RP gov’t launches 'Human Rights Mainstreaming Initiatives' on Int’l Human Rights Day

December 10, 2009 11:19 pm 

MANILA, Dec. 10 —- Government today launched its “Human Right Mainstreaming Initiatives” program at a forum aimed at formulating the country’s Second National Rights Action Plan, in observance of International Human Rights Day.

Also at the forum, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and the Philippine Human Rights Committee (PHRC), along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), signed a manifesto of support for the initiatives.

NEDA Deputy Director-General Rolando Tungpalan, CHR chairperson Leila de Lima, Undersecretary Severo Catura, and UNDP-Philippines country director Renaud Meyer signed for their organizations.

The book, “Completing the Circle of Human Rights,” by Supreme Court Administrator Jose Perez was launched at the forum. Chairperson Myrna Yao of the Philippine Commission on Women presented a review of the Philippine Performance vis-à-vis the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women ), a 30-year old United Nations document.

On her part, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Annabelle Abaya highlighted a review of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Alternative Dispute Resolution as they apply to government’s current efforts on the Mindanao issue as well as with the National Democratic Front.

In a related development, the non-governmental organization Alternative Law Group (ALG) of Atty. Marlon J. Manuel today also launched its “Defending the Human Rights Defenders Program.” It is supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands and represented at the launching by its political counselor, Anita Van De Haar-Conijn.

Manuel told the Philippines News Agency that ALG is concerned that as cases of involuntary disappearances, abductions, extrajudicial killings and other human rights issues increases in the Philippines, their lawyers and defenders also face increasing death threats, and physical and verbal abuses.

The Defenders program is envisioned as a funding mechanism for activities that seek to protect the country’s defenders of economic, social and cultural rights as they go about their advocacy, according to Manuel.

The program will focus on preventive measures, that is, those that protect human rights defenders against violence, harassment, threats or actual abuse.

It is not for measures that seek to hold accountable the person or groups responsible for violence, harassments, threats or abuses that had been committed, Manuel clarified.

As an example, Manuel mentioned the case of farmer leader and paralegal Rene Penas of Mindanao, who was gunned down by still unidentified persons near his home in Bukidnon.

Penas was known for marching with farmers all the way from Bukidnon to Manila in his advocy labelled as the “Walk for Land, Walk for Justice” project.

His group was then campaigning for the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extention with Reforms (CARPER) law. (PNA)

V3/GJB

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