Tag Archives: Politics of the Philippines

[Press Release] Anti-Epal Intensifies Campaign Through Change Family Political Dynasty -No More Epal Movement

Anti-Epal Intensifies Campaign Through Change Family Political Dynasty

Vote for Change

dakilaAimed at educating the public on the problems of Philippine politics, the Anti-Epal campaign created a fictional political dynasty led by Rep. Juana Change and the Epaliticians Party List, hailing from the province of Nueva Change Occidental Sur. The Change Family believes in “political destiny, not dynasty.”

“Mula pa noong panahon ng himagsikan laban sa mga Kastila, hanggang sa paglaban sa mga Hapon, sa pagtutol sa Batas Militar at hanggang sa paglaban kay Little Lady, tatak CHANGE ang kilala. Ito ang legacy ng CHANGE. Gusto nyo ba ng reporma? Eh di CHANGE nalang tayo ulit!,” Rep. Juana Change said.

Sigaw daw ng iba, ‘Wala na bang iba?’ Wala syempre! ‘Yan ang demokrasyang tatak Pinoy!,” Rep. Juana Change added.

Other members of the Change Family includes Don Juan Change III, Juan Change IV, Yoko Change, Pansy ‘Bida’ Change, Tita Sen Change, Datung Change, Lola Change, and Lolo Change.

“Epalism is only a symptom of deeper problems in Philippine politics, which each character in the Change Family personifies. The characters reflect real politicians and their campaigns and the public has seen these parallelisms. The Change Family is an exaggeration of what is happening in Philippine politics, so a lot of times people are entertained. But more than entertainment, we want them to see that these are real problems we are facing as a nation,” Ayeen Karunungan, spokesperson of Dakila, an organization part of the No More Epal Movement, said.

The Change Family filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) last October 1, the first day of filing of COC’s at the Commission on Elections. The campaign is a new phase of the Anti-Epal campaign and is organized by the No More Epal Movement, composed of Dakila, People Power Institute, Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking and individuals such as Vince Lazatin, Executive Director of Transparency and Accountability Network, Mae Paner, Betty Romero, Gabriel Mercado, and Atty. Eirene Aguila

For more information, contact Ayeen Karunungan at 09175057055 or visit The Change Family Facebook page at http://facebook.com/TheChangeFamily
The CHANGE Family
“The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same”
Nueva Change Occidental Sur (NCOS)
Check Wikipedia of NCOS

The province of Nueva Change Occidental Sur was split into two congressional districts to accommodate the political ambitions of the son of Don Juan Change III and Juana Change, Don Juan Change IV. Although not qualified as a stand-alone congressional district, District 2 of Nueva Change Occidental Sur (with a voting population of only 75,000) was created by a law that was sponsored by Don Juan Change III, and co-sponsored by Juana Change. The creation of District 2 survived a legal challenge when the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Tirso Change ruled that the creation of congressional districts is the sole prerogative of the legislature, and who best to determine the need for new districts, but the congressmen themselves. CJ Tirso Change, the first cousin of Don Juan Change III, was two-time governor of Nueva Change Occidental Sur before being named as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
CONGRESSWOMAN, Epaliticians Party List (“EPaL”)

See Juana Change on Facebook

Juana used to be the district congresswoman of Nueva Change Occidental Sur but when her 3rd term ended, she created the EPaL party list group so she could continue to serve in the House of Representatives. EPaL represents the maligned and marginalized epaliticians who have been at the center of the anti-epal movement sweeping the country. She vows to author legislation that would legalize the practice of credit-grabbing by public officials. “How else will the voters know of our benevolence?” she once remarked.

She served her 3 terms after her husband, Don Juan Change III finished 3 terms as well. Believes that there are good political dynasties and that theirs is destiny, not dynasty. Juana Change resents being told to remove her wang-wang from her SUVs because she has much important work to do and spends congressional recess in Paris, New York, Zurich, among other cities.
CONGRESSMAN, 1st District of Nueva Change Occidental Sur

Don Juan Change on FB
Don Juan Change, also known as DJ, is now the family patriarch. He is CEO of the CHANGE business conglomerate which interests span from mining, logging, manufacturing, lands, construction, manpower agencies and agriculture.

He is the husband of Juana Change and is running for Congressman of the 1st District, Nueva Change Occidental Sur. Don Juan wants to continue the legacy of his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather. Don Juan III believes that only the Change family knows what’s best for the province of Nueva Change Occidental Sur.

He sponsored the bill to carve out a new congressional district from NCOS, the newly formed Second District of Nueva Change Occidental, for his son, Don Juan IV.
CONGRESSMAN, newly formed 2nd District of Nueva Change Occidental Sur

Be a fan of JC IV in FB

Popularly known as JC IV, he is the son of Juana and Don Juan III. He has learned the business of politics from his father. He has mastered the art of patronage politics. Not a spot of free space in Nueva Change Occidental Sur is safe from his numerous tarps, signs, announcements claiming credit for everything from vaccination programs, libreng tuli/libing/cell load/etc., footbridges, and road asphalting to the cool January weather and the soon to be proclaimed 8th wonder of the world, the NCOS buwaya, which has a voracious appetite and breeds only with relatives; it has a bullet proof, thick skin that is impenetrable to any kind of criticism.

JCIV is often seen passing out school bags (with his name and face embroidered on it) to schoolchildren, who many times, have to wait hours on end for the congressman to arrive, usually 3 or 4 hours late. He can also be seen performing circumcisions for his Libreng Tuli program, even if he isn’t a licensed medical practitioner. His PR people make sure that all his activities are photographed and printed in the Nueva Change Occidental Sur organ, the Change Times.

JC is a part time model and commercial endorser. He is a sports enthusiast and a gym buff. He is often seen with his celebrity friends either partying or attending to social charities. His rumored girlfriend is actress Fart Evangelista. JC is often called the “Nueva Gwapo” as he is the most handsome guy in NCOS.
GOVERNOR, Nueva Change Occidental Sur

Yoko for Change FB

Yoko is the daughter of Juana and Don Juan III. She is running for her first term as governor of NCOS. She was going to run as Board Member of the Province but was pulled in last minute for the gubernatorial race to replace Lolong Change, when her niece, Munting Change (daughter of Pansy Bida Change) wisely asked, “Paano tatakbo si Lolong? Eh, patay na siya!”

Yoko is said to be the apple of Don Juan’s eyes. She was trained to be a leader since birth. The Change Family enrolled her in the finest schools and even sent her abroad at age 5 to undergo leadership camps with children of politicians. She served as SK Chairperson for 6 years, Student Council President from Prep to 4th year College, and won several leadership awards most notably the Youth Outstanding Winner of the Nation (YOWN) and the Women on Top Award.

Yoko is a youth role model. She has started several social entrepreneurship projects that help the youth of NCOS under her youth movement Yoko for Change (YFC). Yoko is also a social media sensation having many twitter followers. She contributes to a lot of publications as an expert on youth affairs and hosts a cool youth oriented show – YOK On Radio.
MAYOR, San Buwaya City, Capital of Nueva Change Occidental Sur

Datung FB Page

Datung Change is the nephew of Juana and Don Juan III. He is the only child of celebrity turned politician, Tita Sen Change.

Dado Forunato, also known as “Datung”, is the perennial mayor of San Buwaya City and has been mayor for eight terms, broken only by his placeholder grandfather, Juan Jr. “Lolong”, who ran the city from his urn (he’s been dead since 1986). Mayor Datung also is the campaign manager for the Change family.

He is also responsible for raising money for everyone’s campaigns. He is rumored to be the local jueteng lord and has a private army. Allegedly, his business interests in San Buwaya City include smuggling, drug trafficking, gunrunning and money laundering.

Despite his tough stance, the masses of San Buwaya are affectionate of Datung as his “the end justifies the means” motto brings peace to San Buwaya.


Follow Tita Sen

Tita Sen is the sister of Don Juan III. She is an iconic movie star. She is well known as a comedienne and a TV personality. She tried to shun politics but after an overwhelming clamor from her family, the Change family, she gave in and parlayed her popularity as a TV personality and comedienne into a successful sentorial bid. She is in her second term.

However, from time to time, Tita Sen finds it hard to refuse her showbiz life so she still dabbles in acting, hosting and commercial endorsements. Her Hot Pink movement – the name she calls her Fans Club, is with her everywhere she goes – from Charity projects to awards night. Tita Sen also has a penchant for social media like twitter and instagram, which leaves her vulnerable to criticism and malicious attacks. This is why one of her strongest advocacy is internet censorship.

She continues her work on TV and was recently accused of plagiarizing one of her episodes of “The Tita Sen Hour” from a Korean sitcom. In her defense, she said, “Eh, paano sasabihin plagiarism yan? Ang show ko ay Tagalog, yung isa ay Koreano. Copying is the sincerest form of flattery. Chos!”.

Pansy on FB

Pansy is the eldest daughter of Juan III and Juana. Pansy “Bida” has stayed away from politics, content to be the personal assistant to her mother, Juana; and a secretary to her father Don Juan. A college graduate, Pansy is the quietest among the Change siblings. With the busy life her siblings live, Pansy attends to all their needs – taking care of the clothes of brother JC and seeing to it that Yoko’s hair and make up are done well.

At the last minute she was asked to file her certificate of candidacy as Vice Governor of NCOS, when Lola Change decided to run against Yoko for the governorship.

Pansy, criticized for her inexperience in public service – well for her lack of experience of in anything, shot back to her critics saying, “Who needs experience when you have the family name, ‘Change’? My experience as being my mom’s alalay had prepared me well for the role as Vice Governor.”

Lola & Lolong Forever FB
Lola Change is the surviving spouse of Lolo Change. Lola Change was all set to run as Vice Governor and running-mate to her late husband, Juan Jr. When the decision was made to field Yoko Change for the governorship instead of her husband, Lola decided to run against her, in the memory of her deceased husband, who is also her running-mate.

Lola Change hails from one of the elite haciendero family of NCOS. She speaks fluent Spanish, Latin, French and Italian. A devout religious, she is member of the exclusive “Order of Morals”. At the same time, she runs the vast family hacienda, which employs thousands of farm workers and manages the 10 ancestral houses of the family with the help of her 200 domestic workers which includes her loyal servants.


Don Juan is the Change Family Patriarch who died in 1986. Although dead for 27 years, has been filing his certificate of candidacy for every election since he died. Lolong filed his first certificate of candidacy at 14 with a fake birth certificate indicating he was 18 years old. He died in 1986 after the People Power Revolution from a heart attack while in captivity.

Lolong, known for ruthlessly ordering the assassinations of his political opponents, was captured swimming inside the carcass of a crocodile in the Nueva Change Occidental Sur river trying to escape capture from law enforcement officials. The crocodile carcass was certified by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest crocodile carcass used for escape. He was wanted in connection to several killings of prominent political oppositionists. His remains are incarcerated at the NCOS Maximum Security Prison, serving out seven consecutive life terms, reclusion perpetua, for the murders. From his urn in jail, Lolong is often used by his family members as a placeholder so they can run again after 3 consecutive terms.

Lolong was supposed to run as governor, but the decision was made by the family to bypass Lolong and field Yoko instead. This decision was made when the 5 year old granddaughter of Don Juan III and Juana, Munting Change (daughter of Juan IV) pointed out, “Paano tatakbo si Lolong? Eh, patay na siya!” After 20 minutes of stunned silence, Juana and Don Juan III decided that Yoko should run instead.

His campaign slogan is “Patay na patay makapagsilbi!”

No More Epal Movement
9 May 2012

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[Press Release] Workers face more malicious charges under Aquino-CTUHR

Workers face more malicious charges under Aquino-CTUHR

CTUHR logoMalicious filing of criminal cases (criminalization) against workers and unionists intensified under Aquino according to labor NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights from an average of 7 cases per year between 2004-2009 to an average of 12 cases per year between 2010 to 2011.

CTUHR documentation also showed that the number of individuals victimized by these malicious or trumped up criminal charges more than doubled in the same period—from an average of 42 individuals charged per year between 2004-2009 to an average of 90 individuals every year between 2010-2012.

The group noted two forms of criminalization against workers and unionists: one is when workers are charged by capitalists with criminal offenses whenever the worker/s filed complaints against the former’s non-compliance with legal standards or when the union is in conflict with the management; the other type of criminalization is perpetrated by state agents reportedly by the military wherein union leaders of militant labor centers are maliciously linked to operations of armed groups particularly the New People’s Army.

Arman Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation expressed alarm over this heightening spate of criminalization and said that it undermines workers right to unionize and jeopardizes the very few mechanisms where workers can seek redress when in conflict with their employers.

The group also pointed to the state’s counter insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, as culprit to most of these “legal offensives” and violations of workers’ freedom to unionize. “Like the previous administration, the Aquino administration and the military continue to malign legitimate people’s organizations and unions by linking them with the NPAs. And same with, if not worse than, past counterinsurgency programs, Oplan Bayanihan has resulted to volumes of human rights violations including these harassments through filing of trumped up cases, extrajudicial killings and others,” Hernando added.

Late last year, leaders of militant unions, Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara of Kilusang Mayo Uno and Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) were charged with murder linked to two separate NPA operations in Ifugao and Daet, Camarines Norte. Vegas and Camposano were first abducted reportedly by military agents on December 3, 2012 and this was followed by malicious filing of criminal charges.

The group challenged the Aquino government to comply with the ILO recommendations to uphold workers’ freedom of association and drop criminal charges against workers exercising their right to unionize and strike. In 2010, the International Labor Organization (ILO) released its recommendations to the Philippine Government following the ILO High Level Mission that investigated the spate of human rights violations against unions and workers.

For reference: Arman Hernando, CTUHR Coordinator for Documentation. +632.411.0256, +63923.819.3737


27 February 2012

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[In the news] Peace Forum kicks off Mindanao Week of Peace 2012 -MindaNews.com

Peace Forum kicks off Mindanao Week of Peace 2012
By Frencie Carreon
November 26 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/25 November)– A multi-sectoral peace forum on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), dubbed as the “roadmap to peace” in Mindanao, was held here Saturday to kick off this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace, which is set on November 29 to December 5.

Leading the discussion for the Mindanao Peace Forum was lawyer Johaira Wahab, a legal adviser to the peace panel of the Government of the Philippines. She represented government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen, who was recently appointed as Supreme Court Associate Justice.

With the full endorsement of the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC), this year’s celebration carries the theme ‘Love of God and Love of Neighbor, A Challenge for Mindanao.”

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

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[People] Peace and the peace process This is just a pit-stop; the race is not yet won by Dr. Renato Mabunga

Renato Mabunga. Photo from CMA-Phils.

Peace and the peace process
This is just a pit-stop; the race is not yet won
by Dr. Renato Mabunga

Renato Mabunga. Photo from CMA-Phils.

Renato Mabunga. File photo from CMA-Phils.

The landmark signing of an initial peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has reinvigorated hopes of a peaceful resolution of the decades-long conflict in Mindanao.

The framework peace deal lays the foundations for a “just peace” that should be guided by human values and international standards of good governance, human rights and the dignity of peoples and communities.

The peace deal is supposed to aim at the full development of a nation, nay of a community, guaranteed by the supreme sovereignty of the people.

What can be observed in the “framework agreement” signed by government and rebel peace negotiators this month is the truthful reference to the pains and aspirations of the people of Mindanao and its adjacent islands.

Unfortunately, only well-intentioned individuals, the wounded and those who empathize with the people of Mindanao can fully appreciate, without equivocation, the agreement. It comes out devoid of pretension and political subtlety.

People in Mindanao (and even outsiders), however, should understand that peace is not a political compromise between conflicting parties. Political compromises connote the satisfaction of vested interests of opposing camps.

Read full article @ www.ucanews.com

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[Press Release] Davao Citizens’ Signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement -IID

Davao Citizens’ Signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement

Davao City – In time for the signing of the Framework Agreement by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at the Malacañan Palace, Davao-based Peace networks and various groups conduct their own Citizens’ Signing of the Framework Agreement to welcome and support the historic Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The Citizens’ Signing of the Framework Agreement is the highlight of the “Davao, Duyog sa Kalinaw!”

activity to be held at the Freedom Park, Roxas Avenue, Davao City on 15 October 2012.

The convenors celebrate this milestone in the 15-year-old GPH-MILF peace negotiations not as the end of the process but rather, the beginning of more challenges ahead. The Framework Agreement sets out the mutually agreed upon principles to guide both Peace Panels and put things in perspective as both thresh out the details in the substantive agenda of the talks.

The symbolic Citizens’ signing of the framework agreement is a clear message on Citizen Participation in the peace process. The convenors believe that a sustained engagement on matters of peace and right to self-determination will generate a groundswell of informed public support to the peace talks– even for those outside the zones of conflict.

At the same time, the group commits to remaining active and vigilant especially in monitoring the succeeding interim agreements and actual implementation of what comes next. Such mechanisms guaranteeing transparency and participation of all sectors especially covered in the core Bangsamoro territory should be soon installed. Monitoring the peace process and continuing education at the community level are among the tasks civil society organizations commit themselves to doing, in building the constituency supporting the peace process.

Activity organizers: Mindanao Peace Weavers (MPW), Mindanao Coalition of Development NGOs (MINCODE), United Youth for Peace and Development- Davao Region Chapter (UNYPAD), Agong Peace Network, Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM), Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Generation Peace Youth Network- Davao chapter (GENPEACE) and Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka- Mindanao (PAKISAMA). #

IID is the Secretariat of Mindanao Peace Weavers

IID is an advocacy and solidarity institution promoting peace, conflict prevention, democratization and right to self-determination in Southeast Asia. Our focus areas include Mindanao, Burma, Timor-Leste, South Thailand, Aceh and West Papua.

Press Release
15 October 2012

Contact persons:

Lyndee Prieto, Email: lyndeeprieto@yahoo.com; Mobile: 0917-724-7579
Rich de los Santos, Email: rich.delossantos84@gmail.com; Mobile: 0927.644.6524

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[In the news] WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Helping children heal -MindaNews

MindaNews » WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Helping children heal.

By Gail Ilagan
August 5, 2012

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 Aug) – Mid-year 2012, Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chair Marvic Leonen optimistically reported that after the 18 October 2011 incident in Al-Barka, Basilan, there had been no more armed skirmishes between government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). However, he also reported that there continued to be armed skirmishes in Mindanao between security forces and lawless elements.

In many pockets of Mindanao, law enforcement often involves military support in cases when the suspects are known to be armed and dangerous and have sought shelter in heavily fortified hideouts. In fact, the Al-Barka incident had been a joint law enforcement operation intended to serve warrants of arrest on suspected criminals.

The towns of Payao and Alicia lie on the southeastern tip of the crescent that encloses Dumanquilas Bay in Zamboanga Sibugay. From the paved highway in Imelda, the idyllic coastal center of Payao lies past 36 kilometers of rough mountain road passable in many places only on board the hardy habal-habal that serves as the only means of public land transport plying that route. While uncomfortable in places, the dirt road to Alicia, on the other hand, can be negotiated by any form of motorized vehicles.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

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[Statement] Media Statement on Sulu Governor Abdulsakur Tan -Free Cocoy Tulawie Movement

Media Statement on Sulu Governor Abdulsakur Tan
Free Cocoy Tulawie Movement
9 June 2012

The undersigned peace advocates and human rights defenders are gravely concerned about recent reports on the announcement of Sulu Governor Abdulsakur Tan, a known warlord and human rights violator, of his plan to run as next Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor, while his son will take on his position as next Governor of Sulu. The current reform efforts in the ARMM will surely be put to waste if we turn this over to another “Ampatuan-like” politician.

We therefore condemn his plan to run as ARMM governor.

Also, while we applaud the move of the Philippine government to include the ARMM governors as observers in the recent GPH-MILF peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we take exception, however, to their move in bringing Abdulsakur Tan to the peace talks. His presence is anathema to the desired changes that we envision for the Bangsamoro people. He is the classic example of the status quo that is already unacceptable. Thus, parading him to Malaysia is a big insult to the international community who are supporting the peace talks.

We therefore question his sincerity and moral standing to sit as an observer to the peace talks when he is very cause of the state of unpeace in Sulu.

In Sulu, militarization, proliferation of private armies, warrantless arrests, deprivation of civil liberties, massacres of innocent civilians, gang rapes, and sexual violence became widespread under Sakur Tan’s administration. He implemented the ID card system in the guise of helping military authorities combat terrorism but which was heavily protested for being discriminatory to culture and religion, especially among Muslims. In blatant violation of the constitution, he illegally declared a State of Emergency in Sulu, which resulted in the arrests of several innocent civilians.

We appeal to President Noynoy Aquino never to reinvent another Ampatuan in the ARMM. He promised the Filipino people to dismantle private armies. If the President is indeed serious about this, he should immediately disarm Sakur Tan’s thousands of private armies in Sulu. Concretely, he must immediately revoke EO 546 that allows Local Chief Executives to arm civilians.

We also call upon Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Preace Process (OPAPP) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to support the reform efforts in the ARMM and stop patronizing Sakur Tan. They should unmask and expose Sakur Tan rather than paint him as a sheep, when he is clearly the remnants of warlordism that up to now terrorizes people in Sulu. A wolf hiding in a sheepskin is still a wolf.

Instead of patronizing a warlord as a peacemaker, we recommend the following:

1. Declare an audit on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and all
government funds released to the Provincial government of Sulu
2. Conduct a Congressional inquiry on the Human Rights situation in Sulu
3. For the Ombudsman to investigate the Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of Sakur Tan

Visit: https://www.facebook.com/freecocoy.tulawie

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[Press Release] Recommendations by UN will make real difference to Philippine victims of torture, IRCT says

Recommendations by UN will make real difference to Philippine victims of torture, IRCT says


Torture in the Philippines was among the primary focuses of the United Nations Human Rights Council during the country’s Universal Periodic Review yesterday.

More than 15 states focused on torture in their recommendations to improve human rights in the Philippines. These recommendations include:

that the Government of the Philippines effectively implements the 2009 Anti-Torture Act, with a particular focus on ensuring that all investigations and prosecutions of allegations of torture and ill-treatment fully cover the possibility of command responsibility as stipulated in section 13 of the Act; and that all alleged victims of torture and ill-treatment have effective access to a medical evaluation of their injuries by institutionalising the use of the Istanbul Protocol, including by providing guidelines to judges, prosecutors, forensic doctors and medical personnel dealing with detained persons, to detect and document physical and psychological trauma of torture;

that the Government of the Philippines effectively implement the anti torture act with a special focus on responsibility of superior officers, access to a medical examination and the establishment of a sufficiently resourced rehabilitation programme for torture victims.
One of the main objectives of the second cycle of the UPR is to follow up to recommendations from the first UPR cycle; another objective is to ensure that recommendations are increasingly concrete and focused to promote implementation and facilitate monitoring and evaluation of these efforts.

The IRCT would like to commend the governments of Denmark and Ireland for making clear, concrete and focused recommendations that are highly pertinent to the specific domestic context of the Philippines, and which, if accepted and implemented, will make a real difference for access to justice and rehabilitation for torture victims in the Philippines.

The IRCT also welcomes the constructive approach taken by the Government of the Philippines to the UPR as clearly shown in its initiative to establish a multi-stakeholder mechanism to monitor implementation of UPR recommendations. The IRCT encourages the Government of the Philippines to accept all recommendations pertaining to torture and ill-treatment without delay so that the important national implementation work can commence immediately.

The Universal Periodic Review, or UPR, is a new mechanism of the United Nations to review the human rights record of all 192 member countries every four years. The Human Rights Council conducts these reviews, which result in recommendations to the state under review of ways in which they shall improve the country’s human rights situation.

For more information:
Read the IRCT’s UPR guide, available for download here as a PDF.

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[Press Release] South African Extraordinary Professor and UN official to visit PH for the International Week of the Disappeared -AFAD

South African Extraordinary Professor and UN official to visit PH for the International Week of the Disappeared

Mr. Jeremy Sarkin, Extraordinary Professor of the University of South Africa, former Chairperson-Rapporteur and incumbent member of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) will visit the country in his personal capacity as a UN expert on May 29, 2012. He will join the families of the disappeared and other human rights groups in the commemoration of the International Week of the Disappeared.

“The families of the victims of enforced disappearance around the world annually observe on the last week of May the International Week of the Disappeared following the Latin American tradition to pay tribute to all desaparecidos,” Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso said.

Bacalso is the Secretary General of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), a regional human rights organization of families of the disappeared and human rights advocates working directly on the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in the Asian region.

“We have invited Mr. Sarkin to help us convince the Philippine government to immediately sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to enact the anti-enforced disappearance law without further delay. It is done on the occasion of the International Week of the Disappeared and when the Philippines will be subjected to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.”

The UPR is a special UN mechanism conducted every four years by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which is composed of 47 UN Member-States to scrutinize the human rights records of UN Member-States and propose for recommendations. The Philippines went through the UPR in 2008 and is scheduled for a second cycle in Geneva on May 29, 2012.

“Disappointingly, until now, the Philippines is not yet a signatory much less a State-Party to the Convention despite having cited its signing and ratification as one of its voluntary pledges in the UN Human Rights Council when it ran for membership in 2007, ” she stated.

Bacalso also pointed out that the relatives of the disappeared in the Philippines have been lobbying the Philippine Congress for almost two decades to pass a law defining and penalizing enforced disappearance. The Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives last year approved on third and final reading their own versions of the proposed law. It now awaits the bicameral committee meeting for its consolidation and submission to the President for signing.

“It is about time for the President to make a strong statement on human rights by pursuing the rights violators so that victims can get justice. The anti-disappearance treaty and the anti-enforced disappearance bill are two legal measures which, if acted upon by the government, would serve as concrete steps towards ensuring state accountability and ending impunity for human rights violations,” she said.

Mr. Sarkin will be attending different activities during his visit. The visit of any UN officer in the country is deemed official when invited by governments. The UNWGEID has an outstanding request for an official invitation from the Philippine government. During his visit, Mr. Sarkin will meet with relatives of the victims in the Consultative Dialogue with selected legislators on May 31, 9 a.m. – 12 noon at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City. He will then speak before the members of diplomatic corps, government representatives and non-government organizations in the National Human Rights Forum on June 1, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati.

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance have requested for an appointment with President Aquino, but to date, Malacanang has not granted it.

“Giving us an audience is a sign of political will of the Philippine Government to end enforced disappearance and to end impunity in the country, ” Bacalso concluded.

Contact Person:

Darwin Mendiola
Landline: 454.6759/490.7862
Mobile: 0915.4689306
Email: afad@surfshop.net.ph

Press Release
International Week of the Disappeared (IWD)

29 May – 02 June 2012

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[In the news] Deles urges greater public participation in Mindanao peace process -MindaNews

MindaNews » Deles urges greater public participation in Mindanao peace process.

By Bong S. Sarmiento
May 5, 2012

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/04 May) — The government wants greater public participation in the Mindanao peace process, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said.

Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles . OPAPP PhotoDeles appealed Thursday to the public to study the issues surrounding the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to be able to contribute to the crafting of a final peace agreement.

“Read and study. You will see how broad and deep the GPH-MILF peace process is. You will understand how much there is that needs to be discussed on the peace table. Ask if there are things that need to be further explained and help in crafting an agreement that is acceptable to the majority,” she said in a statement.

Deles stressed the value of citizen participation in the peace process, saying that ordinary citizens should take part in supporting and guarding the peace talks.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.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.

[From the web] The Philippines to Pioneer Rehabilitation Program for Perpetrators of Torture -All Voices

The Philippines to Pioneer Rehabilitation Program for Perpetrators of Torture

BY ben696molino, All Voices
March 20, 2012

The Philippine government with the support of the national NGOs led by the Balay Rehabilitation Center and the Medical Action Group both involved in the rehabilitation work for victims of human rights violations particularly torture since the 80s will pioneer a rehabilitation program for perpetrators of torture. This program will be implemented simultaneously with the rehabilitation program for victims of torture.

In a forum today in Quezon City, Philippines attended by rehabilitation experts from the Denmark based Center for Rehabilitation of Torture led by Dr. Peter Polatin, representatives of government agencies, non-government organizations and victims of torture, the various modalities of rehabilitation, process of rehabilitation, pitfalls and problems in rehabilitation, and the issue of justice for the victims were discussed.


[In the news] SMI relocation plan still in the works -MindaNews

MindaNews » SMI relocation plan still in the works.
By Bong S. Sarmiento
March 20, 2012

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/19 March) – Foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. has yet to firm up its relocation plan to those that will be dislodged by its Tampakan copper-gold project, a project partner admitted on Monday.

“The current work program at Tampakan continues to focus… on reaching agreement with the community and [national and local] governments on a range of social impacts, including the need to undertake a substantial resettlement program,” the 2011 annual directors’ report of Indophil Resources NL showed.

Indophil owns a 37.5% stake at Sagittarius Mines, which is controlled by Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer.

The Tampakan project has suffered a setback after the Philippine government rejected last January Sagittarius Mines’ application for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), without prejudice to reapplication.

It cited as reason the unresolved open-pit mining ban imposed by South Cotabato, where the Tampakan project is located.

Sagittarius Mines had filed a motion for reconsideration of the national government’s decision last January 27.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

[Event] Forum: SOVEREIGNTY UNDER ATTACK US Troops Never Really Bid Goodbye -PCPR

Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response (PCPR)

invites you to a forum:

US Troops Never Really Bid Goodbye

February 23, 2012 Thursday 2-5pm
Arnold Janssen Hall, Christ the King Seminary

Speaker: Mr. Arnold Padilla
Former Senior Researcher
IBON Foundation

[In the news] Malacanang to Pinoys in Syria: Let us take you home- InterAksyon.com

Malacanang to Pinoys in Syria: Let us take you home
Philippine News Agency and Eric Apolonio, InterAksyon.com
January 2, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines – Malacanang has reiterated its appeal to over 4,000 Filipinos who are still in Syria to heed the government’s call for mandatory repatriation in the wake of escalating violence in the Arab country.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Monday issued the appeal amid reports that many Filipinos are still refusing to leave Syria.

The Philippine Embassy in Damascus reported that the capital remains on high alert following the back-to-back car bombings there on December 23.

“We would like to ask the Filipinos in Syria – whether they are documented or undocumented – to heed the appeal of the Philippine government. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario is there right now and we would like to ask them to cooperate for their own safety. We want to make sure that all Filipinos be accounted for,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said Secretary Del Rosario flew to Syria to lead DFA officials to convince the Filipinos to have themselves repatriated to Manila at government’s expense.

Read full article @ interaksyon.com

[Press Release] Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) Statement on the NPA Attacks in Taganito Mining Project

Alyansa Tigil Mina expresses its deep regrets and anguish to the resulting social disorder brought about by the NPA attacks to the Taganito Mining Project in Claver, Surigao del Norte.  Beside the destruction of equipment and damaged structures, our alliance is disturbed that the communities in and around the mining site are the biggest losers in these unfortunate events.

ATM believes that challenging the Philippine government’s policy on revitalizing the mining industry as a misplaced priority, is a sound position. Our advocacy is based on the analysis that the political, environmental and social costs of large-scale mining far outweigh the economic benefits it claims.

We believe that active non-violence is one of the most effective way of pushing our messages, and we will continue our work using non-violent strategies. The lives and livelihoods of rural poor communities, especially indigenous peoples, remain to be the central element in our advocacy.  Mining operations in the area formed the driving force resulting to severe environmental damage.  The attack of the rebels was a response, for which they and only themselves will decide. Indigenous peoples in the surrounding areas were neither participants to the environmental genocide nor punitive NPA attacks.  In both cases, the IPs bear the brunt of the impacts.

This incident reveals several flaws on the way the government is pursuing its mislaid policy on mining,   as its reactions to the people’s struggles against mining is unconvincing.  The initial responses from both the government and the mining industry are both over-reactive and ridiculous, bordering on disrespect.

Both are mistakes.

The event is a wake-up call to the Aquino government and the Philippine mining industry.

We caution the government in its reliance to sweeping and simplistic reactions to the incident.  To respond with pure military power without addressing the social issues will only increase the tension and threaten the already fragile peace situation in the area.  We believe that this incident must not compromise the peace negotiations.  Militarization of the area must not be an option, and must be avoided.

The claim of the military that the attack was purely motivated by revolutionary taxes is almost a mockery.  There are legitimate grievances, including consent, social acceptability, working conditions and environmental costs, that need to be addressed. We know that there is a pending case at the Supreme Court questioning the legality of this mining project.  Claiming that extortion is the basis for the attacks is simplistic sidestepping of the issues, and a case of self-absolution.

To accuse insurgents and activists as anti-development because they thrive in poverty to swell their numbers, reflect an immature and irresponsible appreciation of the issues surrounding large-scale mining.  The Chamber of Mines has a different view on development from the environmental and IP-support groups opposing mining operations.  The roads to these development scenarios are as varied and divergent as the modes and strategies to combat poverty.  But to put premium on their “view” of development as the correct path to development, mirror the narrow perspective of the miners.

It is understandable that the government and the mining industry will be concerned with investors’ confidence.  We sincerely hope that the Aquino administration display the same eagerness in promoting and protecting the general welfare and sound environment of the communities being impacted by mining.

We also hope that the DENR will come out as strongly for the protection of key biodiversity areas and watersheds, as they have come out emphatically worried about the status of the mining industry after this incident.  The DENR is coming out as a well-informed agency on how to utilize our mineral resources. We look forward to the day they also demonstrate heartfelt conviction to be the stewards of the earth that is also their other mandate.

We pray that the Dept. of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) will be as enthusiastic in recognizing and respecting local autonomy when LGUs decide to reject mining in their localities, with the same fervour they displayed in being concerned with the security of the mining companies and their executives.

We wish that the Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI) will be equally concerned about genuinely producing a National Industrialization Plan, as it is gravely concerned about the impact of this attack to mineral trade and investments in the Philippines.  Without this industrialization plan, the current rate of extraction and exportation of minerals is as irrational as the incentives and tax breaks given to mining companies.

We urge the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct a fact-finding mission to determine the extent of human rights abuse that were perpetrated. For those responsible for abuses, they should be held accountable.  In the same way that mining companies must be held accountable when they infringe on the rights of communities to move freely, access to water, self-determination and just compensation.

Finally, we challenge the national government and the Chamber of Mines to a national policy dialogue to discuss and confront the issues surrounding large-scale mining in the Philippines.  We believe that a reasonable and sensible discussion is possible.  But a dialogue will only be fruitful if there is honest resolve to find solutions, taking into account all perspectives, and not only from the mining industry.  We have posed this challenge to then newly-appointed DENR Secretary last year. We are still waiting for an invitation.

Should the government fail to respond adequately and in a balanced way to this incident, we fear that local resistance to mining can only escalate.

In behalf of Alyansa Tigil Mina

Jaybee Garganera
ATM National Coordinator
(0927) 761.76.02 / 434.46.42

Signed by the ATM Council of Leaders and Core Group

Judy Pasimio
Legal Rights and Natural ResourcesCenter– Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth-Philippines

Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)

Giovanni Reyes
Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan sa Pilipinas (KASAPI)

Tess Tabada
Visayan State University (VSU)

Miguel Magalang
Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC)

Fr. Edwin Gariguez
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines– National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA)

Anabel Plantilla
HARIBON Foundation

Dave de Vera
Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID)

Fr. Joy Peliño
Social Action Centre, Diocese of Marbel

[Press Release] WOMEN CLAIMING RIGHTS WITH THE UNITED NATIONS: Accessing the Optional Protocol of the CEDAW and the ICCPR

The WD Women and Law Class of 2010-2011 under the supervision of Atty. Evalyn Ursua, is holding a special culminating activity called “Women Claiming Rights with the United Nations:

Making the CEDAW and ICCPR Work for Women,” to be held on 23 May 2011, Monday, from 5:30 to 7:00pm at the Grounds of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD).

What started out as a very engaging academic discussion on various theories and policy discussion on feminist legal theory culminated with a bold move to uphold the rights of four women at the level of the United Nations.  Supervised by Atty. Evalyn Ursua, who is also the legal counsel for the complainants, the Women and Law Class of 11 graduate students were able to draft two sets of communications accessing the Optional Protocols of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of Women (CEDAW) approved by member states in 1981 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) approved by member states in 1976.

To date however the Philippine government continues to fail in its positive obligations to protect the rights of women and girl children coming from various backgrounds, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).  The Philippine Justice System, even with advances in international human rights laws and standards, continues to use archaic gender myths and biases as its standards for its decisions.

The Case of “R” via Communications to the CEDAW-OP

The case of R, a deaf minor raped-victim is an example of the failure of the State to defend the dignity of Women with Disabilities. After five years of prosecution and trial marked by a lack of sign language interpreting, insensitivity to the needs of R as a Woman with Disability, and several discriminatory aspects of the legal proceedings, the Court acquitted her perpetrator, basing its decision largely on gender myths and stereotypes. With no other local legal remedies available, R brings her complaint before the UN Committee as violations of her human rights under the CEDAW as well as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

To this day, she continues to deal with the trauma of the rape and the violation of her rights during the proceedings. She seeks relief from the U.N. Committee to regain dignity for herself and her family. She also requests for critical improvements to be implemented in local and international legislation, the training of judiciary, and increased access to services in general. As the first Deaf woman to bring her case before the CEDAW Optional Protocol, she speaks for the many Deaf women and girls who suffer in silence and are unable to seek justice for themselves.

The Case of Naomi, Rio and Julianna to the ICCPR-OP

Accessing one of two Optional Protocols of the ICCPR, complainants Naomi Fontanos, Rio Moreno and Julianna Giessel, Filipina women of transsexual experience, bring their cases of discrimination to the United Nations.  In October 2007, when Justice Corona penned a decision denying the petition of Silverio to change her name and sex on her birth records following personal efforts to harmonise her body and gender identity, the court did not just decide on the fate of Silverio but of many Filipinos with transsexual experience.  The decision penned by Justice Corona meant not only the death of Silverio’s dream but also that of many transsexual women in the Philippines (and even in different parts of the world) who have now been denied of legal recourse to address the incongruence in the gender identity they live with the legal documents they hold.  The Corona decision illustrates the failure of the Philippine Government to recognise their gender identity and is in violation of Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR.

In putting forth this communication, Fontanos, Moreno and Giessel seek for the following relief:    1)  for the Judiciary to develop an education and training program for trial judges and public prosecutors on gender recognition that is designed to make them understand SOGI issues and the condition of transsexualism; 2) for Congress to pass the pending Anti-Discrimination Bill that will protect LGBT and prohibit and protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education, as well as medical and public facilities; and, 3) Enact a gender recognition law that will provide transgendered persons with legal recognition in their acquired gender. The proposed law should be one that recognises a person’s gender identity and should not require a person to undergo gender reassignment treatment to qualify.

For Fontanos, Moreno and Giessel, taking part in the communication has revived their dreams of being recognised as women without having to choose their gender over their citizenship.

“We really feel good about taking part in this communication as it is a way we claim to define our identities as women and Filipinas.  If this communication is acted on favourably by the Philippine government, we can live our lives as women, Filipinas with the love and support of our friends and family.”

Prof. Roselle Leah Rivera, Department Chair of the Women and Development Programme of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development and Atty. Evalyn Ursua, UP Professor, take pride in the historic accomplishment of the Women and the Law class that was able to craft communications for the United Nations.  Rivera and Ursua note how students of the MAWD are continually encouraged towards concrete ways to apply their learning in the programme with the various advocacies they engage in.  Ursua further shares, “I think more than learning about the application of different international instruments to specific advocacies, the students were able to concretise goals of the WD Programme as part of the UP CSWCD’s commitment as an academic institution to continue to engage with various movements and organisations in human rights advocacy.”
For more information, please contact: Marion Cabrera  (0917 8530218) or Liza Martinez (0927 5288662) for the trans and deaf cases, respectively.

[In the news] GPH conducts own Mindanao peace consultations – Interaksyon.com

GPH conducts own Mindanao peace consultations – Interaksyon.com.

Ria Rose Uro, special to InterAksyon.com

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines — Government peace negotiators have embarked on a series of consultations with local government leaders in Western Mindanao to solicit their views on peace negotiations with Moro rebels, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said.

The meetings with local government executives kick off Monday in Basilan, followed by Sulu on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the government panel to peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, headed by chief negotiator Marvic Leonen, will pay a courtesy call on Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat.

In a news release, OPAPP said the series of consultations seeks to raise awareness and “engage them in the peace process discourse,” make the negotiations transparent to the public and inclusive of the voices of various constituencies.

The western Mindanao consultations will be the second conducted by the government panel with local government leaders. Last April, it had a similar exercise in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao.

OPAPP said more consultations with officials in other Mindanao provinces are planned in the upcoming weeks.

Earlier, Leonen said the government panel has undertaken a total of 24 consultations with various sectors, such as academe, indigenous peoples, government officials, civil society groups, media and the military.

Leonen added government is committed to holding more such interactions as they are set to craft a counter-proposal to the MILF’s proposed political settlement, which was formally laid on the negotiating table during the February exploratory talks.

The peace panels of both parties are set to meet again on June 27-28.

The consultations with local government executives come a week after the peace panel of the MILF held a series of forums with civil society, the academe, indigenous peoples and religious sectors in Zamboanga and Pagadian cities to explain the content of their proposed peace formula.

Before this, the MILF also consulted various sectors in Metro Manila.

Expected to join Leonen in the consultation series are panel members Senen Bacani, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Ramon Piang Sr., and consultant Hamid Barra.

Meanwhile, the Makati Business Club “highly commend(s) the efforts of the Mindanao Business Council and its partners in creating avenues for multisectoral stakeholders’ discussions concerning the Mindanao peace talks.”

Last week, the MinBC, headed by Davao city-based businessman Vicente Lao, partnered with the Asian Institute of Management and the nongovernmental International Alert to organize a dialogue between the MILF peace panel and business leaders.

“We hope that the Philippine government and the MILF will soon be able to arrive at a sound resolution of the issues standing in the way of attaining long-lasting peace and prosperity in the conflict-ridden areas of Mindanao,” read the MBC statement posted on its website.

However, the MBC clarified that it did not consider the AIM dialogue “official.”

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