27 May 2015
President Benigno S. Aquino III
Presidential Communications Operations Office
Dear Mr. President,
Re: Civil Society’s Concerns on Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) Must Be Adequately Addressed
The Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) writes to you to convey several deep-seated concerns ahead of the appointment of the 5th Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP).
Firstly, the ANNI is alarmed at the legitimacy crisis that has plagued the CHRP over the last two years (2013-2015), which has negatively impacted the public standing and confidence in the institution as well as demoralized the staff members of the CHRP.
According to credible monitoring reports received from Philippine human rights organizations, the “crisis” most recently culminated in hasty appointment of Executive Director Atty. Marc Titus B. Cebreros, which was in clear violation of established rules of procedures pertaining to hiring/promotion, including the CHRP’s own pertinent processes. This follows the dismissal of Commissioner Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing after being found guilty of administrative charges in 2014, and on-going investigations by the Ombudsman into alleged misconduct of another Commissioner.ANNI letter re CHR
The 2nd Trainors' Training on Human Rights was conducted for CSOs, CHR, AFP and PNP from Regions 2, 4 and 5 ws conducted last My 11-15, 2015 in Antipolo City.
TRAINING OF TRAINORS ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The Alternative Law Groups (ALG), is one of the implementing partners (and the coordinator) of the project, Community-Based Dialogue Sessions on Human Rights Between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, and Civil Society Organizations and Local Communities. The project, which was launched in October 2008, is a partnership among the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF), the Philippine National Police (through the Human Rights Affairs Office), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (through the Human Rights Office), the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA). The project is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.
The project involves the conduct of a series of dialogue sessions in different areas nationwide. It focuses on the over-all goal of contributing to the improvement of the Human Rights situation in the Philippines primarily through the enhancement of the relationship between the AFP and PNP, on one hand, and local communities and civil society organizations, on the other hand, in the common effort to promote and protect human rights. By the end of 2011, after three years of implementation, the project had covered all administrative regions in the country through the conduct of regional-level dialogue sessions. TOT on HR
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
April 25, 2015
The arising of more than 100 personnel to register their strong protest against an appointment to the institution’s adjudged as done in “indecent haste” augers well for a renewal of good governance in our Commission on Human Rights (CHR). It is indeed a welcome refreshing wind of unprecedented change to demand from the CHR Commissioners its rights-based obligations as duty bearers in governance, i.e., participation, transparency and accountability. It vindicates quiet deep sensitivity for fairness of the many hard-working and faithful personnel in the CHR.
The first-of-its-kind petition forged and signed by CHR Directors, Officers-in-Charge (OICs) and rank-and-file employees from the national and regional offices disputes the eligibility and procedures assented to and conducted by Chairperson Etta Rosales, Commissioners Ma.Victoria Cardona and Norberto dela Cruz to appoint Atty. Marc Titus B. Cebreros as CHR Executive Director (ED). Commissioner Jose Manuel Mamauag dissented and preferred to leave the appointing of the ED, out of delicadeza, to the next Commission. The petition has been submitted to the currently sitting en banc Commission.
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) strongly decry this “midnight” appointment last April 13, 2015 while the Commission term ends on May 5, 2015. It deliberately sets aside the rules of promotion stated in the provisions of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and in the CHR’s own all-personnel-approved Merit Selection Plan (MSP). After studying judiciously the data and documents related to the said appointment, PAHRA stands in solidarity with the findings and protest petition of the CHR personnel.LTE on CHR Personnel Arising
Sentro, together with Greenpeace, PAHRA, Tambuyog, PCJPIC, Apostles of the Sea and workers of Citra Mina marched in the streets of Gen. Santos City in celebration of the International Workers Day, May 1. A Round Table Discussion with concerned government agencies was conducted in advancing concrete ideas on how to reform the tuna industry was conducted the day before.
The tuna fishing industry has an important role in the economic life of the country. This is particularly so in General Santos City where at least 200,000 workers and their families directly depend on catching and processing tuna.
While the industry has grown to be an important part of the global supply chain, resulting to windfall profits for a few businessmen, its practices remains unsustainable – socially and environmentally.
The ongoing and deepening legislative investigation on what then Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello calls as "criminal corporate behavior" of Citra Mina is starting to reveal how "customary practices" are wreaking havoc on workers' human rights. The systematic violations of workers’ and trade union rights – including unsafe working conditions, systematic use of blacklisting to keep workers in line, forced labor, slave-like working condition on fishing vessels, use of human trafficking, rampant use of the “cabo system” – are but some of the more abhorrent practices of the company. And since Citra Mina is a microcosm of the tuna industry, it is widely believed that this is actually the "customary practice in the entire industry."Sustainable fishing and HR
The Medical Action Group (MAG), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) has launched a campaign affirming the essential contribution of human rights defenders to the promotion of human rights, democracy,development and good governance, and calling on the government to support and safeguard their work, and to stop criminalization of human rights work.
The campaign, “I am a human rights defender”, is an offline and online awareness campaign by MAG, TFDP and PAHRA about human rights defenders who face risk and subject to attack by state and non-state actors because of their human rights work.
Every day land rights defenders, trade unionists, women’s rights activists among others are subjected to reprisal,intimidation and violence to prevent them from speaking out. Such attacks may take a variety of forms: personal threats or threats against members of defenders’ families, smear campaigns, death threats, physical attacks,kidnapping, judicial harassment, murder and other forms of police harassment o intimidation.
While human rights defenders play a crucial role in exposing and seeking accountability for human rights violations both by government and corporations, they have faced significant challenges on the field that in many cases, complaints by human rights defenders about alleged violations of their rights are not investigated or are dismissed without justification.
Cases such as filing of trump up charges leading human rights defenders arrested and detained is systematically used to suppress dissent and to silence and stifle freedom of expression and association.
For instance, the case of Barangay Chairperson Antonio L. Tolentino, human rights defender and one of the leaders of group of farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries, Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Hacienda Dolores (ANIBAN), was arrested due to trumped up charges filed by private land developer and detained since April 16, 2014, due to lack of competent investigation by authorities into the charges filed by private security agency employed by land developer.
And the arrest and detention of Jose Aaron Pedrosa, Jr., lawyer and human rights defender, on November 25, 2014 in Mandaue City, shows to further erode any confidence in our judicial system. He was charged with obstruction of justice while pleading to authorities to stop harassing the residents of Sitio Mahayag, Barangay Subang Daku, Mandaue City.These acts of intimidation and harassment only show the inadequacy of laws to support the work of human rights defenders.
This demonstrates the spurious ways in which criminal laws are increasingly being used to target human rights defenders. https://www.fidh.org/International-Federation-for-Human-Rights/human-rights-defenders/annual-reports/16546-we-are-not-afraid
This campaign is a timely call which should be acted on at the national, regional and international levels. At the national level, the government should ensure that all threats and attacks against defenders are fully investigated and perpetrators held to account, and to enact enabling legislation which recognizes the role of human rights defenders and guarantees their rights as contained in the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders.http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Defenders/Declaration/declaration.pdf
Protect Human Rights Defenders! Uphold,assert and defend human rights!
Stop criminalization of human rights work!
Enact a law for protection of human rights defenders!
Medical Action Group (MAG), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Know more about the campaign, view "Protect HRDs" video athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyUkRIjVdk