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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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Overseas workers and violence Poverty is among the prime factors driving emigration in the Philippines. Many overseas workers who migrate rely on informal channels; these channels can turn out to be vehicles for various forms of exploitation, violence and trafficking. Overseas Filipino workers increasingly include persons from vulnerable groups, who move overseas to escape hunger at home.

Women make up almost half of Filipino overseas workers.33 They may be exposed to discrimination and risk becoming victims of physical attacks, sexual assault and verbal, psychological and emotional abuse. They may be deprived the resources they require for their physical and mental well-being, exposed to contract violations and occupational health hazards, excluded from health and social services or compelled to work in slavelike conditions.34 The State Report on overseas workers §93: unemployment Unemployment is basically an urban phenomenon.

§ 94: underemployment is a more serious problem in the Philippines labor market because it cuts across all age barriers and its magnitude is almost twice that of the unemployed persons.

§ 96: Underemployment is more a rural phenomenon §445: Special Programs for Overseas Filipino Workers As a response to the emerging issue of the migration of Filipino workers, the DSWD, in coordination with DOLE, pilot-tested the International Social Welfare Services for Overseas Filipino National. The program aims to institutionalize the establishment of social welfare desks at diplomatic posts where there are large concentration of overseas Filipinos workers.

§ 164: informal sector In the informal sector, marginal labor standards in work conditions adversely affect the attainment of a state of productive employment. It can also be noted that unemployment and underemployment are prevalent in the agricultural sector, mostly due to the seasonality of work.

Low labor and land productivity also pose complex problems.

§165 formal sector In the formal sector, the most common negative factors include wage levels and benefits, limited job choices, limited access to basic services, limited bargaining power of workers and perceived weakening of unions, and the increasing incidence of contractualization and flexibilization.

9. Extrajudicial Executions and Forced Disappearances of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Activists Filipino human rights defenders, human rights lawyers and indigenous or peasant activists engaged in defending economic, social and cultural rights have been victims of disappearances and summary executions.35 The following cases have been selected to illustrate this phenomenon:36

- Ricardo Ramos, president of the Central Azucarrera de Tarlac Labour Union, was killed on 25 October 2005 by the army.

- Reverend Jemias Tinambacan was killed in an attack while driving his van in Mindanao on 9 May 2006. Reverend Tinambacan was the executive director of an NGO called Mission for Indigenous and Self Reliance People’s Assistance (MIPSA) which organizes local people and conducts livelihood programmes.

- Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan were abducted in 2006 and are now considered victims of a forced disappearance. They were conducting research sympathetic to smallscale farmers.

- Manuel Balani, a local agrarian and anti-mining activist, was killed in late 2006.

- Armando Javier, a peasants’ rights activist was killed in his home in October 2005.

Impunity Perpetrators of violence against activists engaged in the protection of economic, social and cultural rights are rarely prosecuted, and the government has failed to implement appropriate measures to investigate such crimes, in particular those committed against human rights defenders, journalists and leaders of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, intimidation and threats of revenge impede the right to an effective remedy for persons whose rights and freedoms have been violated.37 The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions concluded that there is a “passivity bordering on abdication of responsibility [...] in relation to such human rights concerns.”38 The Melo Commission In August 2006, President Arroyo created a commission to investigate the killings of media and workers’ activists. Human rights groups criticize the Melo Commission for its lack of power to conduct investigations and for its membership, which consists entirely of government-selected commissioners.39 Economic, social and cultural rights defenders and the 2007 Anti-terrorism Act On March 2007, President Arroyo signed the 2007 Human Security Act. With the aim of fighting terrorism, this new law foresees the 72-hour detention of suspects without charge. It also gives law enforcement officers the power to carry out surveillance and wiretapping and to sequestrate assets.40 OMCT has been made aware of concerns that this Act may represent a further impediment to the work of human rights defenders and, in particular, to that of activists in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. OMCT is particularly concerned that the Human Security Act will render activists still more vulnerable to being apprehended under the guise of anti-terrorist operations. There are indeed reports of members of indigenous communities being charged with and prosecuted for engaging in terrorist activities as a result of their efforts to defend their human rights.41





The State Report on the rights of human rights actvists

§ 34: unlawful detention Under the Philippine Rules of Court, a person who has been unlawfully detained or deprived in any other manner of his liberty may file before any Regional Trial Court or the Court of Appeals or directly with the Supreme Court, a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus to obtain his temporary release.

§35: human rights violations An individual whose human rights were deemed violated may seek immediate assistance from the various government agencies concerned, such as but not limited to the following: PCHR; PNP;

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),National Bureau of Investigation;

Public Attorney's Office; Prosecutor's Office; Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, Office of the Solicitor General; Office of the Ombudsman or Tanodbayan; Presidential Anti-Crime Commission; Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for prisoners and other similar agencies.

§129: Collective Bargaining The Philippine Constitution guarantees the rights of workers to organize and to bargain collectively, as well as to participate in policy and decision-making processes directly affecting them.

§ 285: Right to strike The right to strike of all employees is the private sector is both constitutional and statutory

10. Recommendations

In general terms:

OMCT urges the Government of the Philippines to ensure that the legal safeguards guaranteed under national law are consistently applied and coherently enforced, in particular those provisions listed under article 2 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines1

In the context of trade liberalization and the promotion of foreign investments:

- Ensure that the human rights of Filipino citizens are not compromised in the interest of economic exploitation. Halt all projects that harm the livelihoods of Filipinos or violate their economic social and cultural rights;

- Ensure that workers rights are de facto respected, in particular as concerns the so-called Export Economic Zones;

- Constrain and discipline the excessive and uncontrolled power of private security guards working to protect the interests of foreign or domestic companies.

Regarding indigenous peoples:

- Ensure that the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples are adequately protected from potentially harmful development projects. In this respect, enforce the requirement to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of affected communities prior to the initiation of any commercial activities on their lands, as provided by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

- Recalling that the 1995 Mining Code hinders the proper application of the IPRA, revise the Mining Act or draft alternative legislation that effectively protects the interests of indigenous peoples.

Regarding forced evictions:

- Implement and effectively enforce the 1992 Urban Development and Housing Act;

- Ensure that evictions are used only as a last resort, once all other alternatives have been exhausted;

- Ensure that evictions are carried out in the full respect for human rights, in particular human dignity and the right to adequate housing.

Regarding land reform:

- Revise the Land Reform Programme in light of the discontent provoked by the current Agrarian Law, or draft alternative legislation that more adequately allocates lands, guarantees property rights and better addresses the concerns and interests of small farmers and landless peasants.

Regarding the situation of women

- Encourage the adoption of a new act that foresees the possibility of divorce.

- Encourage the adoption of legislation that ensures women and men the same rights to administer common assets during marriage.

http://www.gov.ph/aboutphil/constitution.asp Regarding the situation of children

- Implement the current legislation protecting and promoting the rights of children and enforce all related safeguards;

- Ensure that Filipino children are not unlawfully arrested and detained; ensure that in case of legal arrest, children are granted legal services and are protected from police brutality, irrespective of their economic means;

- Implement the current provisions on child labour.

Regarding extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances

- Ensure the implementation of appropriate measures to investigate cases of extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances; ensure that the work of the inquiry commission is carried out in an effective and fully independent manner;

- Ensure that the 2007 Human Security Act will be used only for the purposes of addressing imminent and tangible terrorism threats, and in the full respect of human rights. Ensure that the preventive measures encompassed in the law will not be regarded as instruments aimed at legitimizing the harassment, seizure, detention, ill-treatment, torture or extrajudicial executions of persons working to promote and protect not only economic, social and cultural rights, but human rights in general.

See OMCT, Attacking the Root Causes of Torture: Poverty, Inequality and Violence – An Interdisciplinary Study, Geneva, 2006, www.omct.org. In his role as UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture, Sir Nigel Rodley noted, “As long as national societies and indeed the international community fail to address the problems of the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable, they are indirectly and, as far as the risk of torture is concerned, directly contributing to the vicious circle of brutalisation that is a blot on and a threat to our aspirations for a life of dignity and respect for all”, UN Doc.A/55/290, Report of the Secretary-General transmitting the Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the question of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, 11 August 2000, §37.

Of course, many other measures must be taken to eliminate torture in addition to addressing its economic, social and cultural root causes. These are dealt with in OMCT-sponsored alternative reports to the Human Rights Committee, the Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.



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