HUMAN RIGHTS: ISSUES, TRENDS, AND CHALLENGES

Human Rights

Policy recommendations

A. Civil and Political Rights

Priority proposals

  1. Law against torture
  2. Law against Forced Disappearances
  3. Law against Extrajudicial Killings
  4. Law recognizing Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) rights
  5. Strengthening of Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

Other proposals

  1. Strengthening the legislative oversight functions of the Human Security Act
  2. Law that will abolish all forms of physical, humiliating and degrading punishment of children
  3. Amending the Juvenile Justice Law
  4. Anti-Internal Displacement Bill (in relation to armed conflict)

B. Economic and Socio Cultural Rights

Priority proposals

  1. Anti-discrimination Act
  2. Amend Labor Code on flexibilization
  3. Low-Cost Housing Act
  4. Farmer’s Rights Bill

Other proposals

  1. Amendment of Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA)
  2. Labeling of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

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A. Civil and Political Rights

Priority proposals

1. Law against torture

Groups have been advocating for the passage of law against torture for a long time. A large network of individuals, groups and institutions is supporting this proposal. There is no opposition to this measure. A law against torture will hopefully promote new consciousness among soldiers and police forces and positively affect the enforcement of their duties. The House of Representatives should also pass a resolution to ratify Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

2. Law against Forced Disappearances

Cases of torture and forced disappearances continued to swell even after the downfall of the Marcos government. Congress needs to pass a law that will institute measures and protect individuals against forced disappearances. Senate should also ratify Convention on Involuntary Disappearance.

3. Law against Extrajudicial Killings

Cases of Extrajudicial Killings have risen for the past six years. Government needs to act quickly and decisively. This proposal requires further study since there is no official definition and Convention that deal with extrajudicial killings.

4. Law recognizing Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) rights

There is no existing policy that upholds LGBT rights. Past proposals have been ignored in Congress. Government should begin prioritizing the passage of law recognizing equal rights of LGBT sector.

5. Strengthening of Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

The CHR could not fulfill its mandate since it was not given ample authority to investigate all forms of human rights violations. The CHR cannot adjudicate, issue a restraining order or writ of injunction and it is only empowered to investigate human rights violations involving civil and political rights. The law which created CHR needs to be amended so that it can have more legal powers to uphold human rights. CHR should also retrain and reorient its personnel to raise commitment and competence in pursuing HR-related cases.

Other proposals

1. Strengthening the legislative oversight functions of the Human Security Act

Congress should have more oversight functions to monitor implementation and prevent abuse of the Human Security Act. Safeguards should be strengthened to uphold civil liberties at all time in implementing the law.

2. Law that will abolish all forms of physical, humiliating and degrading punishment of children

Corporal punishment of children is one of the most common forms of violence in the world and most commonly inside the home. It’s also the most invisible and highly unreported violence. Existing national laws related to corporal punishment (RA 7610, Family Code) favor punishment of children done by parents and primary caregivers in the context of discipline and if the punishment constitutes ‘mild chastisement.’ Congress should pass a law that will abolish all forms of physical, humiliating and degrading punishment of children in the home and family and will provide for appropriate support to parents and caregivers in the form of education on positive discipline.

3. Amending the Juvenile Justice Law

The Juvenile Justice Law needs to be amended to clarify issue of custody for children involved in armed conflict. Soldiers and social workers need to be educated about the new law. Government should strengthen the protection of children’s rights. Amendment should also resolve issue of age of discernment in relation to rape or ‘Violence Against Women’ cases committed by minors.

4. Anti-Internal Displacement Bill (in relation to armed conflict)

Congress should pass a law ensuring human rights protection in conflict areas. Hamletting, food blockade, forced evacuation and other human rights violations continue to terrorize communities caught in the crossfire between soldiers and armed rebel groups.

B. Economic and Socio Cultural Rights

Priority proposals

1. Anti-discrimination Act

There is need to have laws criminalizing gender discrimination. Rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) should be recognized and protected. Upholding LGBT rights contribute to overall progress of society.

2. Amend Labor Code on flexibilization

Congress should review existing law on labor flexibilization, especially its impact on women. Contractualization should be discouraged as a labor practice. Congress should amend Labor Code to address the increasing flexibilization of labor. Amendment should also incorporate measures recognizing right to organization.

3. Low-Cost Housing Act

There are many Filipinos who cannot afford housing. Existing government housing projects are substandard. There is need to provide low-cost housing that is affordable to poor Filipinos, especially for the underprivileged and homeless. Provision of decent housing and basic services is covered by UDHA. Congress should pass the Low-Cost Housing Act. Government should also consider recognizing housing as one of basic rights of the people.

4. Farmer’s Rights Bill

There is limitation of farmer access and control over seeds by virtue of PVP law. There is no clear provision on farmers’ rights to seeds. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture should be implemented. The Farmer’s Rights Bill will provide Systems of Community Rights that will guarantee farmers’ access to seeds

Other proposals

1. Amendment of Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA)

There are loopholes in the implementation of IPRA. Congress should amend IPRA to protect IP rights especially in the context of expanded mining activities in the country. Congress should resolve policy conflicts between the IPRA and the Mining Act.

2. Labeling of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

Existing policy instruments have failed to consider cultural and socio-economic factors in approval of GMOs in the Philippines. Congress should pass a law requiring responsible government agencies to conduct comprehensive assessment, liability and readiness report on the GMO industry. Corporate responsibility is encouraged by mandating companies to put labels on GMO products.

Program : None
Campaign : None