general information

“We are not rebels. He had given us hope that we can dream on and get the land we seek peacefully”

Our friend and partner Evangeline Silva on the killing of Arnel Figueroa, a local farmer leader, who was shot by a member of the “Blue Guards” of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) on Tuesday at Yulo King Ranch, Coron.

IPON appeals to the Philippine government to respect, protect and fulfill human rights of land rights defenders!

IPON Coordinator and Martin Patzelt in the House of Representatives while human rights defenders could speak up for their cases.

Two days ago, IPON project coordinator Dominik Hammann and Mr. Patzelt from the German Parliament had the chance to visit the House of Representatives and the Senate in Manila.

At the Congress they had the chance to meet congresswoman Cheryl Deloso-Montalla and other representatives of the of the Human Rights Committee in order to discuss the effects of the possible ratification of the House Bill Number 1 („Restoration of the Death Penalty) and House Bill Number 2 („Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility“) in regards of human rights.

Later on Mr. Patzelt and Dominik Hamman also had the chance to meet the senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros to talk about the importance of independant human rights advocacy and to discuss the latest alarming developments in regards to President Duterte’s War on Drugs and Extrajudicial killings.

On the same day our partner Evangeline Silva had to attend a court hearing in Calauan where she could speak up for her case and her work as human rights defender. The hearing was also attended by Aileen Chua, member of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) and accompanied by human rights defender Zara Alvarez and IPON members.

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On the following day,  Mr. Patzelt was able to attend a meeting in the Foreign Ministry in Manila in order to discuss the current human rights situation in the Philippines.

Our partners Cocoy Tulawie and Maryann had the chance to visit the Supreme Court in order to do some follow ups.

Last but not least the rest of the participants of our Delegation Trip attended a protest walk in Manila which was organized by farmers and Indigineous People (IP) from Mindananao.

The aim of the protest walk was to claim the right of the farmers and the IPs in terms of land redistribution, the demilitarisation of regions, the restitution of ancestral land and the non-interference of foreign investors in the mining sector.

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The second half of our delegation trip begins:

Another productive day for the IPON-Delegation Trip and its partners. Today we had the chance to meet with the Assistant Secretary Elmer Distor of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in order to discuss current human rights violations in Negros.

Our partners Zara Alvarez, Clarizza Singson Dagatan from KARAPATAN and Evangeline Silva, as well as the German politican Martin Patzelt and various members of IPON had the chance to engage into an open dialogue with the objective to work cooperatively on the implementation of the Agrarian Reform.

Similar productive debates were held on a later occasion at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with Gina Lopez who actively discussed with our partners future strategies to strengthen human rights cases.

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Another Big day during the Delegation Trip: IPON at the round table

Yesterday we had the chance to participate at a round table which was hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Manila.
Human rights defenders (HRD) from various sectors had the chance to present their cases and to discuss the current human rights situation in the Philippines.
A focal point in the discussion at the round table concerned the question which challenges human rights defenders are facing under the new administration of president Duterte.

After these constructive debates and with the newly gained impressions Mr. Patzelt and Mr. Hasper from the German Embassy attended a meeting with the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Ismael Sueno at the Ministry of the Interior.

The day ended with a visit of our partners Zara Alvarez, Cucoy Tulawie and Evangeline Silva at the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
The talks with the chairman of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) Chito Gascon concentrated on the question how the CHR and also German politics can effectively approach the criminalization of HRD and contribute to a positive change.

KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights Medicalactiongroup Mag Commission on Human Rights Philippines Bahay Tuluyan Terre des hommes Germany in Southeast Asia

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Let the trip Begin: Finally the yearly delegation trip has started

As every year, IPON has organized an annual Delegation Trip which started two days ago. In the late hours of Friday evening, Martin Patzelt, member of the German parliament and special rapporteur of Southeast Asia for the parliamentary committee for human rights, arrived in Metro Manila. From October 8th until October 16th, Mr. Patzelt takes part in our annual delegation trip to meet different Filipino key players regarding the matters of human rights. During this week, Mr. Patzelt will be accompanied by three of our partners. This special occasion gives the Human Rights defenders the opportunity to share their personal experiences with Mr. Patzelt as well as to speak up for their cases in official meetings with central governmental stakeholders. But there is still a lot to do, as Dominik, our country coordinator, explains in the video below.  https://www.facebook.com/ipon.philippines/videos/1458362640847648/

While the preparations went on in Manila, two IPON observers had the chance to introduce Mr. Patzelt to Evangeline Silva who is the elected national president of the farmworker organization “Pesante” and a longtime human rights activist.

The participant of the delegation trip had the chance to visit Evangeline Silva in her home province Laguna in order to dicuss her work as political activist and the nature of the fabricated trumped up charges she is facing because of her work.

The visit included meetings with official state actors and counterplayers of her legal processes. Evangeline Silva had the chance to speak up for her work as a human right activist and for her own case.

For more information on Evangeline Silva’s case click here:

https://iponphilippinesblog.wordpress.com/…/the-case-of-ev…/


We are looking forward to an exciting time as well as to more enriching encounters.

 

 

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10 Years IPON: Click through the Gallery

Davao City Mayor Duterte Leading Polls Two Days Before Philippines Elect New President

It’s Saturday May 7 2016 – two days before the Philippine presidential elections. The Philippines is a constitutional republic in which the president enjoys extensive powers. Elected for a single six year term, he or she is not only both head of state and head of government, but also appoints and presides over the cabinet. To become president no majority of votes is needed, but the candidate with the highest number of votes wins. For the coming term 5 candidates have entered the race: current vice-president Jejomar Binay, Mar Roxas, currently Secretary of Interior and Local Government, Senator Grace Poe, Senator and former ICC judge Miriam Defensor Santiago and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

In the run up to the elections especially the candidacy of Mayor Duterte has received a lot of attention. With his categorical and often provoking statements Duterte has polarized the Philippine public. There are his supporters who consider him one of their own having grown up in the gutter as he puts it himself and not being part of the political dynasties as the other presidential candidates. Duterte supporters applaud his will to rid the country of crime, drugs and corruption within 6 months and appreciate his tough stand on crime – “Kill them all”[1]. He is perceived to be an honest man, who stands by his word in contrast to the traditional politicians – TRAPOs – who are symbols of widespread corruption and the resignation over politics as usual.

Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo 'Digong' Duterte gestures while delivering a speech during a May Day campaign rally in Manila, Philippines

From a human rights point of view however, Duterte as president – if following through with his promises – would mean a drastic step back. To put it in his own words „it’s going to be bloody“[2]. Davao City, where he currently holds the position of mayor, is known for its death squads roaming the streets at night killing so called criminals – petty thieves, street children and drug addicts. When confronted with the claim of having ordered the death of 700 suspected criminals Duterte corrected the numbers to 1,700. If president, Duterte is promising the same kind of „safety“ for the whole of the Philippines. His way of fighting crime is by killing those suspected to be criminals – if necessary himself. In a radio interview in December 2015 Mayor Duterte openly admitted that he had killed three people himself before. When the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) announced its intention to investigate the EJKs in Davao City, his reaction was to threaten to close down the CHR, a constitutional body, when elected president. Most recently, he made jokes about pardoning himself for multiple murder during a speech at the Makati Business Club and simultaneously promised to sign “1,000 pardons a day” for security forces committing human rights violations such as extra judicial killings – “Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte”[3]. Rodrigo Duterte is a candidate with contempt for the concept of human rights and no respect for the democratic institutions limiting the powers of the president. Nevertheless he enjoys broad public support with the streets plastered with pro-Duterte posters. The polls currently see Duterte as the 16th president of the Philippines.

What could a Duterte presidency mean for human rights observation by IPON?

As Election Day is moving closer and polls are indicating Duterte as the leading candidate, human rights groups in the Philippines prepare for the worst. Also IPON has to consider its options in case of a Duterte presidency. The concept of human rights observation as IPON is practicing it in the Philippines is based on the premise that the state has certain obligations towards its citizens as laid down in international treaties and declarations such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The goal of human rights observation is to create a safer working environment for human rights defenders by addressing government bodies who are asked to act according to their duties under international law. In the worst case scenario of a dictatorship under Duterte or the renewed proclamation of martial law (as was done under Marcos in 1972) it is questionable whether this approach is still an efficient means of reducing violence against human rights defenders. Additionally, the safety of the observers itself has to be guaranteed as a top priority. With the uncertainty of elections IPON will have to reconsider its approach once election results are published.

It remains to say that May 9 will be an important day for the Philippines – it might be the day a confessed murderer and announced dictator gets elected into the highest office of the country.

 

 

 

[1] Inquirer (May 15, 2015). Duterte on Criminals: ‘Kill all of them’. Retrieved from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/691527/dutertes-secret-in-keeping-davao-city-phs-safest-kill-criminals, 05/06/2016.

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSSsafAMTpI

[3] Time (April 28, 2016). Philippine Presidential Forerunner Duterte Says He Will Pardon Himself for Mass Murderer. Retrieved from http://time.com/4310651/duterte-philippines-murder-pardon-himself/?xid=fbshare, 05/06/2016.

Philippinische Menschenrechtsverteidiger*innen treffen staatliche Autoritäten in Manila

Vom 12. – 16. Oktober fanden im Rahmen einer von IPON und seinen Partnern durchgeführten Delegationsreise Treffen mit politischen Akteuren in Manila statt.

Die Delegationsreise war Teil eines Projektes zum Thema „Kriminalisierung von Menschenrechtsverteidiger*innen“. Ziel war es, Bewusstsein für die steigende Anzahl der Fälle und die Situation betroffener Menschenrechtsverteidiger*innen (MRV) zu schaffen. Außerdem sollte Druck auf die Philippinische Regierung aus geübt werden, aktiv gegen das Kriminalisieren von MRV vorzugehen. Mit Berufung auf das Völkerrecht,   forderte IPON in einem Joint Statement dazu auf, Menschenrechte zu schützen, zu respektieren und umzusetzen. Das Statement wurde von mehreren internationalen Organisationen, wie Frontline Defenders und dem Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechts Philippinen, sowie einer Reihe deutscher Politiker*innen unterstützt.

A shift from violence to jail“

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Auch wenn die Zahl außergerichtlicher Tötungen abgenommen hat, die Zahlen kriminalisierter MRV nehmen indes zu. Dies wird auch als Strategiewechsel von „violence to jail“ (von Gewalt zu Gefängnis) bezeichnet. „Kriminalisierung“ bezeichnet eine Strategie, die darauf abzielt, die Arbeit von MRV zu behindern, indem legale Aktivitäten zu kriminellen gemacht und MRV unschuldig inhaftiert werden. Oft wird den Beschuldigten erst mitgeteilt, warum sie verhaftet wurden, wenn sie sich bereits im Gefängnis befinden. Es kommt auch vor, dass mehrere Personen für ein und dieselbe Straftat verhaftet werden.

Begleitete Fälle nur die Spitze des Eisbergs

Teilnehmerinnen der Delegationsreise waren Zara Alvarez, unsere Partnerin aus Negros Island und Clarizza Singson, eine der Vorsitzenden von Karapatan, der größten Menschenrechtsorganisation der Philippinen. Zara Alvarez wurde nach langer Haft von über einem Jahr in verschiedenen Gefängnissen, endlich im Sommer 2014 auf Kaution entlassen. Des Raubüberfalls und Mordes beschuldigt, wartet sie nun seitdem auf ihren Prozess. Außerdem konnte Munib Kahal von der Organisation Bawbuk stellvertretend für Cocoy Tulawie an den Treffen teilnehmen. Tulawie wurde nach über drei Jahren im Gefängnis im Juli dieses Jahres freigesprochen und setzt sich nun weiter für Menschenrechte ein.

Treffen mit staatlichen Akteuren

Treffen fanden mit der Commission on Human Rights, dem Supreme Court, dem Department of Justice, den Vereinten Nationen und der Deutschen 20151013_105749Botschaft statt. Weitere Treffen mit den Armed Forces of the Philippines und dem House of Representatives sind noch in Planung und werden voraussichtlich in den nächsten Monaten stattfinden. Enttäuscht waren wir von der fehlenden Bereitschaft der Philippine National Police die MRV zu treffen. Ein Zusammenkommen wurde aufgrund fehlender Zeitkapazitäten und eines angeblich anderen Zuständigkeitsbereiches auf deren Seite abgelehnt. Obwohl die Treffen sehr unterschiedlicher Natur waren, war ein roter Faden, wie zum Beispiel die Diskussion über die fehlenden Bemühungen der regionalen Menschenrechtskommissionen, erkennbar. Viele Akteure schienen sich über die Situation der MRV bewusst und vermittelten dennoch das Gefühl, dass ihnen die Hände gebunden seien. Zudem konnten wir Erfolge verzeichnen, wie zum Beispiel das starke Interesse am Fall Zara Alvarez

„Viel erwarten wir nicht aber trotzdem haben wir Hoffnung und finden es wichtig, immer wieder auf die Situation von MRV in den Philippinen aufmerksam zu machen und Druck auszuüben. Wenn wir das nächste Mal ins Departement of Justice gehen, können sie wenigstens nicht behaupten, sie hätten noch nie etwas davon gehört“, kommentierte Clarizza Singson die Reise bei der Evaluation.