015. There has been significant movement of workers from developing member states of ASEAN to the more developed states. There are three main points in relation to labor issues that needed to be considered by ASEAN and its constituent members, and upon which we have based recommendations:

Recommendations:
1. Protect workers’ rights in ASEAN
 Ensure decent salaries for workers and employees;
 Ensure occupational safety protection for workers in construction and other sectors;
 Workers should work no longer than 8 hours a day and 5 days a week.
 Ensure the rights of trade unions to be able to negotiate collectively
 Reduce the prevalence of short term contracts and sub-contractors
 Ensure migrant workers are protected by relevant laws and related agencies.
2. Implement a mechanism to ensure risk prevention and prevent other related violations against employees and migrant workers
 The promulgation of a new labor law within ASEAN;
 The implementation of policy, legal framework and others mechanisms in relation to this topic.
 All ASEAN member states must adopt a Memorandum of Understanding to protect migrant workers who work within their countries.
 ASEAN member states must guarantee the rights of migrant women, including marriage migrants, and put in place mechanisms to ensure women‟s empowerment.
 ASEAN member states must include protection mechanisms for women and families abandoned by migrant workers.
3. The creation of a legal framework within ASEAN
 Set up a transparency committee, sector, and adopt a transparent approach to all sectors;
 Create a national and regional migration protection law to ensure the safety of migrants; and
 Provide a mechanism for the people of ASEAN members to raise concerns within the region in relation to labor issues.

SOCIAL-CULTURAL
Labor and sex trafficking
Modern-day slavery in and from ASEAN

Human trafficking within and from ASEAN remains a serious problem. Laws, policies, and practices by ASEAN member states often fail to protect millions of migrant workers, and often contribute to or are complicit in their enslavement, facilitating brokers, recruitment agents, labor export companies, outsourcing companies and unscrupulous employers to profit from the exploitation of migrant workers both in sending and receiving countries.

Notwithstanding efforts by civil society to highlight these cases to national governments for further action, these perpetrators continue their exploitative practices with impunity. The coordination between national ministries and across ASEAN member states to work collaboratively and in a coordinated manner is inadequate and sometimes even exacerbates the problem by detaining and/or otherwise punishing the victims – sex trafficking victims as well as workers who have been held in debt bondage or slave-like conditions – rather than the perpetrators.

Although ASEAN member states earn profits in the billions of US Dollars from facilitation of migration, both from recruitment fees, levies and other government charges and from labor that sustains their national economies, ASEAN member states demonstrate a high degree of reluctance to provide sufficient resources towards combatting human trafficking in the areas of prevention, protection and prosecution of this trans-national crime.

We recommend that ASEAN member states:

1. Enact national anti-trafficking-in-persons laws and policies that meet international standards including the Palermo Protocol;
2. Provide sufficient resources for the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of perpetrators, especially in cases where such perpetrators are corrupt government officials or their accomplices;
3. Discontinue labor export and recruitment policies and practices that facilitate human trafficking;
4. Engage with and provide resources for CSOs to provide services and protection for victims of sex trafficking as well as workers who have been held in debt bondage or slave-like conditions (labor trafficking);
5. Enact immigration and labor laws that provide victims, especially migrant workers, with the right to reside and work legally until such time as they are willing and able to be repatriated safely;
6. Embark upon robust nation-wide campaigns to bring awareness about human trafficking, targeting factors that are likely to lead potential victims into trafficking as well as prejudicial and stereotypical views about migrant workers;
7. ASEAN should ensure that both sending and receiving countries be held jointly responsible to promote and uphold the rights of women migrants of due recognition to their contribution to the respective countries‟ development.

Human Rights
A Review of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

The review of the Terms of Reference of AICHR process in 2014 under Myanmar‟s chairmanship will provide an opportunity to identify challenges and opportunities and a plan for the future. Civil society organizations and others want ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to evolve into a credible, independent, responsive and accessible regional human rights mechanism in ASEAN.

Recommendations:

1. There should be more transparency in the recruitment for AICHR. To reflect this transparency, the term inter-governmental within AICHR should be changed to independent. Principles of the TOR concerning non-interference and sovereignty should be changed. The principle of impartiality should be adopted.
2. AICHR needs to have a human rights protection mechanism, as well as a mechanism to engage all relevant stakeholders, in particular CSOs, in ASEAN.
3. CSOs need to have a clear idea of what AICHR should achieve in the next three years and bring it to the attention of the foreign ministers of each member state.
4. CSOs need to be more creative about how they lobby for change. AICHR must increase public awareness so that everyone in the region understands its role.

Indigenous and ethnic minority and human rights
IP/EM in ASEAN community: Promote and Protect rights to Land, Territory, Natural Resources and Development of IP/EM

The Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities (IPs&EM) in the ASEAN community are distinct peoples with their own unique identity. They call on member states to recognize their rights through the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other international instruments. They have a right to free, prior and informed consent on any laws, policies, and programs that affect their communities and nations. Their right to customary laws and self-governance should be respected in relation to sustainable management of lands, territories and resources.

Recommendations:

1. ASEAN member states should establish and reinforce effective redress mechanisms and access to justice for damages from past and current projects in which indigenous peoples were not consulted. This should include legal pluralism approaches rooted in traditional cultures
2. Local, national and regional governments should establish mechanisms by indigenous peoples participate in all decision-making processes including in matter of governance of state.
3. ASEAN member states need to ratify and immediately implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and International Labor Organization Convention 169. They must reviewing and repealing national laws and policies that discriminate against IPs&EM.
4. Each member state should immediately implement its Universal Periodic Review recommendations regarding IPs&EM. In the second cycle, IPs&EM should be included in preparation of the state report as key stakeholders. States should also accept recommendations relating to IPs&EM.
5. To build an ASEAN community by 2015 that is consistent with UNDRIP, member states should designate an indigenous peoples focal person within the AICHR to set up a working group for the respect, promotion and protection of indigenous peoples.

Sex Worker Rights
Sex worker-ASEAN

ASEAN plans to promote tourism in its member states. Despite their important contribution to this industry, the region‟s 1.2 million sex workers remain undervalued. They encounter serious and systematic discrimination in the application of immigration law. Because their work is criminalized, they are denied visas, work permits and all other protections and benefits that are applied to recognized workers, forcing them to deal with the risks of extortion and exploitation. Contrary to ASEAN‟s stated obligations, sex workers are routinely denied the legal protection and benefits offered to others. Corrupt police and other authorities systematically exploit, coerce and abuse the basic human rights of sex workers with impunity. Economic, religious and cultural considerations continue to hinder public health programs to fight AIDS, so the infection rate remains unacceptably high in the sex worker community.

Sex workers call on ASEAN governments to:
1. Guarantee that all ASEAN peoples can migrate and travel safely, with equal access to services including health and legal services, regardless of occupation. This must include an end to discriminatory immigration policies and practices that restrict the movement of sex workers.
2. Ensure sex workers receive equal protection and benefits under the law; and freedom from abuse by police and other state and non-state actors, including religious bodies.
3. Reform public health programming to provide sex workers with the highest standards of health services, especially HIV prevention.
4. The ASEAN Tourism Plan proposes to offer education and skills to tourism workers. Sex workers call on ASEAN Tourism Ministers Committee to create a fund available to sex workers and their organizations for education, skill training and other opportunities for other non-direct sex-related vocations.

LGBT Rights

Inclusion of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) issues and Rights in the ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ASCS)/ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) and in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transexual, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) persons have documented and explicitly presented evidence of extensive human rights violations that occur throughout the ASEAN region. Hence they are incensed by the exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in the draft of ASEAN‟s Human Rights Declaration. It is a blatant manifestation of discrimination against LBGTIQ persons. The LGBTIQ movement will never accept discrimination, abuse and violence as part of their existence by the denial of their rights and their humanity.

It is in this spirit of pride and dignity that we reclaim our rightful space in our respective countries and in our region, and demand our governments to:

1. Include SOGI provision into the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights, specifically inclusion of reference to „gender identity‟ and „sexual orientation‟ in Article 2.
2. Immediately repeal laws that directly and indirectly criminalize SOGI, recognize LGBTIQ rights as human rights, and harmonize national laws, policies and practices with the Yogyakarta Principles.
3. Establish national-level mechanisms and review existing regional human rights instruments (e.g. AICHR, ACWC) to include the promotion and protection of the equal rights of all people regardless of SOGI with the active engagement of the LGBTIQ community.
4. Depathologize SOGI and promote psychological wellbeing of people of diverse SOGI in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) standards and ensure equal access to health and social services.

Youth and Development
Young Volunteers in Southeast Asia: Immense Passion and Selfless Practice towards Positive Change

Volunteerism has always been one of the core values of social movements. Indeed, learning through direct acts of volunteerism will educate ASEAN‟s young generation. They can learn how to care, share and help each other. In that way, they can make their region more peaceful and its development more sustainable. However, society currently lacks a culture of volunteerism for many reasons. Youth who want to volunteer in other ASEAN member states face obstacles that need to be removed. They lack the financial backing and logistical support from their home governments.

Recommendations:

1. Promote volunteerism to all sectors in ASEAN community.
2. Have youth volunteer policies; provide more opportunities and strengthen the volunteer network for youth to contribute to society.
3. Provide both financial support and effective mechanisms.
4. Include volunteerism in the curricula of ASEAN educational institutions.
5. Establish a volunteer visa service for those who want to volunteer in Southeast Asia.

POLITICS AND SECUIRTY

ACSC Workshop: Solution for crisis in Arakan State: Strategy to be pushed forward by ASEAN
Continued sectarian violence between Rakhine and Rohingya communities in Arakan State, Myanmar, which started in June 2012 has resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Renewed violence in October 2012 has disproportionately affected the Rohingyas, who forms the majority of IDPs and compound the problems they already experience as stateless persons.

Irresponsible reporting of the conflict which frames the issue as a religious conflict between Muslims and Buddhists misrepresents a complex reality and risks exacerbating the situation, as violence towards other Muslim ethnic minorities has occurred and is spreading beyond Arakan State so that the whole country has been affected by the conflict. Rather than preventing violence, local authorities have been responsible for perpetrating human rights violations.

Any measures to resolve the crisis must be conflict sensitive and take into account the perspectives of both the Rakhine and Rohingya communities. A solution to the problem must be developed as part of a national initiative. The national government needs to play a key role in addressing the issue rather than allowing the humanitarian situation to deteriorate. International humanitarian aid has not been allowed access to the area. The investigation commission set up by the government in response to the crisis is currently preparing a report of its findings which will be released in December 2012.

Recommendations:

1. The government should review the 1982 Nationality Law in consultation with both Rohingya and Rakhine communities to develop a mutually agreeable solution.
2. The government should take appropriate action to establish rule of law to stop the violence, and in such a way that does not violate human rights.
3. The government should allow humanitarian agencies unfettered access to affected Rohingya and Rakhine communities and internally displaced persons in Arakan state.
4. The government should allow foreign journalists access to Arakan state.
5. National media should refrain from inflammatory reporting and provide objective coverage of the situation.
6. All victims of the violence in Arakan state should receive treatment for trauma and extensive measures should be taken by both state and non-state actors to ensure restoration of lasting peace, security, livelihood and development.

ASEAN Free and Fair Elections

Elections are a pre-condition to democracy and as they promote social, political, and economic development, all ASEAN member states, particularly those that do not currently hold elections, must commit to periodic, free and fair elections. Only then can we fulfill the potential of ASEAN and ensure it empowers its citizens and remains people-centered.

We encourage all ASEAN member states, their Election Management Bodies (EMBs) and civil society members to endorse the Bangkok Declaration on Free and Fair Elections. Created by civil society members and EMBs from across Asia, the declaration addresses, in a practical way, many of the challenges concerning elections in the ASEAN region. By endorsing and then implementing the Bangkok Declaration‟s principles by 2015, ASEAN governments can prove their full democratic legitimacy to become of the people, by the people and for the people they serve.

To hold a free and fair election, countries must, in the context of their own country and its unique challenges, nevertheless meet some specific criteria:

1. Have a complete electoral/legal framework that ensures universal participation of citizens and functional independence for Election Management Bodies.
2. The framework should empower minorities, marginalized citizens and other people with special challenges while promoting the full participation of women in elections and facilitating voting for citizens living abroad.
3. Systems for Electoral Dispute Resolution must ensure that all complaints and electoral disputes are settled in a timely and impartial manner with adequate investigation and neutral resolution mechanisms.
4. Voter lists must be accurate so as to ensure the right to vote for all citizens. Voter registration must be simple, convenient, accessible, available and conducted in a timely manner that results in an accurate, complete voter list.
5. The electoral campaign should be peaceful, free and fair. Media should be impartial.
6. There should be proper oversight of parties‟ campaign finances and no misuse or abuse of government resources or interference by security services.
7. Fair voting operations must include professional polling station management.
8. Both citizens and election officials must have adequate training and education to perform their roles reliably and responsibly.
9. Citizen Election Observers should be fully recognized, accredited, and included in elections.
Citizen observers can promote the integrity and transparency of the entire election process.
We urge ASEAN and/or its member states to utilize and benefit from the rich electoral experience found across Asia. We recommend they turn the documents into action and work together to build and ensure free and fair elections across the region.

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[Press Release] Pinoy-version Frankenstorms hit US, European countries Demand drastic GHG emissions cuts: cut it deep, cut it NOW! -PMCJ

Pinoy-version Frankenstorms hit US, European countries Demand drastic GHG emissions cuts: cut it deep, cut it NOW!

Manila, Philippines – Climate justice advocates and frankenstorms Sandy, Habagat, Sendong and Ondoy, stormed the United States Embassy to demand deep green house gas emissions cut, today.

The 1000-strong group led by Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) marched towards the embassy and talked to an actor personifying 2nd term President Barack Obama, asserting the need to commit to address climate change issues.

Gerry Arances, PMCJ coordinator said: “The inaction of US, the EU and other developed countries should now stop. These top historical emitters should stop shutting their eyes and ears from the many climate-related disasters happening in different parts of the globe. These industrialized countries should step up and accept their historical responsibility on the climate crisis and commit to drastic emission cuts.

“Today, we want to show the developed countries that these climate disasters will affect all of us. In the Philippines, we experienced a lot already. US states experienced frankenstorm Sandy last October—these are climate-related disasters caused by the increasing climate change impacts,” Arances added.

GermanWatch’s Global Risk Index 2012 reported the Philippines as 10th most affected by climate-disasters from 1991-2010, together with small island states and other developing countries such as Bangladesh and Vietman.

The action today is PMCJ’s contribution to the Global Week of Action to Demand Climate Justice on November 12-18, that is a globally coordinated action to raise the urgency for climate justice before the climate negotiations during the Conference of Parties (COP 18) in Doha, Qatar.

The “Global Week of Action for Climate Justice”, organized by the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, where PMCJ is a member of, is taking place in more than 25 countries and more than 50 cities across 5 continents (North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America).

Lidy Nacpil, Convenor of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) states – the global campaign to demand climate justice aims to force the US and President Obama to comply with its obligations and for them to stop serving as the biggest obstacle to international cliamte negotiations. Obama’s first term as US President did represent a change from this situation.

“Forward” was a key theme of his first campaigm. We say – live up to your own call – Forward on GHG emission cuts and climate finance on adaptation.

PMCJ, together with climate justice networks in other countries oppose false solutions to climate change and push for drastic actions to achieve a global temperature that will reduce the intensity and devastation of climate change in high risk states. Simultaneous actions to demand climate justice were also held in the cities of Davao, Cebu and Ozamis.

Manang Mary, a climate justice campaigner from Bulacan and a leader of Pagkakaisa Kilusan ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) asserts, “Until today, we, women farmers are still bearing the brunt of the effects of typhoons Pepeng and Sendong, as well as the recent Habagat. For us Filipinos, this might be our last on having a safe home and a stable climate”.

Community leaders like Manang Mary are demanding also to the industrialized countries, led by the US, an immidiate contribution of sufficient climate funds for adaptation to countries like the Philippines, to be able to effectively adapt to the effects of climate change, like typhoons and droughts.

“We are already in a state of planetary emergency. Now is the time to begin and demand climate justice.” Nacpil concluded.


About PMCJ:

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) is a broad movement consisting of basic sectors, grassroots communities, the marginalized and most vulnerable, including women, indigenous peoples, fisher folk and coastal communities, farmers and rural communities, forest communities, formal and informal workers, environmental groups, urban poor, and others in the Philippines that aims to lead the joint struggles, campaigns and actions in putting forward the climate justice framework as a fundamental element of solving the climate crisis.

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[Event/Statement] Join the Global Week of Action for Climate Justice. Join the mobilization on November 14!

DEMAND CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW!

Join the Global Week of Action for Climate Justice. Join the mobilization on November 14! 

Philippines: In the eye of a planetary storm

Eleven months after one of the most devastating typhoon hit the country, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan residents still bear the scar of those dreadful days. Typhoon Sendong ravaged the northern regions of Mindanao in 2011 and left 1, 257 people dead.

The monsoon rains in the first week of August of 2012 turned out to be more than what Filipinos are used to. Due to the intensity and devastation of the rains ushered in by the southsouthwest winds called habagat, to most of Greater Manila residents, habagat is now associated with the horrifying calamity that brought floods and destruction similar to that of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 which at that time was thought to be a rare phenomenon.

Typhoons Ondoy (2009), Peping (2009), Sendong (2011) and Habagat in 2012 which was not even technically a typhoon – are far becoming almost ‘normal’ occurrences for Filipinos because of climate change.

The Philippines is in the eye of a planetary storm, and it is called climate change.

• Many studies internationally show that the country is one of the most vulnerable when it comes to exposure and responding to severe weather caused by climate change.

• Aside from increase of numbers and intensity of storms visiting the country, drought is also increasing. In 2010, 16 provinces declared state of calamity due to extreme drought.

• A one meter rise in the sea level would mean a loss of 89,800 hectares according to Manila observatory. Based on other studies this would mean affecting 64 out of 81 provinces covering at least 703 out of 1,610 municipalities, which could potentially
displacing at least 1.5 million Filipinos.

• In the past years, there has been a steady rise of incidents of diseases such as leptospirosis, dengue and malaria. Studies show that there is a direct correlation between climate change and increase of incidents of these diseases.

Climate change affects the country’s food security and self-sufficiency. As warming will be worst in Mindanao, the supposedly country’s food basket will be greatly affected.

The increase in rainfall in Luzon, which usually results in massive flooding have been detrimental to rice production, where 60% of national irrigated rice production is located.

The Earth’s climate is destabilizing and the planet is in crisis Philippine experience is not isolated case. It is indicative of what has been happening in the global scale.

• Scientists predict that about 625,000 people will die each year from now until 2020 by causes driven by climate change.

• Many mountain glaciers, which act as source of water for millions of people, have significantly

• retreated. Changes in rain-fall patterns, due to climate change, are causing even greater waterstress particularly in Western Africa and South Asia.

• There is 80% less Arctic-sea ice today than in 1950. The melting of ice causes sea-level rise,

• threatening 600 million people living less than 10 metres above sea-level and coastal cities such as Mumbai, Shanghai, Manila, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Istanbul and 7 more of the world’s 20 biggest cities.

• The increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is causing ocean acidification. Some oceans are now 30% more acidic than normal, harming ocean habitats like coral reefs and destroying fish stocks. Increased ocean temperature also reduces growth-size
of fish. At least 1 billion people rely on fish for food and livelihoods.

• Crop-yields are diminishing. It is also estimated that climate-related food price hikes since 2005 have pushed more than 105 million people into poverty.

Those responsible to the climate are the industrialized countries, led by the United States of America (USA) and most countries that compose the European Union (EU), particularly their elites, transnational corporations and governments of these countries. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – ratified by more than 195 countries – states that industrialized countries are the one responsible for the historical, accumulated and continuing excessive greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. These countries are legally bound to radically cut their greenhouse gas (GHG) and provide developing countries with funds, like the Philippines, to enable them to deal with the effects of climate change.

But since the adopting the Climate Convention – the rich countries have not been fulfilling their obligations and now, led by the US, they are trying to turn their back on their commitments.

There is very little time left to prevent climate change from reaching catastrophic proportions not only for the Philippines but for the entire planet!

Mobilize for the planetary emergency and fight for climate justice!

We reiterate the call of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice which the Philippine
Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) is a part of —

Addressing the climate crisis requires profound social transformation in all countries and at all levels – local, national and global. It requires a rapid shift to systems of production and consumption that are compatible with the limits of the planet and aimed at meeting the needs of people rather than the relentless pursuit of profit. It requires immediate action by those responsible for climate change to make deep cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions and to stop false solutions such as offsets and carbon trading, and to mobilize finance and technology for peoples and countries most affected by climate change.

These will not happen without massive mobilization of people everywhere south and north. What we have done thus far have fallen short of overcoming the persistent refusal by powerful elites, corporations and governments to meet their responsibility and obligations and their efforts to stand in the way of social change.

We need to step up our efforts to build and exercise the power of collective action, in different forms at various fronts and arenas, at a scale never seen before. We need to build our capacity for globally coordinated mobilizations during critical political moments –progressively increasing the number of people mobilized, expanding the numbers of countries and cities participating, raising the scale, intensity and boldness of our actions, developing our strength and power to prevent planetary catastrophe.

Let us begin now!

Join the mobilization on November 14 – Assembly at 9:00am Bonifacio shrine in front of LRT
Central Station near Manila City hall; March to the US Embassy via Kalaw Street.
• Climate justice now!
• Deep emission cuts by US and EU and others responsible for the climate crisis!
• Deliver climate finance for affected peoples and communities!
• No more evasion, no more deception, no more false solutions!
• System change not climate change!

Our demand:
• Deep and drastic emissions reductions by rich industrialized countries without offsets -– in fulfilment of their legally binding commitments and in line with their fair share of the global carbon budget that takes into account historical per capita emissions
• Stopping the pursuit of false solutions such as carbon trading, market-based approaches to forests, soil and water, large-scale geo-engineering and techno-fixes, nuclear energy, mega hydro dams, agro-fuels, “clean coal”;
• Delivery of adequate and appropriate climate finance on the basis of rich, industrialized countries’ responsibility for climate change and their corresponding obligation to cover the full costs of enabling peoples of developing countries and other affected
communities to deal with the impacts of climate
• Appropriate technology transfers without intellectual property barriers. Developed countries must ensure free sharing of safe, appropriate and ecologically and socially sound technologies;
• Decisive steps towards the profound transformation of the system based on equity, science and the rights of peoples to live well in harmony with and respect for Mother Earth — Transformation of social and economic structures and technologies and reorient
policies to move away from profit-driven, growth oriented, high-carbon, elitedominated exploitative systems; Just transition to people-driven, equitable, and democratic post carbon sustainable development

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2nd HR Pinduteros Choice Awards

2nd HR Pinduteros Choice Awards

In celebration of the coming 2012 Human Rights Week in December and as a way to give thanks to HR Defenders who continued their support by patronizing and contributing online articles, photos, statement, press releases and other resources, HRonlinePH.com is holding its 2nd HR Pinduteros Choice Awards.

The HR Pinduteros Choice Awards is an online event that aims to give recognition to human rights defenders’ online activities (Individuals and groups) that informed, inspired and mobilized the online readers to our common cause that is to promote, defend and assert human rights utilizing the internet as a tool.

Online polling and popularization of the event also hopes to contribute in increasing awareness and build up for the international HR day celebration in December 10, 2012 through encouraging the netizens to visit and learn more about human rights issues, campaigns and etc. posted and featured in different HR sites.

Human Rights Pinduteros is a community of internet users, HR advocates and activist who as a network promote and defend HR and believe in HRonlinePH.com’s call to inform, inspire and mobilize our readers to our cause online and offline.

“2nd HR Pinduteros Choice Awards” aims to:

1. Encourage active HR promotions and posting
2. Recognize online efforts for human rights
3. Promote HR activities online and offline
4. Encourage more readers and patronage for HR sites and causes

Recognitions/Categories for HRonlinePH pinduteros’ (readers’) choice 2012
• 2012 most clicked HR bloggers
• 2012 most clicked HR website
• Top HR bloggers posts 2012
• Top HR networks post 2012
• Top HR event 2012
• Top HR photo 2012
• Top HR off the shelf 2012
• Top HR video 2012

Mechanics

Nominees were chosen from the top items per category posted in HRonlinePH.com based on the hits generated from the period of October 2011 to September 30, 2012.

50% of the score for winning post will be based on HRonlinePH.com statistics

50% will be based on an online voting/polling which will be held from the period of October 2012 to November 30 2012.

Winners will be announced and awarded during the HR week 2012 celebration. (Exact date and venue to be announced)

[Blog] The $1Billion should go to the Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers’ Need and not to the IMF’s economic recovery plan by Jose Mario De Vega

The $1Billion should go to the Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers’ Need and not to the IMF’s economic recovery plan

On behalf of my people, I, as a Filipino expatriate condemn to the highest possible degree the madness and idiocy of the Aquino regime in its stupid and preposterous act of lending U$1Billion dollars to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) while ironically it is so blind and stingy when it comes to the need and welfare of the Filipino overseas contract workers all over the world.
The whole episode is so absurd, to say the least.

It is but just and logical that the said money should be use and utilized for the need and welfare of those Filipinos working abroad by virtue of the inescapable fact that a big chuck of the dollar reserve of the country comes from the remittances sent regularly and religiously by the millions of overseas Filipino workers who are spread across the world in over 190 countries.
Supposedly, the said amount is a big help for the government to continue in its operations of ten (10) embassies and consulates which this heartless regime intends to close. Needless to state, the continued operations of these institutions is so important and vital, so that, at least those Filipinos in distress abroad have a refuge and a haven to run to, in the event that they’ve encountered mishap and unfortunate circumstance in a foreign soil.

If the Philippine will close those embassies and consulates, where the hell those Filipino workers abroad will go for help and assistance?

Further, a big portion of this amount of money would be a big help in the process of repatriating and sending home those OFW’s stranded in Bahrain, Syria, Kuwait, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia by virtue of the fact that they do not have means nor ticket to go home.

Furthermore, instead of lending this money, it would be better and more appropriate to rather use the said fund for purposes of reintegrating and rehabilitating those OFW’s who were victims of abuse, caught in the war-zone, conflict areas, human trafficking and other various forms of human rights violations.

Needless to state, said amount of money is a huge capital investment to improve and develop the economy of the country, so that, professionals like me would not be force to leave the country and work in a foreign land.

I cannot help but wonder that, the Philippines do have this big amount of dollar reserve, yet instead of using it for the benefit first of its people, why the hell are we going to lend this money to the IMF?

If the Philippines’ dollar reserve is now accumulating, why on earth are we now going to let go of the said reserves? What is the purpose of this? What is the end-results of this transaction?
I am not against the government lending and helping other countries, yet, for everything, there is the proper and right time.

It is my firm contention that giving and/or lending this amount to IMF at this time is inappropriate and highly irregular.

The bases of my fierce opposition to this questionable transaction are the following:

a. Why the hell the IMF is the one who is deciding and dictating to my government, who should be help and who should not be help? Who the hell are they in the first place? We are an independent and sovereign republic!
b. In my view, the IMF will undeniably utilize this fund or amount to further drown those countries already embroiled into financial turmoil; countries such as Greece, Turkey and Spain.
c. Another crucial central issue here as reported by one site is the pertinent question of: “How can Malacanang justify the loan as helping the Europeans when the supposed beneficiaries have rejected the IMF bailout and its conditionalities? By protests and through the polls, the workers and people of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and France have all rejected IMF austerity?”
d. I smell something fishy and dirty here, if the said IMF bailout is already rejected, the countries subject of the said help; then why the hell the said transaction is still being push through?
e. Why the hell, a poor, third world country, like the Philippines should shoulder the problem of these big European nations? Where the hell is the European Union (EU) on this? Where’s the World Bank (WB)? Where is the United States of America (USA)?
f. It is ironic that, given the rising numbers of the unemployed Filipino youths and the large number of the Filipino professionals working abroad, it is so disgusting and irritating for the Aquino regime to squander this fund which is the money of the Filipino people. This is the irony of all ironies…
g. The unreasonable act of the said regime borders on both ignorance and arrogance. Ignorance to the sad plight of the Filipino people and arrogance in the eyes on those Filipino expatriates like me, who works here abroad, so far away from my land and my loved-ones. Shame on his government! Disgrace to his anti-Filipino regime!
h. It seems to me, that the Aquino regime is showing its true color and class origin; instead of helping the poor people, the workers, the farmers, the out-of-school youths, the OFW’s and other downtrodden masses, this moron decided to help the IMF to ‘help’ those European countries sunk into financial crisis. This is the height of injustice and infamy!
Hence, I reiterate my condemnation to the inhumane, idiotic and immoral act of the Aquino regime of lending the IMF in the amount of 1$Billion at the expense and detrimental of the needs, rights and welfare of the whole Filipino people!

All the Filipinos must unite to stop this transaction!

The said money must go to the Filipino people, not to the IMF!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

June 29, 2012
Subang Jaya, Darul Ehsan,
Selangor, Malaysia

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[Press Release] EU Ambassadors meet the NGO Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

EU Ambassadors meet the NGO Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

On 28 May, Ambassadors from European Union Member States and Head of the EU Delegation in the Philippines, Mr. Guy Ledoux, met with the Philippine NGO Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) at Bantayog Memorial, Quezon City – a well-known place of commemoration for the victims of Martial Law and torture. The diplomats were welcomed by Sister Crescencia Lucero, Co-Chairperson of the TFDP Board, and by Executive Director Emmanuel Amistad. The visit was a welcome opportunity not only to receive an implementation update of a project funded by the EU with PHP 2.750.000 but to also discuss the situation of human rights in the Philippines, especially with regard to the upcoming 2nd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the country, to take place on 29 May 2012 at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

During the meeting the diplomats witnessed a presentation by TFDP on their work as one of the oldest NGOs of the country, established during the height of Martial Law in 1974. This was followed by an overview of the EU funded project that aims to popularize and build awareness on human rights and in particular torture and violence against women and children.

Mr. Amistad stated: “Since its inception this project has allowed TFDP to raise awareness on torture and violence, especially against women and children, with members of society that are most vulnerable to abuses. Through this project we were able to reach women and children in the communities, teach them how to spot and document human rights abuses and how to claim their rights.”

He added: “In 2009 the Philippines adopted its Anti-Torture Law, an important instrument to penalize torture and seek redress for victims. TFDP, also through this project, was involved with other stakeholders in the drafting of Implementing Rules and Regulations on this law that should make it a more effective tool in the fight against impunity in the Philippines.”

Ambassador Ledoux welcomed the cooperation between the EU and TFDP. He noted: “The Philippines will be undergoing their second Universal Periodic Review in the UN Human Rights Council tomorrow, on May 29. This peer review exercise is of particular importance since it will constitute a follow-up to the recommendations made in 2008, when the Philippines underwent the UPR for the first time. Since then, the Philippine government has made several important efforts, including in its legislative agenda, in improving good and effective governance, and in tackling economic, social and cultural rights through increased work on reducing poverty. Indeed, significant budget increases could recently be noted in the areas of education, health and social security.”

He continued: “On the international level, the Philippine government has reaffirmed its commitment to upholding the respect of human rights, especially with last year’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and this year’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).”

Ambassador Ledoux noted: “While significant progress has been made in the area of human rights more needs to be done to effectively tackle shortcomings, notably in the area of impunity, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The European Union continues to offer its assistance to both the Philippine government and the civil society in addressing these issues.”

Democracy, the rule of law and human rights are the core values of the European Union. This is reflected in the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), an EU flagship programme for the promotion of human rights. Currently the EU Delegation is managing several projects under the EIDHR, among them the current project with TFDP “Dialogue and Consensus-building for the Monitoring and Prevention of Torture and Violence against Women and Children”.

Media Contact: Thelma Gecolea, Public Affairs Officer, Phone 859 5124

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[From the web] Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, May-June 2012

Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, May-June 2012

INTRODUCTION

In this submission, prepared for the UN Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines taking place in May-June 2012, Amnesty International comments on the government’s implementation of recommendations supported by the Philippines during its previous UPR in 2008, including recommendations concerning women’s rights, torture, extra-judicial executions, and enforced disappearances.

Improvements in the human rights situation on the ground have been slow as the Philippines has struggled to implement both its existing and recently enacted laws related to the protection of human rights. Hundreds of cases of extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances from the last decade remain unresolved, and unlawful killings and enforced disappearances continue to be reported. Despite the introduction of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, state security forces have continued to practice or be complicit in torture. The government’s continued failure to disarm and disband private armed groups places civilians at risk. Access to reproductive health information and services is restricted. Abortion is criminalized, including where pregnancy puts a woman’s life at risk.

FOLLOW UP TO THE PREVIOUS REVIEW

In its first UPR in 2008, the Philippines accepted a number of recommendations made by other States, including on issues pertaining to women’s rights,1 human rights training,2 torture,3 extrajudicial executions,4 and enforced disappearances. The Philippines also announced a number of voluntary commitments around issues such as violence against women and children, and killings of activists and media professionals.5

Since then, the Philippines has taken positive steps in enacting specific laws for the protection of human rights, particularly as regards women’s rights. The government has made good progress with the August 2009 enactment of the Magna Carta of Women, which provides legal protection
from all forms of violence and from discrimination in employment, education and training.6

However, while the Magna Carta of Women is a step forward in promoting women’s rights, its effective implementation is yet to be seen.

Other recommendations do not appear to have been fully implemented, in particular with respect to torture, extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances. However, some positive developments have taken place, including the introduction of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 which identifies torture and other ill-treatment as criminal acts punishable in the most severe cases by life imprisonment and also provides for the right to a prompt and impartial investigation. In July 2010, the military leadership ordered all units to appoint a designated human rights officer, tasked with investigating allegations of human rights abuses, and with assisting victims in filing cases against alleged perpetrators. In August 2010, the military published a human rights handbook with funding from the European Union, announcing at the same time that it would provide human rights training to soldiers. In December 2010 the military announced a “paradigm shift” in its counter-insurgency policy, arguing that it was replacing previous strategies which had led to human rights violations, with a new strategy, the Internal Peace and Security Plan, which accords primacy to human rights.7

However, Amnesty International is concerned that state forces continue to be implicated in serious human rights violations such as torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances. Impunity for such violations persists. Unlawful killings and abduction by non-state actors also continue. Moreover, the Philippines has failed to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, despite having accepted a recommendation to do so.8

Read full report @ AI_2_Philippines104 UPR 13th session

[In the news] EU wants early Mindanao peace deal -MindaNews.com

EU wants early Mindanao peace deal
By Bong S. Sarmiento, MindaNews.com
February 11, 2012

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/10 February) – Ambassadors from member-countries of the European Union have reiterated their support to the Mindanao peace process, and urged at the same time for a speedy forging of a final peace agreement.

The regional bloc currently provides P180 million in grants to the peace process between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

EU Head of Delegation Guy Ledoux and ambassadors Wilhelm Donko of Austria, Jorge Domecq of Spain and Stephen Lillie of the United Kingdom came to Cotabato City Wednesday to voice anew the bloc’s support to the peace talks.

“Our visit to Mindanao demonstrates the EU’s strong support for the Mindanao peace process. A peaceful settlement to the conflict is essential for the Philippines’ economic and social development, and we commend the GPH and MILF panels on their efforts so far,” Ledoux said in a statement.

The EU is currently providing P180 million in grants under its Instrument for Stability which supports the International Monitoring Team (IMT), as well as local and international NGOs involved in both the civilian protection component of the IMT and the International Contact Group.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

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