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«List of Issues arising from the Initial-Fourth Periodic Report of the Philippines to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights November ...»

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§ 639: One major undertaking of the Government that has led to securing the housing tenure of informal settler on a massive scale is the relocation project for the “riles” dwellers living along the Northrail and Southrail lines. In Northrail, the government has relocated a total of 21,023 families from the Metro Manila and Bulacan Segments, completing phase 1 of the clearing and resettlement operations. These families have voluntarily moved to their respective resettlement sites, which the government has dubbed the Northville communities. This is the most massive relocation project to be undertaken by the government so far, HUDCC did without the violent conflicts associated with relocation. For the Southrail project, which involves the rehabilitation of the existing PNR Commuter Service line from Caloocan to Alabang, a total of 7,404 families have been relocated, particularly along the Manila, Makati and Cabuyao Segments. To sustain the momentum, the President instructed HUDCC to clear the large portion of Manila along with Taguig and Muntinlupa.

§648: Last 28 May 2001, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 20 reaffirming the government’s commitment to mass housing as a centerpiece program in its poverty alleviation effort.

§649: In order to address the housing problem, particularly those belonging to the bottom 40 per cent of urban households, the Arroyo administration pursued the regularization of tenure of informal settler families (ISFs) through the issuance of Presidential proclamations declaring parcels of public lands open for disposition to qualified beneficiaries. In addition, the Government targeted the conversion of government idle or vacant lands into housing sites that are intended to benefit low-salaried government employees, including soldiers and policemen.

6. Poverty and Violence Against Women It is widely recognized that in many cases, poverty is a root cause of domestic violence.

In the Philippines, this link is confirmed by the Women's Crisis Center in Manila.21 Among issues of particular concern is the absence of a law on divorce,22 which effectively forces women victims of domestic violence to remain with their abusive husbands. A second key issue is the lack of legislation granting women and men the same rights to administer property during marriage.23 This effectively deprives women of their own means and livelihood and makes them economically dependent on their husbands, hence increasing their vulnerability to sustained violence.

Violence against indigenous women and women living in rural areas Some groups of women are particularly vulnerable to violence. This is the case, for example, for women living in precarious conditions including indigenous women, women from poor Muslim communities and women living in rural and conflict-prone areas.

Furthermore, these women often lack access to adequate vital services - including support and counseling services - and have limited access to justice.24 In addition, lack of economic opportunities may force rural women to migrate to urban areas, where the likelihood of their being exploited is higher and overseas trafficking is also a risk. Indeed, due to the poor economic situation of many women and girls, and despite of the AntiTrafficking in Persons Act of 2003, the exploitation of Filipino women continues to increase.25 Women migrant workers and violence Another manifestation of the impact of poverty upon Filipino women is the feminization of overseas employment. Rural women are particularly affected by this phenomenon owing to their poor living conditions. Many Filipino women migrant workers, employed as entertainers and domestic helpers, are exposed to the risk of working conditions akin to slavery and to physical and sexual abuse.26 (See also section on migrant workers below).

The impact of trade liberalization Elements of the trade liberalization undertaken by the Government of the Philippines may have an adverse impact on Filipino women, particularly those women living in rural areas27. As noted, projects associated with this liberalization may have serious repercussions for rural livelihoods and further contribute to the trend towards the feminization of migration and its related problems, including violence against women migrant workers.28 Furthermore, and according to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, overseas migration can promote phenomena such as family disintegration and juvenile delinquency.29

The State Report on Women

§ 62: Towards this end, the Government of the Philippines has adopted laws to correct the historical disadvantages of women in various aspects of life. These include laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, emphasizing the right to education of women and the girl child, removing obstacles to women’s entry into the police and military, and criminalizing sexual

harassment in educational and training environment and in the workplace.

§ 432: Violence against woman:

Republic Act 9262, otherwise known as The Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004, criminalizes people who commit acts of physical, sexual, psychological (including verbal), and economic abuse and violence against women and their children in a marriage, when dating, or in a common-law relationship. For the first time, a Philippine law protects women who are abused by their spouses, former partners, or lesbian partners. It also includes the “battered woman syndrome” as a justifying circumstance for self-defense, leaving the woman-victim free from any civil or criminal liability if she injures or kills her abuser.

§ 428: The husband and the wife have the right to divorce under the Muslim Code (Art. 34).

§ 462: Anti-trafficking Congress also passed the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208). The law defines trafficking in persons as "recruitment, transport, transfer or harboring or receipt of persons with or without the victims’ consent or knowledge, within or across national borders by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs." The law gives legal protection to trafficked persons, regardless of whether or not they have given their consent. As such, all trafficked persons, without qualification, shall be recognized as victims of trafficking and shall not be penalized for it. The victims or survivors shall be entitled to the witness protection program, and to services such as counseling, temporary shelter, education, health care and legal assistance.

§ 444: National Family Violence Prevention Program A community-based strategy which educates family members on how to protect themselves against violence within the context of family relations. It mobilizes communities and inter-agency structures to consolidate efforts in support to families at risk of domestic violence through the organization and strengthening of Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children, Family Councils, development of family advocates/family watch and peer support to victims, as well as the training of Katarungang Pambarangay members on proper mediation of domestic violence through the conduct of the Family Group Conference.

7. Poverty and Violence Against Children

Street children, juvenile justice and violence In all cases, poor, disadvantaged and marginalized children are more vulnerable to violence than their peers who enjoy the elements of an adequate protective environment.

Similarly, poor and marginalized children are more likely to come into conflict with the law. Poverty and family or community breakdown can force them from their homes and lead them to live on the street children. In some cases, they become involved in vagrancy, petty crime and substance abuse.30 In the Philippines these children are often apprehended without warrant and detained without access to social workers for long periods. They are also vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment.

The fact that the majority of detained children are from the most marginalized and disadvantaged sectors of society means they do not have the economic possibility to appoint their own counsel. In turn, the absence of timely legal counsel undermines safeguards against torture or ill-treatment in detention. A further aspect related to economic conditions is the unreasonable amounts requested to obtain bail. In practice, this is a discriminatory mechanism and constitutes an insuperable financial barrier to children coming from disadvantaged families who, as a result, are forced to remain in extremely poor conditions of detention.31 The juvenile justice system in the Philippines is tainted by the inconsistency between the juvenile justice legislation as granted by the law (de jure) and its de facto practice.

OMCT recommends the Committee to urge the Government of the Philippines to ensure the concrete implement of the country’s juvenile justice legislation and put into practice all related safeguards. These should include the assurance that Filipino children are not unlawfully arrested and detained, and that, in case of legal arrest, children are granted legal services and are protected from police brutality, regardless of their economic means.

Child labour and child trafficking The high rate of child labour in the Philippines is a source of serious concern. According to a study carried out under the UN Common Country Assessment (2004), in 2001 approximately 4 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 were economically active in the Philippines. About 60 per cent of those were found to be engaged in hazardous work and exposed to exploitation. The same Assessment estimated that between 60,000 and 100,000 children are victims of sexual exploitation in the Philippines.

Child labour and other forms of exploitation, including trafficking are driven by poverty.

The Committee on the Right of the Child has noted that persistent poverty and overseas migration are among the factors contributing to the growth of child trafficking in the Philippines.32

The State Report on children

§ 490: Juvenile Justice Republic Act 9344, otherwise known as Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, provides for the immediate turn over of children in conflict with the law to social workers upon apprehension instead of jailing them as was the practice. It also provides for the referral of children's cases to community-based rehabilitation programs (diversion programs) instead of going to trial, and for juvenile delinquency prevention programs as well as rehabilitation and reintegration.

§426: Youth detention The presiding judge of the Family Court, who shall undergo training in dealing with child and family relations cases, shall have direct control and supervision of the youth detention home that the LGU shall establish to separate the youth offenders from the adult criminals. Alternatives to detention and institutional care shall be made available to the accused such as counseling, recognizance, bail, community continuum or diversions form the justice system and that the human rights of the accused are fully respected in a manner appropriate to their well-being.

§ 444: Rehabilitation Program for Street Children Recovering from Substance Abuse – a residential center-based program that utilizes the Modified Social Stress Model as a framework of intervention to help street children exposed to substance abuse has a healthier life and prevents the harmful use of substances. The project is being pilot-tested at DSWD-NCR’ s Haven for Street Children in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

Halfway Home for Children in Conflict with the Law – provides aftercare support to youth who have completed their rehabilitation program and with court order for release either to their families or for independent living preparing them emotionally, socially and economically for eventual reintegration to society. The project is being pilot tested in Region XI (Davao City) in partnership with Bahay Kalamboan, an NGO catering to street children.

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