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Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines

International Ecumenical Convocation on the Defense of Human Rights in the Philippines

“When all the prisoners of the land are crushed under foot, when human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High, when one’s case is subverted – does the Lord not see it?”  (Lamentations 3:34-36, NRSV) 

An appeal to the Global Ecumenical Community for solidarity and action was held 17 September. 

While Philippines is bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, the human rights situation in the country has been exponentially worsening. On July 3, 2020 President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which took effect on July 18, 2020. This Act replaced the Human Security Act of 2007. This new law legitimises unlawful arrests and detention, undermines the due process of law, and runs contrary to Philippine Constitution. The legislation in effect, cancels all basic rights stipulated in the Philippine Constitution’s bill of rights guaranteeing to every Filipino basic and fundamental rights and liberties. 

Even before this law was enacted, Pres. Duterte’s administration has been internationally criticised for human rights violations on its own people. On June 30, 2020, during the 44th UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) session in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in her report (HRC/44/22), gave a critical view of the Philippine government’s human rights record and its “overarching focus on public order and national security, including countering terrorism and illegal drugs.” The High Commissioner warned that the Anti-Terrorism Act “dilutes human rights safeguards” and may “violate the principle of legality”. 

....The Philippine Commission on Human Rights is now investigating a total of 89 cases involving deaths of human rights activists from 2017 to 2019. Included in these cases being investigated are the most recent deaths of Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez. 

This convocation sought to:

  1. Gather church leaders around the world to stand in solidarity with the Filipino people in their call to uphold human rights, seek peace, and enact justice.
  2. Collectively reflect on the effects and implications of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2020—both in the Philippines and in the global promotion and protection of human rights-- and offer an analysis and draw a common stand on the said law.
  3. Encourage churches around the world to lobby governments, especially the member states of the UN Human Rights Council, to press the Philippine government to take heed of the recommendations contained in the June 2020 report of the OHCHR, A/HRC/44/225, and explore other venues for accountability like the International Criminal Court.
  4. Launch a Unity Statement* for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines that can be used to strengthen the advocacy of churches and other human rights advocates world-wide.

Read the full Ecumenical Convocation brief 


* Note: The Unity Statement was sent to participating organisations/individuals for approval prior to the convocation. 

The Convocation was co-sponsored by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, in cooperation with the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) and ACT Alliance, The Asia Pacific Forum, 1Christian Conference of Asia, Council for World Mission, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, National Council of Churches in Korea, United Evangelical Mission, World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Council of Churches, World Student Christian Federation

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