Tag Archives: Human rights commission

[In the news] MARTIAL LAW VICTIMS | Hidden under a mat, ‘parang ‘yong Schindler’s List’ -InterAksyon.com

MARTIAL LAW VICTIMS | Hidden under a mat, ‘parang ‘yong Schindler’s List
By InterAksyon.com
September 16, 2012

“Ano ba trabaho mo ‘Tay [Father, what do you do for a living]?” journalist Estrella Torres, 39, recalled asking her father Eric when she was still in elementary grade.

Estrella was only three years old when she, her older brother, and mother went with Eric, an activist-teacher, to the detention center in Camp Crame, Quezon City in 1976.

She only has a hazy recollection of what had happened inside the camp.

rewad full article @ www.interaksyon.com

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Featured Video] Youth leaders, Dakila Artists and DJs for #rememberML@40

On the 40th Anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, let us push for the ‘Compensation Act’ for all victims of human rights violations of the Marcoses,

JOIN us in our pledge to remember, inform and inspire the youth with the truth and lessons that our nation learned from this dark period of our history.

I pledge to…

Never Again to Martial Law!
We remember, we inform, we inspire
Our youth with the truth and lessons of Martial Law.

and Invite people to…
1. Like and share the “Remember ML@40” FB page https://www.facebook.com/rememberMLatl40
2. Invite/recruit 40 or more others to like “Remember ML@40” FB page and ask them to recruit 40 more
3. Submit and/or post own “Pinky Pledge Photo” and ask others to do the same
4. Like and share all posts from “Remember ML@40” FB page
5. Participate in the “Online action day”
6. Change profile pic on September 21, 2012

[From the web] “AN OVERVIEW OF CHR WORK OVER THE PAST NINETEEN MONTHS” September 1, 2011 to April 2012 by Hon. Loretta Ann Rosales

Speech of Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales During the ANNI Activity
April 23, 2012


There are advantages and disadvantages to being a member of the human rights movement which helped topple the Marcos dictatorship when it comes to the choice of the CHR Chair.

As known teacher leader of the human rights movement that fought the late Mr. Marcos, my credentials were clear as human rights advocate. My six years as Chair of the House Committee on Human Rights where the newly elected President was onetime Chair and member added to this track record, but my strong criticism of certain factions of the Left had kept me controversial among these factions of civil society.

When news came out sometime in June 2010 that I was a possible candidate to chair the Commission on Human Rights with the appointment of then Chair De Lima as Department of Justice Secretary, Left leaders from the human rights movement protested strongly and gradually merged their protest to certain voices from the CHR stating that the Paris Principles must guide the decision of the elected President in his choice of the CHR Chair. These loud protests made me controversial before the public and so the President took his time until close to three months, asked me if I was ready before he appointed me as Chair.

The new administration started in July but it was only in September where my appointment became official and, before the month was over, I slipped and fell in the hotel where we had our conference on the implementing rules of R.A. 9745, the Anti-Torture Act and broke my humerus located in my right upper arm. I had a major surgery but by December I slipped again and the same broken bone was affected. But a badly broken arm of the Chair did not stop the CHR from coming up with a roadmap which was presented lengthily in Malacanang, forcing the President to shorten his speech, as the joke was carried on several days after.

There were two fundamental messages in the Roadmap Speech on December 10, 2010.

  • First, the speech underscored the CHR perspective of itself as a national human rights institution. CHR saw itself evolving as a Comprehensive Monitor engaged in investigation and monitoring of the entire range of human rights from civil, political to economic, social and cultural. The 1987 Charter was explicit in the first set of rights but silent when it came to economic, social and cultural rights. This is particularly important because practice in these nineteen months of work would show that investigation of civil and political rights violations cannot be dichotomized and made separate from the economic and social underpinnings of these violations. There were two resolutions deliberated on involving these issues: a Resolution calling for the scrutiny and investigation by the DENR of a sixteen-year program of large scale mining in a little village called DIDIPIO in Northeast Luzon. The issue remains controversial and so far, despite CHR repeated warnings, Oceanagold, the mining company, is progressing in getting the government’s full consent to allow mining operations in the village. Evidently, the issue is now part of a call for government to review its mining policies as mining operations easily spawn internal conflict when business operations are provided protection by law enforcers such as the police. Outside of DIDIPIO, we have subsequent ongoing investigation on reported casualties on the ground brought about by armed conflict between the security forces and oftentimes rebel groups who recruit IPs to join them. These cases are found in Regions 9, 13, and 5 where armed conflict is common staple normally followed by the evacuation of residents.
  • A second basic lesson put forward by the Roadmap was the focus on human rights as a perspective in addressing corruption to pave the way to development. Cleaning government of corruption does not automatically lead to an end to poverty. Only a rights-based approach to governance and development can ensure the protection and fulfillment of the rights of those without access to justice.

Outside of DIDIPIO, another controversial issue tackled in the last quarter of 2010, my first quarter of work, was the issue of women’s rights against discrimination where women workers of PAL Airlines were made to retire at the age of forty to give way to young airline hostesses in their twenties. Because the Chair took a strong position in favor of the PAL employees and because we succeeded in supporting the Department of Labor in protecting the rights of workers, FASAP, the coalition of Airline stewards and stewardesses, expressed its appreciation to the CHR who came to their rescue in the thick of battle.

On hindsight, the call for the Paris Principles as guideline coming from the Commission on Human Rights could not have been more apt in underscoring the present state of affairs at the level of policy making. Prior to my assumption of Chairmanship, under the prior administration, the choice of Commissioners did not go through these UN guidelines but was a product of individual influential voices where human rights track record as criterion did not fully define the choice of commissioner. True to tradition, it was whom you knew that put you in place; hence, the differences in decision-making reflects the diverse perspectives used with a penchant for what is legal, rather than for what defines human rights felt among certain individual commissioners.

As an important provision in the Charter Bill of the CHR, the Paris Principles appears an imperative in strengthening the collective leadership of the Commission.

  • Bureaucratic Inertia and the Need for a Common Language

If I were to be asked what I see as the major obstacle to advancing human rights within the Commission, I would readily point to bureaucratic inertia as the culprit. I felt then and I still do now that only when the Commission develops a common language in human rights can we genuinely move forward. As the Philippine National Police Human Rights Affairs Officers (HRAOs) repeatedly explain, learning human rights means first and foremost learning the laws that protect the ordinary citizens from criminal offenses. Ignorance of the law makes a law enforcer vulnerable to committing human rights violations. If this is true for the police and the military, it certainly is true too for members of the Commission.

The bureaucratic inertia that obstructs certain sections of the Commission from accomplishing their work through cooperation with other sections has contributed to gross inefficiency and delay in the delivery of services by the Commission. A case in point is the proper and efficient management of cases of human rights violations. Upon review of the performance of all fifteen regional offices in the completion of the cases filed within their offices, I was shocked to find out that there is a backlog of close to 12,000 cases, 11,730 to be exact from the old data base of the Third Commission from the years 2000 to 2008 that need to be sorted out and organized. Under the Fourth Commission, there are three regional offices that have distinguished themselves as laggards in the completion and submission of their cases for litigation in both the executive and judicial branches of government.

Until such time that these regional offices are able to internalize the fact that delay in the submission of completed human rights cases is a denial of justice and therefore a violation of the citizen’s right to access to justice, the Commission will continue to be remiss in the delivery of its services to the general public. In this regard, the Commission will be contributing to, rather than solving the problem of human rights violations.

  • The Inter-relatedness and Inter-action of CHR Work in Addressing its Mandate

Under Article XIII of the Constitution entitled ‘Human Rights’, Sections 18 and 19 provide the Commission a broad mandate that includes the whole range of human rights that must be protected through legal and preventive measures. Section 18, paragraph 3 in particular underscores “appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons x x x and provide for preventive measures and legal aid services to the underprivileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection”. I ask you, how many of the 11,730 backlog cases are those of the “underprivileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection”? And yet this was not a problem of priority in the agenda at the highest level of policy-making when I came in as Chair; it was a problem we discovered recently when we were trying to rationalize data from the regions with data through manual and electronic inputs.

There are two strategies we are working on to resolve this gross problem I have mentioned and these have to do with fulfilling our Constitutional mandate “to establish a continuing program of research, education, and information to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights” (Section 18, par. 5) which apparently need to be internalized in their individual functions and in their inter-relatedness for the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights.

I am proud to say that under the current leadership of the 4 th Commission, we have just finished codifying our Manual on Internal Rules of Procedure and rationalizing this with our Manual on Case Management which will have to be rationalized with the Martus Executive Information System (MAREIS) which, in turn, is digitizing the flow of information from the folders of investigators in all the fifteen regions to the National Offices. We need a common language and understanding of the definition of what human rights violations are, using international norms, domestic statutes and CHR resolutions and advisories. In this regard, we hope to fulfill with more depth and breadth our mandate as provided in Article 13, Section 18, paragraph 5 (13/18/5) which calls for establishing “a continuing program of research, education, and information to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights”.

  • We are in the process of analyzing data from the specific cases submitted by the regions to the National Office. This is work in progress, but we hope to institutionalize our delivery of evidence-based information to the public quarterly through analysis of statistics regularly submitted from the region.
  • We are making more efficient the completion of cases and subsequent submission for litigation. In this manner, the cases that are completed can provide rich material for continuing human rights education especially to the members of the Commission, the security forces and the members of the Criminal Justice System with whom we are establishing agreements on human rights-related activities. The recent MOA with the Department of Justice last April 16 is an example of this effort.
  • We are focused in a program localizing human rights based approach to governance, development and social protection. The rich experiences of the CHR through grassroots regional work can provide models for learning and discussion on the ground.
  • A historical breakthrough is the Regional Office we are setting in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where we hope to cut the ribbon for opening the new human rights office that will be located in the Office of the Regional Government Complex (ORG).
  • Solidarity with the International Community and Civil Society

Last, but not least, is the continuing and strengthening ties with solidarity groups in the human rights movement at both international and local levels. As former Chair of the Southeast Asian National Human Rights Institution Forum (I would have preferred to chair the regional grouping in my second year of office), I saw the rich potential of solidarity work among NHRIs in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific (APF).

Now, as Vice-Chair of the Business and Human Rights Group of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), I am exposed to the global network of NHRIs which I find most inspiring as I see the potentials of NHRIs in their domestic capacity in broad alliance with CSOs and NHRIs coming together in regional groupings that can parallel regional governments or collectively address individual nations within their regional area of jurisdiction.

I end up by saying that NHRIs have no other direction but to strengthen themselves internally as individual human rights mechanisms in order to exercise their mandate within their own countries, but keeping in mind that we live in a global village where we do have a role to play in building our international community of human rights through networking and deepening our human relations with each other by respecting each other’s dignity and integrity within the framework of human rights.

Loretta Ann P. Rosales

Source: http://www.chr.gov.ph

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[From the web] A mother’s grief -INQUIRER.net

A mother’s grief.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 30, 2012

The mother of desaperacido Jonas Burgos marked over the weekend the fifth anniversary of his disappearance, but with scaled-down expectation of finding him still alive. In terms both poignant and bitter, Edita Burgos has virtually admitted that prospects have dimmed for her ever finding her son alive, so she has braced herself for the truth. “My standards have gone down through the years,” she said. “Whereas before, I’d say ‘Give him back to me alive and well, and let justice be served,’ now I just want to find out what really happened. Because if I find out the truth, I’ll also find him.”

Jonas is the son of Edita and the late journalist and publisher Jose Burgos Jr., who won the Press Freedom Hero Award from the International Press Institute in 2000. Since April 28, 2007, when Jonas, then a 37-year-old agriculturist, was seized allegedly by military agents in a Quezon City mall, the Burgos family has gone to court, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and even the United Nations seeking to hold the military accountable.

Jonas’ case is among several cases typical of the previous administration that became notorious for several unsolved disappearances and killings of dissidents, fostering a culture of impunity that derided human rights and the rule of law.

Read full article @ opinion.inquirer.net

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] CHR to probe reports on jail visit suspension -Cebu Daily News

CHR to probe reports on jail visit suspension
February 29, 2012

AN inquiry into the suspension of jail visits and delays in the delivery of food to inmates of the Cebu Provincial Rehabilitation and Detention Center (CPDRC) may be in the offing.

Primo Cadampog, supervising investigator of the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7), said three relatives of the inmates sought assistance from their office to look into the suspension.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia suspended jail visits and dance practices for the inmates after a near-riot last week.
Cadampog said the CHR-7 will have to coordinate with the Capitol, which has direct supervision over the CPDRC.
Arvin Odron, head of the CHR-7′s legal division, said the right to jail visitation is under the regulation of jail officials.

“If jail visitation has been regulated, that’s okay and reasonable,” Odron said.

Read full article @ cebudailynews.wordpress.com

[Press Release] Melanie Cordon the OFW falsely charged of theft and tried in absentia is released after serving her sentence – AHRC

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Melanie Cordon the OFW falsely charged of theft and tried in absentia is released after serving her sentence

(Hong Kong, January 17, 2012) The Asian Human Rights Commission has been informed that Melanie Cordon, the Overseas Filipino Worker who was arrested in Saudi Arabia has been released after serving her prison term of four months.

Melanie was arrested after being accused of theft by the mother of her employer on August 14, 2011. She was never given an opportunity to defend herself and was tried in absentia. According to the information received, when Melanie went to the lady’s house to retrieve her belongings prior to departing the country she found that her suitcase had been opened and examined by a woman police officer. Items belong to her employer’s mother, which Melanie had never seen before, were found in her luggage.

After being tried in absentia Melanie was convicted and sentenced to four months imprisonment in Ha’il Main Prison. Despite assurances from the Philippine Embassy and Mr. Raul Hernandez of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila no assistance of any kind was provided and the only advice the embassy officer could give was that she should simply serve out her sentence.

Melanie was released on December 14 and will now return home to the Philippines, free and well but with a criminal record against name.

For full details of the case please see the following statements and Urgent Appeals:

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Falsely charged domestic worker convicted in trial in absentia

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Falsely charged domestic worker convicted in trial in absentia

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Melanie Cordon case – government‘s neglect & inability to act promptly

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Melanie Cordon case – government’s neglect & inability to act promptly

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Melanie Cordon case – ‘serve jail term rather than question your conviction’

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Melanie Cordon case – ‘serve jail term rather than question your conviction’

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Melanie Cordon serves out sentence as government turns its back

SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Melanie Cordon serves out sentence as government turns its back

While Melanie appears to have been well treated by the prison officials, a fact for which everyone is very grateful, she now returns to the Philippines to a doubtful future. The lack of attention and action by the government of the Philippines and especially Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs serves as an appalling indictment of their lack of commitment to the OFWs who bring in millions of dollars in revenue annually.
# # #
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Visit our new website with more features at http://www.humanrights.asia.


[Announcement] Philippine accession to the OPCAT gained another step – UATC

Dear Colleagues and Human Rights Advocates,

Greetings! The Philippine accession to the OPCAT gained another step
yesterday, December 13, when Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, sponsored Resolution 664 calling on the senate
to concur with the decision of the chief executive to adopt the OPCAT.  At
the same time,  Senator Legarda endorsed the government decision to defer
the implementation of Part III of the OPCAT which will prevent the visit of
the Sub Committee on Torture (SPT) for three years after the Philippines
shall have acceded to the protocol.

In explaining her position, Senator Legarda  said the government  need some
time to improve prison and custodial, detention and custodial  facilities.
She  implied that the government could remedy the three biggest problem of
places of detention in the Philippines, such as (1) overcrowding due to
slow processing of cases of inmates, (2) outbreak of diseases, and (3) poor
jail environment that impedes effective rehabilitation of detainees. She
pointed out, however, that   the deferment will  not preclude the
establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) which is a very
important torture prevention mechanism cited under the OPCAT.

The United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), whose secretariat is being
chaired by Balay, was present at the senate. While it   has called for the
full adoption of the OPCAT it  nonetheless welcomed the development as it
has moved the process towards the fulfilment of the Philippine accession to
the OPCAT.

The next step ahead is for the senate to discuss and vote on Resolution
664. This could take place in  around  two plenary sessions of the senate.
As the senate will end its session for the year, it could take up the
matter again next year. If all goes well, the entire process could be
completed in the  first quarter of 2012. However, there could be serious
impediments along the way. This is due to the move of legislators to
impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona. This political exercise  is
likely to distract the senators from their legislative tasks. This means
that lobby efforts have to be sustained until  Resolution 664 is approved.

In the meantime, the drafting of the bill for the establishment of the NPM
has to commence. Balay is just waiting for the documents promised by some
colleagues at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)  so it can proceed with
the UATC plan to hold study sessions and workshops with the proper offices
of the Commission.

Now, as we monitor  further developments at the senate, we may consider
writing the office of Senator Loren Lagarda and other members of the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations to congratulate them  for their efforts in
pushing for the senate concurrence to the OPCAT accession. At the same
time, we may  call on them to take their efforts further until Senate
Resolution 664 is finally approved.

Thanks so much for all your solidarity and support


Kaloy A. Anasarias
Executive Director
Balay Rehabilitation Center
Secretariat, UATC

[Press Release] KIDMADI Bishops Reject the XSTRATA/SMI – Tampakan Copper and Gold Project

The Dioceses of Kidapawan, Marbel and Digos (KIDMADI) reiterate their opposition against the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project by the London based XSTRATA/SMI. As pastors of the flock, they are deeply troubled and concerned on the irreversible damage to the environment particularly to the biodiversity and the last remaining forest, livelihood, food security, health and of the poor communities both of the IPs and the down-stream communities. It is the biggest direct foreign investment to the country at present which amounting to $5.6B, but will it augment its critical damage to agriculture and livelihood of the stakeholders and the country’s economy.

Bishop Romulo dela Cruz, D.D., the ordinary of the diocese of Kidapawan in his letter addressed to the SMI said, “ I have serious reservations about the humongous scale of the project.” And after thorough evaluation and assessment of the EIS  he further noted that, “it fails to convince me that the good which can be expected of the project will outweigh the harm that it brings to man and nature alike. As it stands, I cannot support the project.”

The present mining policies of the Philippines such as Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942), EO 270 (Revitalization of the Philippine Mining industry) and other statutes are all for the extraction of the countries natural resources. These exploitative and destructive mining activities do not promote neither guarantee a Sustainable Development in those communities.

Our National Patrimony, our mineral reserves are exploited aggressively favoring the foreign investors, and what would be left to the Filipino people? Hazardous Waste? The 2% excise tax and other local taxes in which the mining companies are boasting are all fictitious because of its very minimal contribution of the mining industry to the Gross National Product (GNP).

The countries metallic minerals will be all gone and our laws only provide pitiful taxes will be provided for but its destruction of the watershed, protected areas and agricultural zones are irreversible. This economic condition pushes the poor to be marginalized. The poor will be the most vulnerable sector. ALL OUR PRECIOUS METALS ARE GONE FOR FREE. The Mining Act of 1995 and the EO 270 are inconsistent to the newly approved National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (NCCAP) 2011-2028 signed by President Benigno C. Aquino III last November 22, 2011.

The Tampakan Copper and Gold Project will go against P’noys’ seven (7) strategic priorities to combat climate change: 1) food security, 2) water sufficiency, 3) ecosystem and environmental stability, 4) human security, 5) climate smart industries and services, 6) sustainable energy, and 7) knowledge and capacity development.

Above all, it goes against the Philippine Constitution which declares as a state policy “to promote healthy and balance ecology.” (Art 2, Sect. 16)

One serious emerging condition of the IP communities defending for their ancestral land is the escalation of violence. According to Fr. Rey Ondap, CP of the Catholic Mission on Indigenous Peoples, “because of strong opposition, tension are prevalent.” There was an alleged harassment of the military in the IP communities. Bishop Dinualdo of Marbel has urged the concerned parties that “we must avoid the escalation of violence.”

After 17 to 20 years SMI/XSTRATA will approximately mine 6.375 million tonnes of copper (375, 000 tonnes per annum) and 6.120 million ounces of gold (360, 000 ounces per annum of gold) in concentrate, who will manage those huge infrastructures? We call for a moratorium to seriously adhere to the voice of the communities.

Bishop Jimmy Afable of Digos shows similar concern since the facilities like fresh water dam and tailings dam will be constracted at the Mal River Catchment, but these huge storage facilities are directly under criss-crossing faultlines. This apprehension was seconded by the reviewer of the EIS of the company that “The Tampakan mine has a high potential for loss of life and  high  environmental damage if a failure of  Dams or Rock Storage facilities occurs.”
Even if the company argues that putting this huge structures under international standard.
The $76M Environmental Impact Assessment cost of the XSTRATA/SMI is not enough study the impact of mining on this one of the most bio-diverse area comprehensively.

It still leaves five general impacts that are not adequately answered:  1) the displacement and resettlement of onsite households, 2) the loss of onsite forest lands and biodiversity resources, 3) the diversion of surface and groundwater for the use of the mine and the displacement of existing in-stream and off stream users, 4) the acid drainage, spillage, leakages, overflows and the pollution of natural water source; 5) the risks of a tailings dam failure or collapse.

The letter of request for a meeting with the president sent by the 3 bishops, Bp. Dinualdo D. Guttierrez, Bp. Jimmy Afable and Bp. Romulo dela Cruz was received in Malacañang last Nov. 9, 2011 tend to discuss with the president some serious concern on XSTRATA/SMI Copper and Gold Project. It pertains to the open pit mining that is very destructive and the location of the mine is in the heart of Quezon Mountain Range and at the same time, at the heart of our forest and watershed. Up to the present no reply was heard concerning the request.

The three (3) dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church gathered the strong 108, 424 signatures that signify the validity of the issues and will be submitted to Malacañang on Dec. 14, 2011 through the National Social Action Secretariat (NASSA-CBCP).



(Sgd) Most. Rev. Romulo dela Cruz, D.D.
(Diocese of Kidapawan)

(Sgd) Most Rev. Dinualdo D. Gutierrez, D.D.
(Diocese of Marbel)

(Sgd) Most Rev. Jimmy Affable, D.D.
(Diocese of Digos)

[Event] Human rights defenders’ forum with the Commission on Human Rights

Dear  HRDs and Advocates,


The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), and the Alternative Law Groups (ALG) invite you to attend the HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS’ FORUM WITH THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS  on December 12, 2011, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., at the CHR Multi-Purpose Hall, Diliman, Quezon City.

One key component of the CHR’s Roadmap and Key Strategies is the institutionalization of CHR-civil society relationship.   To contribute to this desired goal of institutionalizing CHR-CSO relationship, CHR, PAHRA, and the ALG will organize a series of discussion sessions between the CHR officers and the human rights defenders.  Each session is expected to gather around 30-40 participants, composed of CHR officers and HR Defenders.  The December 12 forum is the first in this series of dialogues.

The discussion sessions will have as a primary objective the strengthening of the cooperation between the CSO human rights defenders and the CHR officers, both at the policy level and at the grassroots level.   The discussion sessions will be a venue to tackle recently enacted policies, and proposed policies, specially the pending bill on the CHR Charter.  Furthermore, the sessions will serve as a forum to discuss the enhancement and institutionalization of cooperative mechanisms for CSO defenders and CHR officers’ parallel and complementary works for human rights promotion and protection.

This initiative is being undertaken as part of the Defend the Defenders Program (Program for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Defenders), a partnership between the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Alternative Law Groups (ALG).  The program is primarily a funding mechanism for activities that seek to protect the country’s human rights defenders, especially those working on economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR), against threatened or actual abuses and rights violations that they encounter in relation to their advocacy work.

For your reference, we attached a concept note, which describes the December 12, 2011 Forum and the Defend the Defenders Program.

We hope that you can join us in this activity, which is part of this year’s celebration of Human Rights Day.

Thank you very much.

Very truly yours,

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates

Alternative Law Groups (ALG)

[Event] OPCAT Global Forum live streaming schedule

Dear fellow freedom from torture advocates,

On the 10th and 11th of November, Geneva, the OPCAT Global Forum will take place. The objectives of this event is for the various OPCAT advocates from all over the world to come together to assess the results and impact of the OPCAT system five years after its entry into force, identify challenges, gaps and ways forward in OPCAT implementation, mobilize, via the OPCAT, a variety of potential actors on torture prevention, review the role of the SPT to reinforce its impact and review the role of the NPMs to reinforce their impact. The principal organizer of the OPCAT Global Forum is the Association for the Prevention of Torture.

Of course the gains of what we have achieved in terms of the instrument’s progress is still quite modest but the Philippine experience in advancing the OPCAT is turning to be among the most dynamic in Asia-Pacific because of our broad front partnerships in combating and preventing torture, The United Against Torture Coalition, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, our  partner torture survivors, and the strong support from international freedom from torture organizations like the Rehabilitation and Research Center for Torture Victims and the Association for the Prevention of Torture. The Senate’s adhesion to the OPCAT is forthcoming and we are making headway in firming-up our collective draft NPM enabling bill.

Our collective efforts to put this good instrument in place here in the Philippines will be shared this coming Thursday the 10th of November and after other presentations on ratification and implementation campaigns from 3 other countries, an open discussion will take place. For those interested to watch our contributions from the Philippines, please visit http://www.apt.ch and go to the aptforum3 at 9:00pm to 11:30pm, Philippine time.

You may also be interested to watch other thematic discussions and plenary schedules. The entire Global Forum will be covered real time and its program will take place from Thursday 10, November 4:00pm to 11:30pm and Friday 11 November 4:00pm to 12:30mn (Philippine time).

Kindly find attached the OPCAT Global Forum program schedule and channel guide. The slot on the Philippine experience is Session 1: Ratification campaigns and implementation advocacy.

Information, documents and briefing papers on the OPCAT Global Forum can be found at http://www.apt.ch.

Feel free to share this learning opportunity with others involved in torture prevention work and preventive visits to places of deprivation of liberty.

My warmest regards and best wishes to all!

Budit Carlos
Advocacy Officer
Office of the Chairperson
Commission on Human Rights Philippines

[In the news] CHR: Probe fake claimants – INQUIRER.net

CHR: Probe fake claimants.

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Etta Rosales has ordered an investigation into reported cases of fake claimants to the compensation money awarded to human rights victims during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

She also said she would discuss with the claimants’ lawyers the possibility of imposing more stringent identification measures to ensure that checks are only given to real claimants.

The Philippine National Police recently busted a syndicate that reportedly provided fake documents to people who would pose as claimants.

Rosales said the CHR would undertake an independent probe on the matter.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[In the news] CHR to military: Stop air raids in Zambo Sibugay, use intel for MILF rogue elements -InterAksyon.com

CHR to military: Stop air raids in Zambo Sibugay, use intel for MILF rogue elements
by Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has appealed to the military to end air raids in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay as thousands of families were displaced due to the ongoing clashes.

CHR Commissioner Etta Rosales said that at the end of the day, it is the civilians who will suffer the most.

“I hope this will be the first and last time na magbombahan. Kasi kung gusto natin habulin ang rogue elements baka naman hindi kelangan ng bomba (If we want to go after the rogue elements, there might not be a need to bomb),” Rosales said in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday.

Read full article @ interaksyon.com

[Press Release] Political prisoners are victims of state torture – REHAS

Last December 5, 2006, the RPM-P/RPA-ABB has submitted its protest letter to the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee (JEMC) regarding the torture incidents that were experienced by 3 civilians and 4 members of NCR-RPA-ABB relative to Nov. 17, 2006 mis-encounter.

The findings of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) confirmed that in deed Mr. Ramonit Moralidad (civilian, Alab Katipunan organizer), Mr. Rodolfo Tiopis (civilian), Ms. Erika Tiopis (civilian), Ka-Randy Puno (RPA-ABB), Ka-Victor Valdez (RPA-ABB), Ka-Chito Catbagan (RPA-ABB) and Ka-Joebert Dumlao (RPA-ABB) were severely tortured by some members of Mandaluyong police as a means of extracting information vis-à-vis the death of PO3 John-John Justo.

The medical examinations conducted by the Commission on Human Rights show multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerated wounds on the said three RPA-ABB members and four civilians. Randy Puno and Victor Valdez has second degree burns/scalding injuries of the neck and back. A circular wound consistent with a cigarette burn was noted along the right thigh of Erika Tiopis. Randy Puno was admitted at Mandaluyong Public Hospital and treated for secondary infection of his burns. Randy Puno experienced sexual torture in the form of inserting an object inside his penis. Chito Catbagan and Joebert Dumlao experienced physical beating, squeezing their fingers with bullets inserted between them.

The various forms and methods of torture inflicted to persons mentioned above falls under human rights question and of public interest. The on-going peace process between GRP and RPM-P/RPA-ABB uphold the full respect for human rights (Clarificatory Documents, Article I-Principles, #1). The Implementing Guidelines of Cessation of Hostilities also expand to include actions that are violations of people’s basic rights (Article I, #1). The concrete expression that the GRP-RPM-P/RPA-ABB peace accord covers human rights incident is seen in the representation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the JEMC National Technical Working Group on Civil and Political Rights (Rules and Procedures, Article III, letter-D, #2). Therefore, there is no doubt that human rights issues and concerns are integral part of the GRP-RPM-P/RPA-ABB Peace Agreement, and therefore, human rights violations falls under hostile acts (Rules and Procedures, Article II-On definition of Hostilities).

To quote the words of late Sen. Jose Diokno: “Human rights are more than legal concepts, they are the essence of man, deny them, you deny man’s humanity.”

The various forms and methods of torture inflicted by some Mandaluyong PNP elements to RPA-ABB members and three civilians are breach of existing GRP-RPM-P/RPA-ABB peace accord and an infringement of United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Even ordinary offenders and criminals have human rights as provided in our domestic laws, and same true with captured combatants as stipulated in Protocol II of the United Nations Geneva Convention. Furthermore, the JEMC decision on arrested RPA-ABB members states that:

“The action expected of the PNP point person is to make sure that the arrested person shall not be inflicted with physical injuries…” [with reference to the Key Agreements made during10th JEMC Regular meeting, dated 19 Nov. 2004 in Bacolod City]

We sometimes thought that the use of torture perpetrated by the government against its perceived enemies as a means of extracting information was a thing of the pass, a bygone (Marcos period) but realities proved that until this juncture such act continued. Almost all political prisoners have experienced torture from government AFP/PNP forces.

Until this day, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) did not file any administrative or criminal case against the Mandaluyong police who were involved in the torture despite that it was the CHR people who conducted medical investigation and concluded that in deed the prisoners were severely tortured in various methods and forms inside the Mandaluyong Police Station by some PNP officers who were under the command PSupt. Velasquez.

We are therefore calling Pres. Noynoy Aquino, the Chief PNP leadership, DOJ Sec. Leila de Lema and CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales to immediately look into this matter and proper administrative and criminal cases should be filed against perpetrators. Violators of human rights should be tried and prosecuted so that no one will follow their foot steps.



[Press Release] An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines – AHRC

June 29, 2011

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines

Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City

Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Pages: 2

Our Reference No.: AHRC-UAC-005-2010

Dear Ms. Rosales,

PHILIPPINES: Commission on Human Rights (CHR) deprives torture victims remedy by failing to act promptly

Name of the torture victims:
1. BATRINA, Billy
2. ROGELIO, Sonny
3. DINO, Charity
Date of complaint filed: February 1, 2010

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to inquire about the status of your investigation, if there was any, to the complaint of torture that we have submitted to your office by way of an appeal letter on behalf of the three torture victims mentioned above.

On February 1, 2010, we wrote to the former chairperson of the CHR, Ms. Leila De Lima, requesting that she “ensure that the victims’ allegations of torture and the filing of questionable charges on them are thoroughly investigated”. For easy reference, we attached the copy of our letter to Ms. Leila De Lima.

Apart from your office, we have also written to the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Office (MOLEO) asking for their intervention within their authority into this case. Our complaint was recorded at MOLEO under Reference No.: RAS-P-10-0032.

In MOLEO’s letter to us dated August 31, 2010, which we only received on December 21, 2010, they have concluded to “close and terminate” our complaint invoking that:

“…since RA 9745 otherwise known as the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 was invoked by the AHRC, the instant RAS must necessarily be referred to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) where Section 9 of the said law mandates the latter and other executive agencies, to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation on cases of torture.”

However, to our knowledge we are not aware of whether the CHR had indeed commenced an investigation; and if there had been, it fell short of what may be considered a “prompt investigation” as required by section 9 (a) of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, which is: “a prompt investigation shall mean a maximum period of sixty (60) working days from the time a complaint for torture is filed”.

We have not received any communications from your office as to whether an investigation into our complaint was indeed conducted; or, we are also not aware if there was other intervention that your office might have taken on the victims’ complaints.

As you know, the role of MOLEO, in deciding whether or not the alleged perpetrators of the crime of torture have a case to answer in court begins when an investigation is conducted, completed and submitted to their office for their review and approval. Under the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, on matters of investigation to complaints of torture it is the CHR who has the primary obligation.

While we express reservations to MOLEO’s conclusion to “close and terminate” our complaint in the absence of the results of any investigation — be they from your office or from the Philippine National Police (PNP); what deeply concerns us is the fact that there was no investigation conducted at all.

We are deeply concerned that your office is responsible in effectively depriving the possibilities of remedies and redress to these three torture victims due to your failure to act promptly and by failing to comply in conducting a “prompt investigation” as required by the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.

We request your urgent response to this correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Md Ashrafuzzaman
Programme Officer
Urgent Appeals Programme


Danilo Rimonte, graft prevention & control officer, Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO), Quezon City, PHILIPPINES

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines

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[Event] Basta! Run Against Torture! (V) – UATC

Friday,  June 24, 2011

ASSEMBLY: 700 – 730 AM in front of the Department of Interior and Local Government Building (Mapagmahal St. corner EDSA)
Route: EDSA (in front of DILG) – East Ave. – QC Elliptical Road –PhilCOA – Commonwealth – Commission on Human Rights
700 runners from the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC),
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) ,Presidential Human Rights Committee,
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ),
Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

For more information, please contact Mei Orias of Amnesty International Philippines through the following contact numbers: mobile – 09996282066 / landline – 4338100 / email – meiorias@amnesty.org.ph

[From the web] UPDATE (Philippines): Ombudsman claims no obligation to protect complainants, witnesses – AHRC

Dear friends,

Despite our appeal, the Office of the Ombudsman also ceased its intervention into the disappearance of three mining activists who were forcibly abducted. The Ombudsman was asked to use its authority to protect the families of the victims and witnesses, as a requirement in pursuing the prosecution of the soldiers involved, but they claimed they neither have the obligation nor resources to do so.


In June 2010, we issued an appeal on this case (AHRC-UAC-076-2010) to draw attention to the disappearance of three mining activists, namely Ronron Landingin, Jinky Garcia and Daryl Fortuna. They were abducted on 9 March 2010 by five unknown persons armed with pistols from their homes in Barangay (village) Inhobol, Masinloc.

On March 12, 2010, the whereabouts of the disappeared victims became known to the villagers. Persons fitting their descriptions had been seen them in the custody of the 24th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army (PA) with their hands cuffed. On 15 March 2010 the parents of Ronron were able to speak to him via his mobile phone, and he told them that he believed that the soldiers had taken him to Pangasinan, another province.

In our letter to the Ombudsman, being the body investigating violations committed by the members of the security forces, we asked them to use their authority to ensure that the relatives of the victims were given protection, as it is necessary before any criminal prosecution could proceed; and also to protect the witnesses who have personal knowledge –the victims’ whereabouts and who took custody of them.


In this case, Danilo Remonte, graft prevention and control officer of the Office of the Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO), wrote in his Final Report (full text of the report) dated July 7, 2010, that: “the instant Request for Assistance (RAS) be considered CLOSED and TERMINATED”.

As quoted verbatim, Remonte argued in justifying his report that:

“The AHRC is urging this Office to ensure the protection of the families of the victims and their witnesses considering that without such protection, the pursuit of legal action may become untenable…

It is quite unfortunate that this Office neither has the resources nor the logistics to accommodate the above request of the AHRC.

RA 6981, otherwise known as “Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act” and its implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) is under the exclusive administration of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Thus the foregoing request of the AHRC must necessarily be referred to the same.”


The AHRC is well aware that it is the Department of Justice (DoJ) who administers and implements the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act (RA 6981). In our previous reports, we have examined in detail how the law lacks provisions to meet the needs of the witnesses and how the Act is applied in reality.

For further reading: Reforms required to protect witnesses in the Philippines.

In this case however, the protection that we asked the Ombudsman should take action on is not limited to the provision to section 3 of RA 6981, which defines the conditions on who qualifies for “Admission into the Program”.

The families of victims Daryl Fortuna and Jinky Garcia, whom we already mentioned in our correspondence to the Ombudsman to have “expressed willingness to pursue the case but unless protection and security are assured for relatives and witnesses, the case will not progress in the courts”, do not qualify for Admission into the programme.

Therefore, it was pointless for the Ombudsman that the “request of the AHRC must necessarily be referred to the same” since they are not qualified anyway. While the DoJ could not accommodate protection, contrary to the Ombudsman’s claims that protection to the families was the “exclusive administration” of the DoJ, the Ombudsman has the legal obligation to protect the witnesses.

Under the Ombudsman Act of 1989, section 32, on Rights and Duties of Witness, the Ombudsman could “furnish him such security for his person and his family as may be warranted by the circumstances. For this purpose, the Ombudsman may, at its expense, call upon any police or constabulary unit to provide the said security”

Therefore, there should have been no question as to whether or not the Ombudsman has the jurisdiction or could use its resources for this purpose; or, that only the DoJ has the legal obligation to do so. The protection of witnesses is not the exclusive jurisdiction of the DoJ; and the Ombudsman has the legal obligation to protect complainants and the families of victims who are fearful for their lives but do not qualify under the RA 6981.

The Ombudsman, as required by section 26 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989, has the legal obligation to protect the interest of the complainants, purposely to: “Inquiries: 3(c) correct the omission; and (e) take any other steps as may be necessary under the circumstances to protect and preserve the rights of the complainant”.

Also, apart from protecting the families of the disappeared and the witnesses, the Ombudsman should have also taken action into the complaint of the AHRC about the failure of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to make public the results of their investigation. When the investigation was conducted on this case, there was no information as to whether or not the soldiers involved have been imposed with sanctions.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)
AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines

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[Urgent Appeal] PHILIPPINES: Concern over Ombudsman’s “closure and termination” of cases – AHRC


Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is from today publishing a series of Investigation Reports made by the Office of the Ombudsman on cases they have ruled as “closed and terminated” during the last five years. The AHRC is deeply concerned that the Ombudsman is arbitrarily using its power under the Ombudsman Act of 1989 to dismiss complaints on questionable grounds.


First issued in June 2010, this case (AHRC-UAC-074-2010 ) is about the illegal arrest, detention and torture of five members of an indigenous tribe in December 2009 in Dingalan, Aurora province. We wrote to the Office of the Ombudsman asking for them to intervene due to the “lack of transparency and the delay in the filing of any charges (by the Commission on Human Rights) against the soldiers in court”.

In response, Danilo Remonte, graft prevention and control officer of the Office of the Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO), wrote in his Final Report dated July 6, 2010 (full text of the report), recommending “that the same be considered CLOSED and TERMINATED in so far as this Office is concerned”, after having referred it to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The excerpt of his report is quoted verbatim below:

“Regrettably, this Office cannot accommodate the above request, considering that the law (as invoked by the AHRC), R.A. 9745 has clearly defined the responsibility of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) relative to the filing of the charges against its violators.

Section 11 of the aforesaid law provides that the tasks of providing legal assistance, investigation, monitoring and/or filing complaint for victims of torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment are clearly, unequivocably(sic) and unambiguously vested upon the CHR and the PAO. Thus, the previous explanation by this Office are hereby reiterated, to wit:

“The AHRC is hereby advised that while this Office has primary jurisdiction over acts of malfeasance, misfeance or non-feasance committed by public officials/employees (as mandated by the Constitution and R.A. 6770 otherwise known as the “Ombudsman Act of 1989), the CHR is granted the primary jurisdiction over human rights violations involving civil and political rights as mandated by the Constitution and E.O. No. 163, prescribing its powers and functions.”


The AHRC knows full well that the CHR and the Public Attorney’s Office has the jurisdiction to commence an investigation into complaint of torture under the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 (R.A. 9745); however, the CHR’s Investigation Report in this case is itself questionable.

In a statement (AHRC-STM-231-2010), the AHRC examined in detail the CHR’s Investigation Report questioning the merit and credibility of the report. As explained well in this case analysis, the victims have not obtained “adequate remedy “. It is the CHR, who has the power and authority to investigate this case and it is their failure to do so adequately which effectively deprived the victims the possibility of remedy.

Sections 20 (1 & 2) and 23 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 sets legal requirements as to when a formal complaint can be dismissed by them justifiably. A complaint can only be dismissed, amongst others, when a complainant is able to obtain “adequate remedy in another judicial or quasi-judicial body” or the “matter (complaint is) outside the jurisdiction” of the Ombudsman.

Thus, unless the irregularities and questions as to the merit of the CHR’s Investigation Report are resolved, the principle of “adequate remedy in another judicial or quasi-judicial body”, as amongst the legal justifications for the Ombudsman to invoke in dismissing the complaint, could not apply in this case.


Since 2005, the AHRC has been submitting a formal complaint, by way of letters of appeals, to MOLEO requesting them either to investigate or to intervene in cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearance, involving members of the security forces.

However, most of the complaints that the AHRC submitted to the Ombudsman have been “closed and terminated” but no clear and sufficient explanations, as required by sections 20 (1 & 2) & 23 of the Ombudsman Act, have been given. The AHRC argues that these cases should have not been “closed and terminated” because the condition in the Act has not been met.


MOLEO has the power and authority to decide whether or not any members of the security forces–police and the military–could be prosecuted in court for criminal and administrative charges. No members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who are accused of crimes under the Penal Code can be prosecuted in courts without their approval.

The role of the Ombudsman investigators is very crucial at the early stage of investigation process on cases involving security forces. The decision by the National Prosecution Service (NPS), the prosecution arm of the Department of Justice (DoJ), in determining the “probable cause” whether the accused has the case to answer in court, is subject to the review and approval of the Ombudsman.

For more details about the role and functions of the Ombudsman, visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page of their official website.

It is for this reason that the AHRC submits complaints, by way of urgent appeals, to the Ombudsman. However, for the last five years or so, most of the complaints that the AHRC have submitted have been “closed and terminated”.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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Urgent Appeal General: AHRC-UAG-003-2011
8 June 2011

ISSUES: Torture; inhuman treatment; torture victims; indigenous groups; administration of justice