Archive for December, 2011









I. Description of the methodology and the consultation process followed for the preparation of information provided under the universal periodic review

1. This submission was prepared through facilitation of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) with assistance of the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) in coordination with sixty-three (63) civil society organizations (see annex 1). Four (4) national workshops and consultations including one with Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) were conducted to gather inputs and recommendations for this report.

II. Issues and concerns on the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground and implementation of international human rights obligations

2. During this UPR review period, Philippines adopted domestic laws that mirror international human rights instruments, such as Anti-Torture Law or Republic Act 9745, criminalization of violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) or Republic Act 9851, Magna Carta for Women, anti-child pornography law of 2009 and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

3. The Aquino government stated that human rights would be a pillar of his governance, a basis of his development plans and the core of the paradigm shift in the security sector. However, after one and a half years in power, it still has no clear human rights agenda with the draft National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) still waiting presidential approval.

4. Furthermore, human rights violations persist while the culture of impunity remains to be a glaring reality in the country. Factors behind this are the militarist and punitive approach in addressing the root causes of insurgency, weak exercise of command responsibility and poor implementation of laws. Police and military forces continue to be among the top human rights violators as shown in the records of the CHRP. Human rights enjoyment also suffers due to lack of harmonization of and conflicts in the implementation of laws, such as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and the Mining Act of 1995.

5. In a study of Atty. Parreño, among the 305 incidents of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) from 2001 to August 2010, 32% of victims were activists while 10% were farmers. This only shows that civil and political rights (CPR) violations such as EJKs and enforced disappearances could often be traced to suppression of people’s assertion and claiming of their economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights.

6. The Philippines also failed to adopt its NHRAP that would have given direction to the State to implement its obligations under the rights of children, women, migrants, indigenous peoples, and lesbians, gays, bi-sexual, and trans-gender (LGBT), persons with disabilities as well as the rights to life, food, health, education and work. Concomitantly, there is lack of decisiveness and haphazard approach by State agents in following-up the implementation of the accepted recommendations from the last UPR.

7. The absence of a National Monitoring Mechanism (NMM) composed of the CHRP, government agencies, security sector, and civil society, exacerbated by the non-passage of a law on the right to information and lack of transparency in complaint processes has eroded the substance of human rights pronouncements and encouraged impunity to thrive.

8. The State has to fully integrate and consistently use the rights-based approach in its governance, legislative and development plans.

9. Government also needs to harness the potential of civil society by reinstating CSOs’ participation in the revitalized Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) and encouraging CHR deputization of human rights defenders (HRDs).

10. Finally, the State has to maximize the expertise and material assistance of the United Nations and its member nations, such as inviting the UN Special Rapporteurs, e.g., the Special Rapporteur in Promoting Human Rights while Combating Terrorism and the Special Rapporteur on Disability.

III. Achievements, best practices, challenges and constraints in relation to the previous review’s recommendations

To read more. Please click this link:   Joint CSO Report to 2nd UPR_cycle

I Wish for You this Christmas…

(Photo by Aying Asis)

A good new life…. A New Beginning…


A SMILE to bright your days…

An eye to SEE the truth…

Words to COMFORT others…

Ears to HEAR the unheard.


Hands to OFFER help…

Shoulders to CARRY the afflicted…

Heart to EMBRACE humanity…

Feet to TREAD on justice…


LIfe in Peaceful Bliss!

Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year 2012.


By Renato G. Mabunga, Ph.D.


The 2011 Education Budget

Appropriate budget to fuel the implementation of Education agenda plan is crucial.  For this year’s appropriation, the DepEd is given P207 billion pesos.  This is 19% higher than the 2010’s 175 billion amount.  P12.4 billion of the budget pie is for the construction of school buildings; P1.8B needed to purchase 32.3 million textbooks;  P1.6B for hiring additional 10,000 teachers; P8.6b for scholarship, training grants and student loan programs under TESDA, CHED, DOST, and DepEd; P21million for Every Child a Reader Program (ECARP); P727.5M for science and mathematics equipments.[1]  Major intent of the allocation is to propel implementation of Aquino’s 10 Point Education reform which includes the universal kindergarten to achieve the “Education for All” commitment of the government by 2015.  The stress on kindergarten program for 5-year old toddlers in 2011 marks the groundwork for the K-12 project of DepEd.

Going deeper into the budget allocation vis-à-vis deficit in our education system, the current budget is still found wanting.  It hides under the pronouncements of ‘austerity measure’ and maximization of ‘meager resources’ to cover-up automatic appropriation amount for debt servicing.  More than thirty-seven percent (37.50%) of the total 2011 budget is allotted to pay the current P4.712trillion debt of the country (combined domestic and foreign).[2]  The budget for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) was cut by P367.2 million in 2011; DepEd school-building program was halved in 2011; it boast  of building 13,147 new classrooms for 2011 — yet the backlog of public school classrooms is some 113,000.[3]

Critiques suggest that Congress revisits the General Appropriation Act (GAA), scrap the automatic allotment for dept payment and channel the money for social services, instead.

Under the banner of ‘austerity measures’ the government embarks, through its Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016, Public-Private Partnership (PPP), in both infrastructure and social services, and Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) as major strategies to achieve inclusive growth.  While PPP in infrastructure and social services aimed at generating “high and sustained economic growth” and “equal access to development opportunities” respectively, CCT through its ‘Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program’ (4Ps) is thought as a “responsive and effective social safety nets”.  Accordingly, the expected growth is translated into reducing poverty and increasing employment.

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The annual Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was established in 2005 to honour the work of a human rights defender or group of human rights defenders who, through non-violent work, are courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.

The Award seeks to focus international attention on the human rights defender’s work, thus contributing to the recipient’s personal security, and a cash prize of €15,000 is awarded to the Award recipient and his/her organisation in an effort to support the continuation of this important work.

Front Line is currently accepting nominations for the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk 2012, and will continue to do so until the 30th January 2012.

Please click on the link below to access the secure nomination form:

By: Dr. Renato G. Mabunga

On Accessibility and Affordability:

(Photo by

Various studies on the current student dropout rates show that of the 10 pupils entering grade 1, 66% would eventually finish grade six; 43% would graduate high school; and, only 20% would successfully finished college.  Of the statistics, there is a stark 80% of the 55 million considered out of school youth or 57% unable to fully access the right to education in the Philippine today.   One major reason for this is poverty.

The latest report released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) pegged the Philippine poverty incidence at 20.9% in 2009.[i]  In such situation, a Filipino needs Php974 monthly to meet his/her food needs and Php1,403 to stay out of poverty; a family of six has a daily and monthly requirement of Php277 and 8,421, respectively.  For the National Capital Region (NCR) however, a family of 6 needs to earn Php9,901 monthly or Php326 daily to live above the poverty threshold.  This means that the government demands each Filipino to live with Php41.25 a day.  This computation is based on the Refined Official Estimation Methodology series of 2006 as demanded by the Executive Order 352.  This methodology defines poverty threshold, as the cost of minimum basic needs, food and non-food; and, the ‘poor’ is as those whose income fall below the official poverty threshold defined by the government.  In April 2011, the Social Weather Station (SWS) survey revealed, “some 20.5 percent of Filipinos or about 4.1 million families are going hungry while more Filipinos are considering themselves poor”[ii].  A family of six in the NCR with a monthly  minimum wage of Php11,076 (Php404 minimum wage + Php22 ECOLA as approved in May 2011 x 26 working days) will spend almost 64% for food alone and the remaining 36% will be subdivided among healthcare, rentals (including housing), water, electricity, clothing and education among others.  It was estimated that in the first quarter of 2011, 51% of the population considered themselves poor.  Though basic education is provided free, essential needs such as food, shelter, clothing plus transportation and other incremental expenses in schools made it unaffordable for many.

Another issue on the accessibility of right is the number and location of schools.  The Department of Education reported to have almost covered all municipalities and barangays in the whole archipelago with 55,260[iii] elementary and secondary schools both public and private.  The disparity in number between the two is highlighted with the gap of 34,462 schools from 44,846 elementary schools to 10,384 high schools both private and public for the school year 2009-2010.  This is despite the officially reported teacher-pupil/student/room ratio of 1 to 36 and 1 to 38 respectively, which according to the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) is actually 1 to 45 and 1 to 60 ratio for school year 2010-11.  No wonder that in Metro Manila alone, three shifting of classes are done in a day to rationalize the lack of schools/classrooms, teaching personnel, and accommodate large number of pupils and students.

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For the past five years,, the Philippines‘ premier online encyclopedia, has been awarding the WikiPinoy of the Year title to the person or group of people who has empowered the public by providing open information and in-depth insights into the more significant issues affecting the country today.

A WikiPinoy does more than information and knowledge sharing. A WikiPinoy’s output is research-driven, meaning, he or she does not just present the facts as is, but probes beneath the surface of each story and inspires people to be knowledge sharers as well. For a WikiPinoy, knowledge sharing goes beyond the comfortable seat of his or her office desk—he or she is proactive.

Unlike in previous years when the WikiPinoy of the Year was selected by the editorial board and staff of WikiPilipinas, the 2011 WikiPinoy of the Year will be chosen by WikiPinoys – the readers and contributing volunteers of WikiPilipinas.

Starting today, December 1, WikiPilipinas readers can vote for one of ten nominees for the 2011 WikiPinoy of the Year by answering the online poll question on WikiPilipinas’ official facebook account.

To vote for the 2011 WikiPinoy of the Year, add on Facebook. 

Read full article…

(A Statement on the 63rd Human Rights Day & the 13th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders)

On the 63rd celebration of the International Human Rights Day (December 10), we pay tribute to thousands of human rights defenders (HRDs) who offered their lives in the cause of freedom and dignity of life.  We take pride in the continuing assertion of others amid violent repression.  We salute those who have never wavered for the cause of human rights.

More than ever this year is a witness to the blossoming of human rights as an ideal and value in action.  The uprisings that spring from the Arab world, the protests that sweep major cities and urban centers in Europe, the Americas and Africa, the continuing difficult situations in Asia, all of which highlight the mainstreaming of human rights in governance and the aspiration of peoples for respect, protection, promotion and defense for human rights.  These conditions bring out the core spirit of people to be human rights defenders.  Young and old, male and female or whatever sexual orientation, rich and poor, summon all their voices together in pains of oppression in crying out mantras of non-discrimination, people empowerment and development, equality and human rights for all.

With these mantras, many tools have been mustered to usher effective advocacies and facilitate peoples’ solidarity with those who face persecution.  The social media for one made people see the actions going on.  Captured pictures and videos not allowed in a ‘seemingly’ controlled media have found their way through available modern communication technology, reaching even the remotest areas many people have not known to exist.  Appeals for help and international solidarity are made timely, on time and online.   ‘Revolutions’ for human rights have become virtual reality through communication gadgets made available for ordinary people.  What is inspiring, people have mastered these technologies to spread out the news, the truth and the dream of people to be free.  And, recognize the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world (UDHR, 1948; ICCPR, 1966; ICESCR, 1966).

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By Renato G. Mabunga, Ph.D.


The 1987 Philippine Constitution speaks elaborately of the right to education.  It vows to “…protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and… take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all… (1987 Philippine Constitution, Article XIV).  In principle, the Philippines takes cognizance of the normative characteristics or elements by which the right to education is founded namely: quality education, accessibility of the right and non-discrimination.  By being so, bonded itself to the obligatory nature in realizing the right both legally and politically.

The Philippine, as a state signatory to various instruments providing normative contents to the right to education, is bound by all these treaties and declarations to provide legislative as well as administrative frameworks for the realization of this right.  It must concretize its commitment to promote, protect and fulfill human rights in its development plans.

Politically, according to the Right to Education Project (2008), right to education is also an enabling right.  It “creates the “voice” through which rights can be claimed and protected’, and without education people lack the capacity to ‘achieve valuable functionings as part of the living.”[i] The state is therefore, impelled to muster political will for the realization of this right.  This is the framework by which we shall revisit the state of Philippine Education in the year 2011.

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