January 12, 2010
Human Rights Forum Focuses on
Issues for the Next Administration
With the establishment of the ASEAN
Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
, the Philippine
Working Group (PWG) would like to bring the regional focus on the
promotion and protection of human rights to the national level.
Aware that a regional mechanism is only as good as its local
, the PWG held a human rights forum on 12 January
2010 at Makati City. With the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation
for Liberty, PWG invited different sectoral group representatives
to learn what issues they would like the next administration to
Commission on Human Rights
Chairperson Leila de Lima began the forum by giving an overview
of the human rights situation. “Change is a constant theme,
but we need a return to what does not change — adherence
to human rights
,” said de Lima. She added that while
there is no country that protects all human rights, there are some
that are closer than others. Unfortunately, the Philippines is not
one of those nations. De Lima explained that the government is aware
of the human rights violations, but remains delinquent. All the
rhetoric of the present administration against abuses has
hardly made a dent
. The core of human rights is successful
that lead to indictments
It is obvious there has not been enough.
is needed to address the current slow course of
De Lima reminded sectoral group representatives of the important
task they had ahead of them. After her presentation, they were going
to break out into small groups to discuss:
What issues need to be prioritized?
What has been done so far?
What needs to still be done?
“Human rights demand that everyone lives in dignity.
We need more thoughtful solutions than spur of the moment ones.
Our votes must be propelled by issues and platforms. Results will
reflect how we would want to be recognized as a people.
2010 will be a test of our intelligence, memories and
values,” she stressed.
The sectoral groups were well in attendance. Present were: labor,
persons with disabilities, migrant workers, women, children, youth,
prisoners, indigenous people, urban poor, rural poor, public sector
and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. This emphasized the
desire of civil society to work together with government in safeguarding
The PWG secretariat documented the forum’s proceedings
and will translate these into a position paper. It will then present
this to the presidential candidates. The PWG will also invite
them to another forum where they will be able to explain how they
would address these concerns.
View the Speech of Chairperson Leila M. de Lima here.