[Reflection] What should be in PNoy’s Bucket List?


Happy 2015 to everyone!

I believe this New Year gives all of us a resurgence of hope and energy towards the possibility for change.

As a tradition, some people used to make a New Year’s resolution to make a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something significant for the new year.

I am not really into making New Year’s Resolution. The closest I get is just to come up with a to-do list everyday. Not that I don’t live my days before by fulfilling my personal goals and plans, and that I was just caught up in a flurry of day-to-day activities. However, as my work and personal interest involve advocating for human rights, I feel the need to commit myself more to blog about human rights this year.

That’s why I have prepared a bucket list not for myself but to the Philippine government to remind them how important human rights issues are that need to be immediately addressed.
Here are the 10 wishes in my Bucket List on Human Rights for President Benigno Aquino III (PNoy) to act this year 2015:

1. PNoy must make human rights his top priority by not only making a clear political statement but most importantly by making human rights as an indicator of its development agenda.
2. Pnoy must finally adopt the National Human Rights Action Plan to guide his administration in compliance to its international human rights obligations.
3. PNoy must ensure that all human rights legislations particularly RA 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law of 2009 must be fully and seriously implemented to ensure accountability and ending impunity.
4. PNoy must recognize and guarantee the rights of victims of human rights violations for redress, justice and reparation including rehabilitation by instituting comprehensive programs and services.
5. PNoy should impose a moratorium on mining to avert its ill-effects on the environment and health and livelihood of the affected communities.
6. PNoy must stop the increase price of basic commodities and public services like MRT-LRT fare, water and electricity.
7. PNoy must ensure public health care is focused on providing the best service to people especially to marginalized sectors and not on making money through privatization.
8. PNoy must ensure that the rights of Filipino workers for decent work here and abroad are respected and guaranteed by providing them protection and assistance.
9. PNoy must translate into policies and protection measures the Philippines affirmative vote to a UN Human Rights Council resolution on discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT persons.
10. PNoy must improve the welfare and condition of teachers who are receiving the lowest salaries among the ranks of professionals and are often exploited through long working hours and over-sized classes, and deprived of benefits, even those that are mandated by law.

There are certainly a lot more to consider and the bucket list can be bottomless. But by acting on these issues, PNoy can make a significant bend in the road towards making human rights a reality in the country.

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Photo file courtesy of www.thecedarsoftownandcountry.com

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[In the Web] SOGIE and LGBT


By Perci Cendaña

Youth Advocate

 

 

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) recently made a landmark SOGI Resolution seeking triumph over discrimination. The UN through the resolution made a firm resolve to support efforts for policies that protect the rights and promote the welfare of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions.

 

LGBT groups welcome this new development as an important step towards greater sensitivity, equality and respect for diversity in the world. For the Filipino LGBT community, what made this historical feat more meaningful is the affirmative vote of the Philippine Mission of the Department of Foreign Affairs in the UNHRC in Geneva.

 

The challenge according to them now is to translate this international commitment into local legislation.

 

Please read full story at http://world.einnews.com/article_detail/226818802/PTb6eYgI7krKp1H3?n=2&code=uK_pQ4zSngo6aZh3

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Photo file courtesy of www.theguidon.com

[Reflection] Ten Facts that People should know about LGBTQ and Hate Crime in the Philippines


By Darwin Mendiola

The recent murder of a 26 year old Filipino transgender woman named Jennifer Laude by a U.S. Marine once again ignited public protest and renewed a call for wider recognition and better protection of the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans-genders and queers in the Philippines.

As a human rights advocate, I firmly stand on the spirit and letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that recognizes that (Article 1) “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and  that (Article 2) “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without discrimination.”

I wrote this article not to get into the nitty-gritty of the case but to simply share these important facts about LGBTQ and Hate Crime for the information of everyone.

This is a product of online research and not solely of my opinion.

But I strongly believe that sharing these Ten Facts that People should know about LGBTQ and Hate Crime can contribute to further promote and protect human rights.

#1 According to 2011 study of the United Nations, LGBTQ people are becoming increasingly vulnerable to crimes because of their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

This first ever United Nations report on the human rights of LGBTQ people provides details on how around the world people are continuously being discriminated and have endured hate-motivated violence, because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The report identifies homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as the major motivations for hate crimes against LGBT people.

Reference: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/19session/A.HRC.19.41_English.pdf

#2 Still, 76 plus countries around the world considered homosexuality illegal.

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), there are at least 99 people around the world who are currently in prison for allegedly violating laws that punish those who are born gay, lesbian or bisexual. While at least 148 other people are awaiting trial on charges related to homosexuality.

Reference: http://76crimes.com/76-countries-where-homosexuality-is-illegal/

#3 As a response to this alarming global gender situation, the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed this year a landmark resolution condemning violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people.

The resolution states that the world needs to take a fundamental step forward by reaffirming one of the Human Rights’ key principles – that is everyone is equal in dignity and rights. It encourages all UN states-members to take necessary legal, legislative and judicial measures to address human rights violations against LGBTQ.

Reference: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/09/26/un-human-rights-council-passes-landmark-lgbt-rights-resolution/

#4 Even the Catholic Church is now considering reviewing its conservative stance on homosexuality as Pope Francis called on the Church to welcome gays and lesbians in the community, who “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

Pope Francis reiterated this call on the Church during the Catholic Synod or the meeting of All Bishops to tackle a number of controversial issues facing the Catholic Church, including how to respond to changing families and how to better communicate Catholic doctrine. Pope Francis’s famous “Who am I to judge?” position has made him the “Man of the Year 2014” for LGBTQ.

Reference:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29677779

#5 The United States of America is one of the countries that recognizes and addresses the issue of Hate Crimes.

President Barack Obama signed in 2009 the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands the existing United States federal hate crime law to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. In fact, the first hate crime laws in the United States were passed after the American Civil War, beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1871, to combat the growing number of racially motivated crimes.

Reference: http://www.bilerico.com/2009/10/obama_signs_matthew_shepardjames_byrd_hate_crimes.php

#6 In the Philippines, a study backed by the UN has found that LGBTQ people have become more accepted in the Philippines.

The Filipino public seems to take a rather an open and tolerable view of the gay community, at least judging from popular media and the widespread use of gay lingo. But according to Ladlad, one of the LGBTQ groups in the Philippines. discrimination against LGBTQ still persists and they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hate crimes. The UN study found hate crimes remained a big threat among the LGBTQ community in the Philippines. It cited that there were at least 28 LGBT people reportedly killed in the first half of 2011.

Reference: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/05/12/un-study-finds-gays-increasingly-accepted-in-phillipines-but-hate-crimes-remain-a-threat

#7 The Commission on Human Rights performs a function of a Gender Ombud.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) announced in 2013 that the Commission will look into cases of hate crimes against Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders (LGBTs) across the country which hopefully lead to a better prosecution and investigation of hate crimes.

Reference: http://www.rappler.com/nation/35553-chr-document-hate-crimes-lgbts

#8 Hate Crime is not yet a distinct crime in the Philippines.

LGBTQ groups claimed that violence against LGBTQ people is not treated as a hate crime. There is no specific mechanism that helps identify hate crime victims or makes use of the sexual orientation and gender identity of the person as the aggravating circumstance for the commission of the crime. It is not even investigated as such and just merely considered as a common crime against any person and/ or property. LGBTQ groups lament the absence of an anti-Hate Crime law in the Philippines. The fact that there are no basic figures and statistics on Hate Crimes shows that the government has not considered as such in past years.

References: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/blogs/the-inbox/lgbt-hate-crimes-rise-024938543.html

#9 Just recently, Sen. Bam Aquino filed the Senate Bill No. 2122 or the Anti-Discrimination Act of 2014, which seeks to combat discrimination of any forms. The bill seeks to prohibit and penalize discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, civil status, HIV status and other medical condition, among others. Among the acts that will be prohibited are inflicting stigma; denial of political civil, and cultural rights; denial of right to education such as refusal to admit or expulsion and imposition of sanctions or penalties; denial of right to work; denial of access to goods and services; denial of right to organize; inflicting hard on health and well-being; engaging in profiling; abuses by state and non-state actors; and detention and confinement. Under the bill, any act of discrimination shall be fined from P100,000 to P500,000 and an imprisonment of up to 12 years. A similar bill was filed by Rep. Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna, last June 26 which aimed to pioneer a House probe on the growing numbers of hate crimes in the country.

Reference: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/383705/news/nation/stiffer-penalties-for-hate-crimes-vs-lgbts-pushed-after-transgender-s-killing

#10 Quezon City, Philippines’ largest city has approved ordinance that bans anti-gay discrimination.

The ordinance is the first of its kind in the Philippines. It expands the 2003 City Resolution which only centered on discrimination of homosexuals in terms of employment.

The new city-wide ordinance makes it mandatory to educate employers and educators around the city on the rights of LGBTQ.

It prohibits and provides sanctions on any violations of LGBTQ’s rights on equal access to job opportunities, delivery of goods or services, insurance, and accommodation in Quezon City.

Under the new ordinance, establishments will be directed to designate a comfort room that can be used by all genders, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Reference: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/10/02/philippines-quezon-city-passes-law-banning-anti-gay-discrimination/

While immediate focus should be on resolving the significant rise of alleged Hate Crime, much attention should also be given to any forms of discrimination against LGBTQ community.

Though, crime prevention is primary a government’s responsibility, prevention of any forms of discrimination is everyone’s business. It is about time for all of us to get out of the jury box with all our biases and prejudices. It must begin from us. For all we know recognition comes respect and respect begets responsibility which entails accountability.

No to hate crime Photo file courtesy of  www.rappler.com

[Document] Presentation on the UN Convention Against Torture


By Medical Action Group

Torture is considered a crime under the international human rights law. It is prohibited everywhere, at all times, and no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be used to justify it. However, the practice of torture continues unabated throughout the world including the Philippines.

Torture means “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

It most often takes place in places of detention – where people deprived of liberty are especially vulnerable to mistreatment. Women in detention are usually subjected to gender-based violence. While there are those who are subjected to acts of torture on the grounds of their sexual orientation, ethnic origins, religious and political beliefs, age or disabilities.

Almost anyone can be at risk of torture – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or political beliefs.

No one is safe.

Yet, no one is punished for committing torture.

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Ms. Edeliza P. Hernandez, MAG Executive Director discusses the UN Convention Against Torture before the participants of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Training Workshop on International Affairs and Policies held on October 22-24, 2014 at Torre Venezia Hotel in Timog Avenue, Quezon City.

You may download the presentation here.

UN CAT Presentation

[Document] Position Paper of the United Against Torture Coalition on the National Preventive Mechanism


By Atty. Ricardo Sunga III

Within one year from ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Philippines is obligated to establish a national preventive mechanism. It is one or several visiting bodies, set up, designated or maintained, at the domestic level, for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

There is range of possible forms that the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) can take. This paper explores them. Section I of this paper considers the standards that the NPM must observe. Section II critically examines the various possible forms of the NPM through the lens of these standards.

This paper was written by Atty. Ricardo A. Sunga III for the United Against Torture Coalition in 2012.

Ricardo Sunga III, LLB (University of the Philippines) and LLM (University of New South Wales), is a member of the Philippine Bar. He has been a professorial lecturer at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and is currently a Law Reform Specialist of the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights. He is also the Regional Coordinator for the National Capital Region of the Free Legal Assistance Group, an organization of human rights lawyers.

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Photo File: Courtesy of www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk

You can download the UATC Position Paper here.

UATC-NPMPositionPaper

[Video] Death Penalty: Facts and Figures of 2013


By Amnesty International

The death penalty is a premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. It violates the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The human rights organizations around the world have been opposing the use of death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to judicially execute anyone. It is not only legally and morally wrong, it is practically unacceptable as well.

  • It is not necessary for an effective system of criminal justice. The deficiencies in due process is irreparable.
  • There is nothing that can justify the taking of any life. Its sever social costs and values disintegration outweigh against its supposed social benefits.
  • The financial burdens it puts on the state are far heavier than those of a system that includes only life imprisonment without parole.

Death to Death Penalty! Watch the video at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VZjD96C9uk

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