On the morning of January 16, 2019, Racquel Quintano, 42, spokesperson
of Kalumonan, an organization composed of kin of political prisoners
in Southern Mindanao, was abducted by still unknown assailants.
According to witnesses, as Racquel was waiting for a jeepney along
Sunrise St. in Brgy. Madaum, Tagum City, a black car stopped in
front of her. Men dragged her inside and sped off. A search team has
been mobilized, but as of this writing, Racquel’s whereabouts remain
unknown. Racquel is also a human rights worker of Karapatan Southern
Mindanao Region (SMR). She was among the delegates in Karapatan’s
5th National Congress in August 2018.
strongly condemn the abduction of another Karapatan human rights
worker, and demand that State forces immediately surface Racquel and
return her to her family. We know Racquel as a staunch rights
advocate. She assisted two torture victims in the filing of their
complaints at the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) last year. She
has worked tirelessly to seek accountability for the injustices done
against the two victims, one of whom was a minor when the incident
occurred,” Palabay explained.
The Karapatan official
also noted that a week ago, the human rights community have been
branded by the President as enemies of the State. “From the start of
his term, Duterte has mentioned Karapatan at least six times in his
speeches, red-tagging the organization and discrediting our work.
People like Racquel have worked under dangerous and disadvantageous
circumstances to aid victims of rights violations throughout
regimes. Yet, we ourselves are continuously being subjected to
violations, with the government actively inciting threats against
us,” she said, adding that since 2001, at least 40 human rights
workers of Karapatan have been killed by State forces.
On the same day, Jennifer
David, 28, a community organizer of Kabataan Partylist-Central
Luzon, was illegally arrested by elements of the police in her
residence in Brgy. San Matias, Sto. Tomas, Pampanga. She was
detained at the Sto. Tomas police station, afterwhich she was
brought to a court in Cavite. Jennifer has worked with Kabataan
Partylist since 2011. According to recent updates from the quick
reaction team (QRT), Jennifer has now been released. She was
interrogated by police and military elements.
“The danger that human
rights defenders face, particularly women, under the Duterte regime
has reached a critical level. Women who remain in the custody of
State forces remain vulnerable to further abuses. In Mindanao where
martial law is implemented, state security forces commit atrocities
with reckless abandon. The same can be said in other areas in the
country where de facto martial law is crippling any form of dissent.
However, the voices of victims and their families, communities,
organizations and rights workers continue to expose these abuses and
demand accountability for these crimes against the Filipino people,”
ensure children’s rights to education and survival - Save the
January 16, 2019
MAKATI CITY – Save
the Children Philippines welcomes partnership with the Department of
Education and Prudence Foundation in strengthening safety in schools
as millions of children face risk of injury, psychosocial trauma and
deaths during disasters and emergencies.
The project - Education
Safe from Disasters was launched on January 16, 2019 to be
implemented by the Department of Education, in partnership with Save
the Children Philippines and Prudence Foundation.
The three year project
improves the capacity of learners, teachers, schools staff and
officials on disaster preparedness and risk reduction. It also
integrates safety and disaster resiliency in the construction and
retrofitting of school buildings. The program will be pilot tested
in 16 schools division in Metro Manila.
The Philippines ranks
third in the 2016 World Risk Index of the most disaster prone
countries in the world. Every year, the country is hit by almost all
forms of natural and man-made calamities like typhoons, earthquakes,
floods, volcanic eruptions, landslides. Lingering armed conflict in
Mindanao and parts of Visayas continue to disrupt classes and
displace families and children.
Lawyer Albert Muyot, Chief
Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines said safety in
schools guarantee children’s rights to survival and basic education.
Learners spend five to
eight hours in schools during weekdays and their safety and security
should be ensured while they are away from parents and guardians.
From 2007 to 2012, a total
of 11 Million schoolchildren in the Philippines were affected by
major disasters jeopardizing their rights to education and survival.
“Children face the
harshest impact of disasters and emergencies, as they miss out on
school, suffer injury and worse, deaths,” said Muyot. “We welcome
the Education Safe from Disasters as part of our comprehensive
child-rights based response to the needs of learners before, during
and after disasters and emergencies.”
Save the Children
Philippines has been providing emergency response during disasters
by establishing Child Friendly Space (CFS) where displaced children
can play and learn and Temporary Learning Space (TLS) where school
age children can attend alternative classes.
The organization has
provided interventions for thousands of displaced children during
typhoon Mangkhut that hit Northern Luzon provinces and armed
conflict in Marawi.
January 2019 Labor Force Survey (LFS) and 2018 Family Income and
Expenditure Survey (FIES) - visit 2
January 15, 2019
TACLOBAN CITY – The
Philippine Statistics Authority, Regional Statistical Service Office
VIII (PSA RSSO VIII) will conduct the January 2019 Labor Force
Survey (LFS) and the 2018 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES)
– Visit 2 which will be carried out simultaneously on 14 January
A total of 10,663
systematically and randomly selected sample households in Region
VIII were identified as respondents. Around 364 Hired Statistical
Researchers and Team Supervisors will be deployed across the region
to conduct the interviews.
The LFS is a quarterly
nationwide survey of households which aims to gather data on the
demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population,
and to provide a quantitative framework for the preparation of plans
and formulation of policies affecting the labor market.
Specifically, the LFS
serves as a tool in measuring the distribution of household
population 15 years old and over by employment status – employed,
unemployed or underemployed. It is also used to determine various
employment characteristics such as industry, class of worker, nature
of employment and basis of payment.
The 2018 FIES-Visit 2,
meanwhile, is the second of two rounds covering the second semester
of 2018 (July to December) as reference period. It is a nationwide
survey of households conducted every three years which aims to
gather data on family income and expenditure, to include among
others, levels of consumption by item of expenditure as well as
sources of income in cash and in kind. The results of FIES provide
inputs in the estimation of poverty threshold and incidence. It also
determines the levels of living and disparities in income of
Filipino families, as well as their spending patterns.
The PSA appeals to the
public to cooperate and support the conduct of these surveys. The
office also assures that all information gathered will be held
strictly confidential and shall not be used as evidence in court for
purposes of taxation, regulation or investigation as provided for in
RA 10625.Data generated from these surveys will be disseminated in
statistical summaries without reference to any individual person or
ACT demands for
substantial pay hike, says 4th tranche not enough
Alliance of Concerned
January 15, 2019
QUEZON CITY – Teachers
from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) renewed their call for
substantial salary increase upon Budget Chief Diokno’s announcement
regarding the February release of the 4th tranche of the salary
adjustment under Executive Order 201, s. 2016. The group denounced
the lamentable increase in their salaries while top government
officials receive as much as P100K additional to their already
“The 4th tranche only amounts to an increase of P575 for Teacher I,
P789 for Teacher II, and P1,008 for Teacher III, and it is us who
compose around 90% of the workforce in public basic education.
Meanwhile, the President will receive an additional P101,656 and DBM
Sec. ‘Joke-no’ may receive as much as P71,601 more. It is impossible
to miss the injustice here,” declared Joselyn Martinez, ACT National
Martinez argued that these amounts “hardly cover the erosion in our
salaries due to the TRAIN-induced surge in inflation last year,
which were implemented by the very people in our government whose
salaries were barely hurt by the rise in prices of basic
Educators that belong to Teacher I, II, and III ranks will receive
2.8% to 4.2% salary increases under the 4th tranche of pay hike,
which are way below the 5.2% inflation rate in 2018. President
Duterte, on the other hand, will receive a 34% increase on his
“We are hoping that this is not what the President was referring to
when he claimed to want to raise our salaries this year,” said
She stated that ACT is more than willing to discuss with the
President the immediate and just demands of teachers, adding that
“as the sole accredited union of teachers all over the country, we
are confident that we represent the demands of our sector.”
“We remain steadfast on our call for a P30,000 salary for Teacher I,
P31,000 for Instructor I, and P16,000 for salary grade 1 employees.
We also call on the President to immediately effect a P3,000
increase in our personnel economic relief allowance (PERA),” urged
The group also proposed some potential sources of funds for the
increase, which included “the presidential pork, road users’ tax,
flood control projects, P75 billion worth of last-minute insertions
to the 2019 budget, tokhang and war funds,” among others.
“If the government were to truly be earnest in its efforts and wield
its power and authority to serve the people, then nothing is
impossible. The pay hike of teachers and other workers can be
implemented in no time. Until then, we shall carry on the fight,”
closes 2018 with 4.4% inflation rate
January 15, 2019
TACLOBAN CITY –
Eastern Visayas closed 2018 with a 4.4% Inflation Rate (IR). This IR
is 0.8 percentage point lower compared with the 5.2% IR a month ago,
but 1.1 percentage points higher than the recorded 3.3% IR in the
same period last year. The regional inflation rate was 0.7
percentage point lower than the 5.1% national average in December
All provinces registered
lower inflation rates in December 2018 compared with their figures
in the previous month. Samar posted the highest decrease at 1.8
percentage points, from 7.4% in November 2018 to 5.6% in December
2018. The rest of the provinces registered decreases ranging from
0.2 to 1.6 percentage points. Eastern Samar recorded the highest IR
at 7.6%, while Biliran posted the lowest at 1.7%.
Among the commodity
groups, transport registered the highest decrease of 3.7 percentage
points. It was posted at 3.0% in December 2018 from 6.7% in November
2018. This can be attributed to the huge decrease in the index of
operation of personal transport equipment.
The heavily weighted food
and non-alcoholic beverages eased down to 6.0% in December 2018 from
its previous month’s rate of 7.4%, a decrease of 1.4 percentage
points. This can be traced to slower price increases of majority of
the food items. Rice index registered the highest decrease at 3.2
percentage points, from 8.4% in November 2018 to 5.2% in December
2018. Fish index continued to have a double digit inflation rate at
10.2%, despite shedding off 2.0 percentage points from its figure a
month ago. It also posted the highest among all food items.
Inflation rate for
alcoholic beverages and tobacco also went down by 0.2 percentage
point but still recorded double digit IR at 20.4%, the highest among
Meanwhile, health index
increased to 3.7% during the reference month, 1.3 percentage points
higher compared with the 2.4% IR in November 2018. This can be
attributed to the increase in the index for hospital services.
The Purchasing Power of
Peso (PPP) of the region was recorded at P0.81 in December 2018,
slightly stronger than the P0.80 PPP a month ago. This PPP implies
that goods and services worth 100 pesos in December 2018 only costs
81 pesos in 2012.
Biliran, Northern Samar
and Samar registered a 0.01 centavo increase in PPP compared with
their figures in November 2018, while the rest of the provinces had
retained their previous month’s PPP. Leyte and Biliran recorded the
strongest PPP at P0.83. Southern Leyte ranked second at P0.81,
followed by Eastern Samar at P0.78. Northern Samar and Samar posted
the weakest PPP at P0.76.
CPP NPA terrorists in Samar
803rd Infantry Brigade,
January 13, 2019
CAMP SUMOROY, Catarman,
Northern Samar – Army troops operating in Samar Province
encountered CPP NPA Terrorists (CNTs) in a remote area in Barangay
Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar on January 12, 2019 at around 6:50 in the
In a report from Lt. Col.
Rizaldo N. Laurena, Commanding Officer of the 63rd Infantry
(Innovator) Battalion based in Barangay Erenas, San Jorge, Samar,
his troops were on their way to Barangay Bay-ang when they chanced
upon a group of fully armed CNTs operating in the area that
triggered a brief firefight and an explosion.
After the encounter, nine
soldiers were slightly wounded due to shrapnels from the blast while
there are undetermined casualties on the side of the enemy. The
wounded troops were evacuated to the nearest hospital for their
In his statement, Brig.
Gen. Ramil M. Bitong said that “the encounter in San Jorge is a
significant accomplishment against the CNTs. As of this report, our
troops are pursuing the main body of the fleeing CNTs, comprised of
the EVRPC leadership. Our sources disclosed that the CNTs were
planning to launch tactical offensives throughout Region 8. Another
desperate attempt of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee to
stay relevant by sowing fear and discontent among the residents of
Region 8. This prompted the brigade to launch an offensive against
them. The reliable reports of the residents of Barangays Bay-ang and
Mobo-ob both of San Jorge and Brgy Beri of Motiong, who were
complaining of the CNT abuses against them helped the government
troops to close in on them.
The Brigade and the whole
Team 8ID will be always ready to help our people. We are committed
to stop the EVRPC's reign of terror in Region 8. Lastly, we appeal
to the remaining NPA's and all misguided citizens who still support
them to stop their activities and join the rest of society. Don’t be
deceived.” Gen. Bitong added.
Work from home is
timely, beneficial to workers and business; Good for PWDs, women
January 11, 2019
QUEZON CITY – The
country’s largest workers group Trade Union Congress of the
Philippines (TUCP) applauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing
into law a measure allowing workers to work from home as alternative
work arrangement in the light of heavy traffic congestion and poor
mass transport system.
“After pending in both
congress for so many congresses, Duterte’s signing into law allowing
workers to work from home alternative work arrangement finally sets
the clear parameters for both employees and employers who wants to
jointly practice the scheme. This alternative work scheme will
benefit both employers and their employees,” TUCP President Raymond
He said those who work
from home would be able save from transport and food costs.
Employees would also be able to minimize stress caused by traffic
congestion and ageing mass transport system.
Employers meanwhile would
be able to minimize operational costs and ensure higher productivity
from home working employee.
This will also widen the
employment horizons for Person with Disabilities, senior citizens
and working mothers who need not to report at work.
According to Mendoza, the
alternative work arrangement will not change the 8-hour standard
working time. There is also no diminution of wages and benefits
including overtime pay, sick leave, maternity leave and all other
benefits that employees have been receiving.
However, these rights must
be ensured in the drafting of its Implementing Rules and Regulations
spearheaded by the Labor department, workers and employers groups
particularly workers' right to form a union and collectively bargain
are complied with.
Mendoza expects the IRR
finished by March this year.
On one hand, the work from
home arrangement is not applicable in other industries particularly
those working manufacturing and services sector.
Save the Children
Philippines welcomes new law allowing 15 years old and above to get
tested for HIV without consent of parents, guardians
January 11, 2019
MAKATI CITY – Save
the Children Philippines welcomed the signing of the law that
finally allows minors aged 15 years and above to get tested for HIV
without consent from parents or guardians.
Lawyer Albert Muyot, Chief
Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines said the new “HIV
and AIDS Policy Act” or Republic Act 1116 signed by President
Duterte on December 20, 2018 amended RA 8504 or the Philippine AIDS
Prevention and Control Act that requires all minors to get a consent
from parents or guardians before they can undergo an HIV test.
Muyot said the law
recognizes the rights of children to health and protection from HIV.
He said giving minors aged
15 years old and above access to HIV testing is consistent with the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child where the
government exercises responsibility to protect and assist families
to nurture their children.
The new law allows minors
aged 15-17 years old access to undergo voluntary HIV testing without
parental consent, which was previously required under RA 8504.
Muyot welcomed provisions
in the new HIV law that highlights participatory rights of children
where their views are respected, “when adults are making decisions
that affect children.”
Section 29 of the new HIV
law allows any young person aged 15 and below who is pregnant or
engaged in high risk behavior to access HIV testing and counseling
with assistance from a licensed social worker or health worker.
When parents or guardians
cannot be located or refuses to give consent, the minor aged 15
years old and below can still access HIV test and counseling through
a consent from a social worker or health worker. “To protect the
best interest of the child, the assent of the minor shall also be
required prior to the testing,” said RA 1116, Section 29.
He said the new law is
aligned with Article 5 of the UN convention that encourages parents
to deal with rights issues "in a manner consistent with the evolving
capacities of the child.”
The Philippines is one of
the countries with the highest number of HIV cases in the world,
with an average of 32 persons getting diagnosed with HIV daily.
Latest figures from the
Department of Health showed that there are 1,072 new cases of HIV in
the Philippines as of October 2018, with 306 of them young people
aged 15 to 24.
The percentage of youth
getting infected with HIV has ballooned to 29 per cent from 13 per
cent over the last decade.
“The steady rise of HIV
cases among minors has been a cause for alarm since they cannot open
up to their parents and guardians and get treatment due to social
stigma,” said Muyot.
The lack of access to
testing centers without consent from parents and guardians has
deepened the problem as minors continue to contract and spread HIV.
Save the Children
Philippines, in partnership with Global Fund implements an HIV
prevention project targeting key populations of men who have sex
with men, transgender women, people who inject drugs and young key
The project assists in
setting up community HIV centers in addition to Social Hygiene
Clinics in different localities that provide free access to
HIV-related services. The project also employs community health
workers who conduct testing among target communities and facilitate
enrollment to treatment of those who test positive.
Save the Children
Philippines joined the Committee on Children and HIV/AIDS (ComCHA)
being led by the Council for the Welfare of Children in pushing for
the “Proxy Consent Protocol” that allows those 18 years old and
below to get HIV test through a consent from a health or social
The passage of the new HIV
law means that the protocol will only be needed for those who are
“The issue of HIV/AIDS is
a global health concern that can only be addressed with measures
that respect the rights of people especially minors to access health
services such as HIV testing and treatment,” said Muyot.
New SEC memo on
non-profit organizations violates right to organize - Karapatan
January 9, 2019
QUEZON CITY –
Surreptitiously, without consultation with many non-profit
organizations, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued SEC
Memorandum Circular No. 15 (s. 2018) or the Guidelines for the
Protection of SEC Registered Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) From
Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Abuse or the NPO Guidelines
on November 7, 2018.
At first glance, the said
memorandum seems like an innocuous set of guidelines to supposedly
“protect non-profit organizations from money laundering and
terrorist financing abuse.” However, considering the context of the
worsening human rights situation, including the increasingly
dangerous situation of human rights defenders, and the climate of
impunity in the Philippines, SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15 merits
As it is, human rights
defenders face greater risks under the Duterte administration.
Karapatan notes that at least 139 human rights defenders have been
killed from July 2016 to November 2018. UN Special Rapporteur on
Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst, in his World Report on the
situation of human rights defenders, has noted that in the
Philippines, the “government’s war on drugs has created a climate of
insecurity and impunity for extrajudicial killings that affects
human rights defenders.” Forst also observed that Duterte’s has
fostered a “very harmful rhetoric against human rights defenders,"
labelling them as “anti-nation,” “protectors of drug lords,”
“communists,” “terrorists,” among others.
Recently, a slew of such
rhetoric has resulted in killings of farmworkers and a human rights
lawyer in Negros, arbitrary arrests on trumped up charges of peace
advocates, peasant organizers and leaders, harassment of human
rights workers, and profiling and surveillance of teachers.
A closer look and analysis
reveal that the latest set of guidelines by SEC is one that
infringes on non-governmental organizations’ rights to organize and
form associations, specifically on their freedom or capacity to
freely conduct or perform their advocacies, as well as the right to
privacy of the officers, members, clients or beneficiaries of any of
those considered as non-profit organizations. This new memorandum is
an extension of the mounting repressive policies insidiously
implemented by the Duterte government in installments, so as not to
betray its real intent of curbing all platforms for dissent.
With the said recent SEC
Guidelines, the Commission is given unchecked discretion to
determine and identify those whom it considers “NPOs at Risk.” No
clear parameters have been stated, other than a very arbitrary
classification of NPOs as “low risk,” “medium risk,” “high risk,” or
“blacklisted.” Determination of which NPO will be classified as such
also rests on information provided by government agencies such as
the Philippine National Police. This renders progressive
organizations at risk, particularly those openly red-tagged by the
PNP and the Duterte government as “legal fronts.”
Through SEC Memorandum
Circular No. 15, the SEC and government authorities are given
unbridled power to compel disclosure of numerous information on
non-government organizations, without a court order, including
information on the location of beneficiaries or projects, areas of
operation or activity, identities and locations of persons or
entities who provide financial support for the NPO or are its
intended beneficiaries. According to the guidelines, such
information will be shared and made accessible to government
agencies such as the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation.
With the express provision in the said memorandum on the SEC’s
powers to enlist the aid, support and/or deputize any and all
enforcement agencies of the government, civil or MILITARY, for the
purpose of conducting investigations and information gathering,
there is great danger that the SEC will be used for profiling,
intelligence-gathering, surveillance, harassment and other possible
grave violations against NGOs.
Through the said
memorandum, the SEC is given control of all non-profit organizations
in the country, as it is weaponized to infringe on the freedom and
capacity of these organizations to freely conduct or perform their
Karapatan thus calls for
the scrapping or rescinding of SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15 as a
measure that is directly inconsistent to the government’s duty to
uphold the right to organize and privacy of all citizens, including
the rights of human rights defenders against any form of
interference or reprisal on their work. Such an arbitrary yet
powerful memorandum will provide justification for a new form of
witch-hunt, albeit still with the same targets. Such regulations
will inevitably impede the work of human rights defenders, aid and
development workers and other non-profit/non-government
organizations and will surely result in the further constriction of
civic space in the Philippines.