End Impunity, Stand Up for Human Rights, Uphold Due Process

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SONA STATEMENT of Citizens’ Council for Human Rights

In a little less than a month since his inauguration, President Rodrigo Duterte has delivered on his campaign promise to go after suspected drug pushers and users with little or no regard for human rights and due process. Units of the Philippine National Police, under the command of his close associate General Ronald (“Bato”) de la Rosa, have turned many low-income neighborhoods in the country into free fire zones. The bloody encounters taking place daily have polarized the country between those who support the president’s quick and dirty methods of dealing with drugs and crime and those who regard them as illegal, immoral, and self-defeating.

To date, more than 500 people had been killed in intensified anti-drug operations since the May 9 elections in which Duterte emerged as the victor. The pattern is worrisome: The police announce that drug pushers or users have been killed in an operation. Slain people are shown on television, invariably with firearms near their hands. The now routine police explanation: “The victims resisted arrest and fired on us, so we had to shoot them in self defense.” In some instances, the police story borders on the incredible. In a Pasay City precinct, for instance, two manacled suspects are shown on television being led into jail. Shortly thereafter, a policeman emerges to tell the press the father and son were shot dead inside the jail since they tried to reach for the police’s pistols and had to be killed “in self-defense.”

The suspicious circumstances surrounding incidents like this and many others have convinced many that the killings are rub-outs by the police profiting from the illegal drug trade who are out to eliminate people who can connect them to drugs. Others wonder if this anti-drug push might not be a case of killing the small fry but protecting the big fish since there have hardly been any big-time drug lords apprehended.

Whatever the causes of the wave of extra-judicial killings by police and unidentified people, the president must take responsibility for having encouraged them. Throughout his campaign for the presidency, he claimed that criminals had no rights and that they were better off dead than alive. During his victory speech in Davao on June 6, he asked people to take the law in their own hands and kill drug pushers, offering a higher bounty to people who killed suspected drug dealers than to those who brought them alive to the authorities. He has repeatedly said that rehabilitation does not work and at the solidarity dinner at the Del Pan Sports Complex on the very night of his inauguration, he told people that “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourselves as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.” To the police who follow his orders, he has said more than once, “If in the process you kill one thousand persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you.”

Fighting Drugs and Crime the Right Way

Those who uphold human rights and due process have been accused of not sharing the population’s concern with curbing crime. This is a lie.

We do not question the goal of fighting drugs and crime. Indeed, we support it. But it cannot be achieved by trampling on human rights. No one has the right to take life except in the very special circumstance and in a very clear case of self-defense—not a police setup masquerading as “self defense.” Everyone is entitled to the right to life and its protection by the state.

Moreover, denying some classes of people these rights, as Duterte does, puts all of us on the slippery slope that could end up extending this denial to other groups, like one’s political enemies or people that “disrupt” public order, like anti-government demonstrators or people striking for better pay. In this connection, we cannot forget that candidate Duterte threatened to kill workers who stood in the way of his economic development plans and made the blanket judgment that all journalists who had been assassinated were corrupt and deserved to be eliminated. That was no slip of the tongue.

A Dangerous Path

President Duterte’s explicit, indeed boisterous denial of human rights and due process to suspected wrongdoers makes him unique among those who have served as chief executive, most of whom explicitly promised to uphold due process even if some of them deliberately violated it in practice in pursuit of their political enemies. Duterte would not, however, be as confident in his attack on the universality of human rights and the state’s duty to ensure due process to suspects were he not supported in his extreme views by many if not most of those who voted for him. Duterte feels he has a blank cheque to disregard the law, and he is encouraged in this behavior by the rabid support he gets from many supporters who copy his aggressive style in expressing their views in the media.

This dangerous synergy between the Leader and his followers is normalizing the denial and ridiculing of human rights and due process. And this can only lead to the erosion of the foundational belief of the 1987 Constitution: that each citizen of the Republic is endowed with fundamental, political, civil, social, economic, and cultural rights and is entitled to the protection of the law. Further the Constitution’s Bill of Rights states that: “No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.” And that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.”

We demand that President Duterte order a halt to the extra-judicial killings and restore the rule of law and due process. We urge him to desist from inflammatory rhetoric that can only turn this country into one vast killing field where a rogue police force and vigilantes roam with impunity.

But above all we ask our fellow citizens to come out and speak up for the inviolability and universality of human rights, the rule of law, and due process. These gains that our people made in their long struggle for their fundamental rights and democratic rule are under threat. Impunity should neither be made the foundation nor should it be made to serve as a “counter-balance” or “exchange” for future economic and social development. Acquiescence and silence in the face of the impunity that now reigns is the surest way to the loss of the rights of all.

CCHR is a broad coalition of non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations (POs), human rights lawyers, religious sector and members of the academe that came together to defend and assert human rights for all.

Extra-judicial killings: Normalizing criminality under the guise of peace and order

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Citizen’s Council for Human Rights (CCHR) urges Duterte administration to stop the killings

The Citizen’s Council for Human Rights (CCHR) strongly condemns the escalating number of killings of suspected drug pushers and dependents who said to have died either during so-called legitimate police operations or at the hands of unknown gunmen.

The surge in fatalities is too alarming to be ignored: from January 1 to May 9 this year (129 days), reported deaths from drug-related violence was 39. But the death count suddenly swelled after May 10. In a matter of 64 days, 251 deaths have already been reported. What makes these spate of executions most worrisome is that this was prompted by President Duterte’s pronouncements, made even before his assumption into office, that urged the police, ordinary citizens and later, the New Peoples Army to kill all those involved in the illegal drug trade, with the promise that he would shield them against any legal consequences.

Coming from the Chief Executive himself, this declaration legitimizes a system of crime response where the police and regular citizens become prosecutors, judges and executioners. The Criminal Justice System provides safeguards to protect suspected offenders and all citizens against arbitrary acts through transparency, and checks and balances. The arbitrary killing of suspects bypasses this system altogether, infringes on fundamental due process tenets and denies people the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The social costs and dangers of arbitrary methods should not be underestimated. The disregard of safeguards endangers everyone in Philippine society: anyone can now be accused of any crime or involvement in illegal drugs and be executed before and without having a chance to publicly defend themselves in court. There is no reason why these violations will not extend to law-abiding citizens and human rights and environmental defenders, as in the case of Gloria Capitan, grandmother and campaigner for her community’s environmental rights.

Human rights organizations and the CHR have spent over three decades sensitizing security forces on human rights values and ideals, but these efforts are about to go for naught.

Besides extra-judicial executions, the Duterte administration’s war on drugs has inspired other excesses. At least one woman and a child has been sexually harassed in the course of operations. On many occasions, suspected drug peddlers and drug dependents, before having their day in court, are paraded in public places.

Apart from being an affront to the dignity of persons and their loved ones, shame campaigns and sexual harassment also undermine the well-being of communities and Philippine society in general. Such acts, categorized as psychological torture is prohibited by the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 or RA 9745. By allowing such illegal acts by authorities, we contribute to the culture haphazard, harmful and arbitrary dispensation of justice. Local Executives should treat drug dependents with compassion and facilitate their rehabilitation while ensuring that those involved in the drug trade are brought to justice through legitimate processes.

The Citizen’s Council for Human Rights does not believe these methods which deliberately violate the right to life, right to dignity and due process, will solve the country’s crime and illegal drugs problem. In fact, the social costs and dangers of employing extra-legal methods are high.

Finally, CCHR calls on the Duterte government to:

1. Immediately stop the killings of suspected criminals and drug related offenders
Law enforcement authorities and government officials should abide by our criminal justice system, by securing warrants prior to arrest, strict observance of police rules of engagement and maximum tolerance in the arrest of suspects, filing of appropriate cases and bringing them to the BJMP without harm and allowing them to stand trial. The killing of suspects outside the rule of law is palliative and does not tackle the core of the crime and drug problems.

2. Strictly prohibit LGU Executives and law enforcement units from implementing torture and dehumanizing methods in the fight against crime and drugs.

The listing of and knocking on houses of persons suspected of peddling and using drugs to as well as the “walks of shame” destroy the humanity of persons and their families. These individuals are also deprived of their right to due process and to reintegrate with their communities with dignity.

3. Professionalize and raise the human rights and respect for the rule of law standards of the PNP, PDEA, NBI and other law enforcement agencies and rid their ranks of those involved in corruption and syndicated crime.
The most professional and efficient law enforcement agencies in the world are those which have solid human rights foundations and those that strictly adhere to the very laws they are tasked to uphold. Strict adherence to the Rule of Law, institutional safeguards and respect for human rights must be the cornerstones of Philippine law enforcement modernization and professionalization.

4. Review and reform the criminal justice system and root out corruption in the prosecution service, courts, the BJMP and the Bucor as soon as possible with the view of making the whole system prompt and efficient in dispensing justice and reforming persons.

5. Institute mechanisms widely accessible to ordinary Filipinos so that corruption, involvement in crime, violations to the rule of law and due process as well as extra judicial killings and other grave excesses can be promptly reported to relevant institutions.

6. Review and reconsider state policy on drug addiction and make available and accessible proper drug rehabilitation programs and facilities to the majority of drug dependents who come from the poor.

Drug dependents are persons who are ill and are victims of addictive substances. While the manufacture and sale of drugs are crimes, drug addiction is not. Drug abuse is a public health issue and it should be the DOH and its counterpart units at the LGU handling drug rehabilitation programs and facilities, not corrections officials. 60% of those in Philippine jails and penal institutions are incarcerated due to drug offenses under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2009 or RA 9165; these are people who need proper treatment.

7. Invest in the realization of a life of dignity for all.
Essential services such as education, health, housing, food and the commons such as water and electricity and other basic needs which people need to get out of poverty and become productive members of Philippine society, should be democratized. These requirements of a life of dignity provide people with economic and social opportunities, enabling them to pave their way out of often unbearable conditions which engender anti-social values and behavior. We should address the roots of rampant crime and extensive drug trade and abuse as well as many other social problems by stamping out poverty and social idleness. These social levelers include a good public education which exists for the benefit of public order. Currently, we waste human resources because so many in poor communities are unskilled, when they could contribute to nation building. When all in Philippine society enjoy a productive life of dignity, there will be few left who are prone and vulnerable to dysfunctional behavior or predisposed to a life of crime and drugs.

8. Halt all initiatives toward the reimposition of the Death Penalty and the lowering of the age of discernment.

9. Investigate and prosecute the authorities responsible for human rights violations in the course of the drug war implementation. Justice must be served to the families of those killed, tortured and to those who suffered from sexual harassment.

Stop the killings and shame campaigns! No to vigilantism!

Address the root cause of social problems!

Bring offenders to justice through due process and the rule of law!

[CCHR is a broad coalition of non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations (POs), human rights lawyers, religious sector and members of the academe that came together to defend and assert human rights for all.]

Gloria Capitan: Killed for Upholding the Right to a Healthy Environment

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Gloria Capitan

Faced with the livelihood, environmental, and health-related dangers posed by an open coal stockpile in Barangay Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan, the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin (SNML) mounted a campaign against Limay Bulk Handling Terminal Inc. At the helm of the campaign was Ka Gloria Capitan: a 57-year-old grandmother, environmental activist, and President of the SNML. With the children of her community in mind, she passionately fought for the human right to a healthy environment.

SNML has already filed a petition to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the local government and the CHR regarding the issue. They have also filed a complaint against the local government, who now has a case with the Ombudsman.

After months of sacrifice, devoting her time to the grueling struggle against the open coal stockpiles, the evening of July 1, 2016 saw the death of Gloria Capitan – a mere few hours after the inauguration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Shot by an unidentified man and died en route to a hospital, she is the first non-drug-related victim of extra judicial killing (EJK) under President Duterte’s administration.

The Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) strongly condemns the atrocious death of Gloria Capitan. Her death is a reflection of the blatant disregard for human rights that has plagued the country, the culture of death and reprisal by those who have power. SENTRO calls for a swift and thorough investigation on the incident, and to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and their masterminds.

SENTRO holds the Local Government Officials and Units of Barangay Lucanin, of Mariveles, and of Bataan accountable for allowing the operation of an open coal stockpile near people’s communities, contributing to the degradation of the environment and of people’s health.

SENTRO also holds accountable the Limay Bulk Handling Terminal Inc. and Seafront Shipyard and Port Terminal Services, which apparently owns the former, for continuing to pursue profits at the expense of people’s health, given documentation of an increase in the number of residents of Barangay Lucanin afflicted with skin diseases and upper respiratory ailments.

SENTRO calls on President Duterte to stop the coal mining operations, the building of coal power plants, and other related activities in order to protect the rights and welfare of people and environment. Furthermore, SENTRO calls on the President, whose statements encouraging “killings”, to halt the horrendous wave of EJKs.

Gloria Capitan’s and her organizations’ bravery in the face of tremendous adversity is a feat worth applauding. Her death, however, is a threat to human rights defenders in this country.

JUSTICE FOR GLORIA CAPITAN!
FIGHT AGAINST EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS!
FIGHT AGAINST COAL!
FIGHT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS!

Women’s groups call on the new administration to respect women and human rights

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Women’s groups with CHR Commissioner Chito Gascon

Press Statement

We, women, celebrate the resolution of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that incoming President Rodrigo Duterte violated the Magna Carta of Women when he made debasing remarks on rape and abuse of a domestic worker, kissed female supporters and held them on his lap in public, to the women’s surprise and without their consent, during his presidential campaign.

For the victims of rape and sexual assault and for all other women who were affected by his acts, that the women’s right against gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment was affirmed through this resolution is victory in itself. This is a huge positive step in the struggle against patriarchy.

That the resolution upholds and promotes the Magna Carta of Women is also seen as triumph in the legal arena. This battle, however, is far from over, as the replies of the incoming President through his legal counsel and incoming Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, to the women’s complaint have focused on accusing the CHR of partisanship, and the complainants of simply discrediting the respondent for electoral purposes. Last Monday, the complainants filed a comment to the incoming president’s motion for reconsideration at the CHR.

We stand by the complainants that the movements they represent “have been around far longer than the Respondent’s tenure in government,” and that as advocates for women’s rights for decades, we are “duty-bound to ensure that the laws women have so tirelessly fought for are being respected and complied with by all.”

A number of our partner organizations worked in Davao City for pro-women legislation and it is, therefore, more disturbing that the same person claiming to be advancing women’s rights in his reply, would commit acts of discrimination and violence against women.[1]

We maintain that the respondent’s remarks/acts and justification of them in public speeches caused harm on women, especially the victim-survivors of rape.

As he assumes greater power, we are similarly disturbed by the lack of remorse, the disparaging of human rights institutions, as well as statements encouraging other human rights violations towards journalists and perceived criminals. To date, 40 suspected criminals, including a corn farmer in Zamboanga and three members of the LGBT community, have been killed summarily, since Duterte has been elected. He gave the police assurances during the campaign that they will have his full backing if they killed “criminals in the line of duty,” while also calling for the restoration of death penalty.

A mayor in Batangas had been parading suspects, three of whom were minors. A mayor in Cebu has been offering bounties for killers of suspected criminals. We have been witnessing children being torn away from their poor parents vending at night in the name of curfew. Women advocates suffer from rape and death threats when they raise their voices against the respondent’s acts. Not only was a culture of rape encouraged, but a culture of violence, death and reprisal.

We, therefore, call on all sectors of society to be as advocates, watchful and critical over violations of human rights standards we fought for through the years. We will also hold this administration answerable to its promises about ending contractualization, protecting the environment — opposing mining and the use of dirty energy in the country — and looking after the rights of farmers, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups including the LGBT community.

Our tasks in the women’s and human rights movements may have become more daunting as the Duterte administration begins, but as in the past so shall it be in the present, social movements press on and thrive despite of governments, even of the authoritarian kind.

Organizations:

1. Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) – Youth
2. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
3. BagongKamalayan
4. BuklodngKababaihan
5. Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
6. Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)
7. CPSU Gender and Development (GAD) Team
8. Development through Active Women Networking (DAWN)
9. Focus on the Global South
10. Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA)
11. KababaihansaSining at BagongSibolnaKamalayan (KASIBULAN)
12. LIHOK Pilipina
13. Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
14. MalayangLapianngmgaKababaihansaIrosin (Malaya Ka, Inc)
15. Mindanao Tri-People Women’s Forum
16. Mindanao Tri-People Women Resource Center (MTWRC, Inc.)
17. PagkakaisangKababaihanparasaKalayaan (KaisaKa)
18. PILIPINA
19. Respect FastFood Workers’ Alliance
20. Sagip-IlogPilipinas
21. Sarilaya
22. SENTRO-Women
23. WomanHealth Philippines
24. Women and Gender Institute (WagiMc)
25. Women Enablers Advocates and Volunteers for Empowering and Responsive Solution (WEAVERS)
26. Women Interacting for New Growth and Services (WINGS)
27. Women’s Education Development Productivity & Research Organization (WEDPRO)
28. Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau – WLB
29. Women’s Day Off
30. World March of Women – Pilipinas
31. Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality – YSAGE

Individuals:

1. DadineSaunarAbella
2. Jen Albano
3. Cora Dandan Albano
4. Holly Allan
5. Fatima PirAllian
6. Robert Andres
7. Edna Aquino
8. Zinnia Arcinue
9. Julie Jacob Asuncion
10. Faith Bacon
11. McoiBagaforo
12. Marla A. Barcenilla
13. Tess Battad
14. Yen Belarmino
15. Walden Bello
16. LaeanAbrogina Benitez
17. Zena Bernardo Bernardo
18. Maribel Brown
19. Lori G. Brunio
20. Annie Calma
21. James Castaneda
22. Kathy Clarin
23. Ging Cristobal
24. IvankaCustodio
25. Tina Cuyugan
26. Herbert Docena
27. Mila De Guzman
28. Yeyin De La Cruz
29. Angel Doniego
30. Julia Enriquez Cristobal
31. Mari Enriquez
32. Wilma Famoso
33. Astrid Fontanilla
34. MarevicBalisalisaFontanilla
35. Naomi Fontanos
36. Melvs Garcia
37. Patricia Gonzales
38. Viol de Guzman
39. AnjHeruela
40. Dee Dicen Hunt
41. Joy Anne Icayan
42. AvicIlagan
43. Lorna Quejong Israel
44. John Rex Jardinero
45. RossanJoson
46. MalouPantuaJuanito
47. Gemma Lambino
48. Yna de Leon
49. Ester Libo
50. Ted Lopez
51. Becky Lozada
52. Katrina Lucena
53. CieloMagno
54. NildaMangilay
55. Arnie Rabe-luke Manuel
56. Eileen Matute
57. Lan Mercado
58. ZenaidaSalientesMique
59. Lily Mocles
60. Giselle Montero
61. Eugene Moreno
62. MenchieNolasco
63. 59. Eden Ocampo
64. Joy Oh
65. GieOnida
66. Julius Panday
67. Bodjie Pascua
68. SokiePaulin
69. Corazon Pindog
70. Maria Lourdes Polotan
71. May Quizan
72. Odes Reyes
73. Doris Lois Rifareal
74. Mary Rebecca Rogacion
75. Tessa Cruz San Diego
76. Alice Sarmiento
77. Mel Soto
78. Joyce Sierra
79. Amelia Suarez
80. Filomena Gloria Subala
81. Msmyra M Tambor
82. Kelly Denn Tomas
83. Christine Anne Trajano
84. DinnaUmengan
85. Ron de Vera
86. Ester Villarin
87. Jay Yparraguirre
88. Sonia SoosotNisaZerrudo

Except for Duterte, leading candidates for the presidential race signs contract to end contractualization

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Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Poe and Sec. Mar Roxas

Three days before the elections, three presidential candidates signed a contract with a coalition of labor federations and workers’ organizations calling for the repeal of the notorious and rampant contractual work scheme in the country.

“We have the signatures of Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, and Jejomar Binay conforming to workers’ clamor to repeal contractualization work scheme in the country. While only 3 of the 5 presidential candidates have formally signed our proposed ‘anti-endo contract,’ we are elated that ending contractualization work scheme is among the primary social issues that is being advocated by all the ‘presidentiables,’ which will influence the outcome of the May 9 national elections,” the NAGKAISA labor coalition said in its statement.

By affixing their signatures, the 3 candidates have signified their commitment to fight contractualization. “Regardless of who among them wins, the minority president has a binding agreement with the majority – the Filipino working people. NAGKAISA will engage the new leadership to ensure that she/he will live up to their promise to end Endo,” the group said.

Unfortunately, Rodrigo Duterte’ did not sign the document. “This puts into question his sincerity in fighting contractualization,” NAGKAISA said.

Also known as “endo” (end of contract) or “5-5-5” jobs, this contractual work arrangement is characterized by hiring employees for only five months without security of tenure, paid with unlawful wages and without social protection benefits and privileges compared to what regular workers receive.

Both Grace Poe and Jejomar Binay signed the agreement committing themselves to, “Certify as urgent and enact the Security of Tenure bills both for the private and the public sectors as championed in the outgoing 16th congress by Representatives Raymond Mendoza, Walden Bello and Leah Paquiz.”

Mar Roxas agreed to, “Certify as urgent and enact the Security of Tenure Bill to protect workers’ rights from unfair contractualization,” but added that he would “study and develop flexible and lawful work arrangements to adapt to the needs of employees and employers, thereby securing humane working conditions and encouraging the creation of jobs.”

The Security of Tenure Bill referred to has been languishing in Congress for more than a decade now.

NAGKAISA considers contractualization as a modern day work slavery whereby workers toil to enrich their employers but are paid with measly wages, without Social Security System (SSS), Philhealth and Pag-IBIG protection benefits, cramp in risky workplaces and without security of tenure.

Aside from ending contractualization, other issues presidential candidates have agreed with NAGKAISA are providing for living wage, ensuring quality public services, reforming workplace labor inspection, ensuring the working poor’s right to the city, realizing full employment before the end of six years, among others.

The NAGKAISA is a coalition of 49 labor centers, federations, and workers’ organizations including big labor groups such as the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Confederation of Labor (NCL), National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), Partido Manggagawa (PM) and Associated Labor Unions (ALU).