launch Year 2 of educational assistance to Olango SHS scholars
December 5, 2018
CEBU CITY – As the
youngest of seven children, 18-year-old April Mae Siton wanted to
finish her senior high school (SHS) education without relying too
much on her aging parents.
For years, her father, a
fisherman, and her mother who works as a shell accessories worker,
have been trying to make ends meet so her siblings can finish their
studies and have a better life. To help lessen the cost of her
studies, she took up a Senior High School (SHS) strand that had the
least expenses, Food and Beverage Services (FBS). She also worked
part-time jobs to be able to help her parents pay for school
“My original dream was to
become a police officer or a seaman. But I no longer wanted to
burden to my parents and siblings for my expenses even if they
wanted to support me. My parents are already old and my older
siblings have their own families already so I do not want to depend
too much on them, especially with my plan to pursue college. FBS was
the most ideal choice,” Siton added.
Luckily, Siton’s plans
were answered when she was selected as one of the scholars of a
one-year scholarship assistance from PBSP and corporate sponsors
through the Olango Challenge, an open-water swimming event held
every May that raises funds for education programs on Olango island.
PBSP, Olango Challenge
corporate donors, and DepEd officially launched a one-year
educational assistance project that will support 100 junior and
senior high school scholars of Sta. Rosa National High School. The
event also witnessed the ceremonial turnover of laboratory equipment
for the Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) course in the school.
“This is a dream come true
for me to become a scholar because I really tried my best to be
chosen. Now, I can fulfill my future dreams because of this
financial assistance without burdening my parents,” Siton added.
Aid for a Hundred Students
Sta. Rosa NHS is one of
the three senior high schools located within the island. Most of its
students face financial difficulties that prevent them from
continuing their SHS education, especially that Technical-Vocational
Livelihood track (TVL) mostly requires students to purchase
materials for their school projects. The school’s effective
implementation of its TVL curriculum is also hampered by the
shortage of facilities and equipment.
“We chose to continue our
assistance to Sta. Rosa NHS because it focuses on providing
Technical Vocational Livelihood (TVL). If we want our students to
gain holistic understanding and appreciation in their chosen
strands, its shortages need to be addressed. We also want the
students to learn skills that match most of the industry
requirements in Mactan and the rest of Cebu,” PBSP trustee and
Visayas Executive Committee Chairman Jose Antonio Aboitiz said.
The scholarship assistance
includes the monthly transportation and project allowances,
registration fees for National Certification assessments, and
employment assistance for students wanting to find jobs after
graduation. The provision of tools and equipment for the SMAW
laboratory, on the other hand, aims to contribute to the improved
curriculum delivery of the school and strengthen the students’
competencies. Tools and equipment include coveralls and uniforms,
leather gloves, respiratory masks, welding rods and shields, work
suits and gloves, angle grinders, and cutting and grinding disks.
“Some of you will choose
to work immediately after you graduate. Some of you will go on to
further studies. We hope that the assistance that we provide you
helps to lighten your load and lets you concentrate on the skills
that you are learning and the education that you are getting from
the school,” Aboitiz added.
Present during the program
launch were Oriental Port and Allied Services Corporation (OPASCOR)
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tomas Riveral, GMR Megawide
Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) Junior Manager for Corporate
Communications and CSR Avigael Maningo, and Aboitiz who distributed
certificates and allowance vouchers to the scholars.
Building Schools through
the Olango Challenge
This is the 11th year that
PBSP has continuously poured in support for Olango island schools
through the Olango Challenge. Since the event’s launch in 2008, it
has built nine classrooms for Olango’s elementary schools and
provided educational assistance to 190 SHS students.
This is the second year
that PBSP provided educational assistance to the SHS students
through the Olango Challenge proceeds. Major sponsors for this
year’s Olango Challenge include the Aboitiz & Company, Dow Chemicals
Philippines, Inc., GMCAC, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc., and
“We hope that by providing
them with these interventions, the students will successfully pass
their subjects, perform well, and access better job opportunities
after graduating from senior high school,” Aboitiz added.
THE PROMISE. Leah Dinglasan, 41, fulfills the dream and her
promise to husband Marine Technical Sergeant Aldrin Cadiz
Dinglasan to grow the business the soldier has started.
October 19, 2018
LIPA, Batangas –
Leah Dinglasan stares blankly in the distance, wondering what
happened to her husband, Marine Technical Sergeant Aldrin Cadiz
Dinglasan, and if he is ever coming back.
This has been her routine
ever since she lost her husband during the five-month siege in
Marawi City after an ISIS-affiliated group from Mindanao took over
While Leah keeps herself
busy in managing the business her husband has left her, the widow is
still coping with her loss.
“Mahirap, siyempre iniisip
ko parin siya. Pero tuloy lang ang buhay,” Leah said, adding that
she was left to care for their three children.
Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan, 41,
was already three days into the siege after a sniper bullet struck
his cheek on May 31, 2018. Moments before his death, he called Leah
that once he returns from his tour of duty, they would manage
together the small sari-sari store business they had started.
The soldier was set to
retire after his Marawi duty.
After receiving a call and
hearing the news of the soldier’s demise from his commander, Leah
was at first in disbelief. She argued that he just called moments
Leah narrated how Tech.
Sgt. Dinglasan’s body can’t be recovered due to heavy firing from
enemy snipers. His body was recovered three days after his death.
Back in March 2017, the
couple started a small variety store business for their family’s
upkeep and finance their children’s studies.
With P20,000 in hand,
Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan bankrolled the variety store and started the
business before leaving for his tour of duty.
Leah was left to manage
the business, while her husband is in Marawi City.
The couple hoped that
soon, once he retires, they would grow the business into a
After her husband’s death,
Leah received assistance from the government in various forms and
from the private sector.
Leah in March 2018
received a P100,000 loan assistance from the Small Business
Corporation (SB Corp.) under its special program, Wounded-and-Killed
in Action (WIA-KIA), an offshoot program to help soldiers and police
who were either killed or wounded during the Marawi conflict, from
the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) micro loan program.
“Mayroon ding pension from
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Veterans Affairs
Office, Employees Compensation Commission, financial and educational
assistance para sa mga anak namin, at mayroon din galing sa private
sector,” Leah added.
With the livelihood
assistance she received, Leah made a few changes in the store,
enlarging it and adding more supplies.
Five months after she
received the financial assistance, the store is now worth P150,000,
a 50% increase in capital.
On casual days, Leah could
earn P8,000 while the minimum she could earn is P3,000 on Mondays.
“Minsan kumikita ako ng
P8,000, yun na ang pinakamalaki. Pero kapag Monday, kumikita lang
ako ng P3,000,” she offered.
Leah explained that it was
Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan’s dream for the business to grow.
“Ang sabi niya sakin “Ma,
gusto ko yung tindahan natin magsimula sa maliit. Gusto ko
palalakihin natin. Hindi yung tulad noong dati na kaunti lang yung
laman ng tindahan natin,”” she said, holding back tears.
She also hopes that after
she completes the payment for the P100,000 loan from SB Corp., she
can borrow money from the P3 program to expand her business.
While she understands that
her husband is gone, Leah is still grateful to Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan
that despite knowing that she won’t share the accomplishment with
him, he had left her and their children something that they will
“Gusto kong magpasalamat
sa nasa ‘Itaas’ at sa asawa ko, dahil hindi niya kami pinabayaan,”
Sumangan, her husband and their seven children have been in
Saguiaran evacuation center for a year. She says life in the
evacuation center is difficult. They are patiently waiting
for government’s advice on where they should go next.
/ R. Hashempour)
One year on, longing and uncertainty for displaced families
May 23, 2018
MANILA – Around
230,000 people remain displaced and in need of stronger support one
year after armed conflict broke out in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur,
“Efforts to rehabilitate
Marawi and assist its people must be stepped up to reduce the
suffering of thousands of those who were displaced over the past
year. The efforts are there, but these must match the growing needs
of those who face prolonged displacement and are close to despair,”
said Pascal Porchet, head of the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) delegation in the Philippines.
With the response shifting
from emergency phase towards early recovery, food donations have
dwindled and livelihood opportunities are reaching only a few.
Majority of displaced families still depend on relatives or friends
for support, while those in evacuation sites continue to struggle
with poor living conditions in makeshift camps, increasing their
risk of illness.
“It has been a year since
the armed clashes began and we still don’t know what lies ahead. I’m
starting to feel the weight of it, and there are times when I feel
like giving up. But for the sake of my children, I strive to stay
strong,” said Diane Sumangan, an evacuee in Saguiaran. She is a
resident of Bubonga Marawi, one of the 24 villages in the main area
affected by the clashes.
The displaced families,
added Porchet, struggle to feed their families, buy medicines or
resume their small businesses due to lack of livelihood
opportunities or capital. Uncertainty about the future has added to
Authorities estimate that
65,000 residents from the main area where structures were reduced to
rubble will be unable to return home for the next two to three
years. The transitional site in Sagonsongan, Marawi City, can only
accommodate 6,000 of them.
“The ICRC remains
committed to supporting those who fled the fighting, and to do more
by addressing gaps in the overall early recovery response, in
coordination with the authorities and other aid organizations,”
“But, it is primarily the
authorities’ role to assist people affected by conflict. The pending
issues concerning the transitional site such as lack of regular
supply of water and absence of proper sewage collection and
treatment should be resolved soon,” he stressed.
about the pain of people whose loved ones went missing during the
fighting, the ICRC and Philippine Red Cross (PRC) are following up
on the cases of more than 100 families with the aim of tracing the
whereabouts of their missing kin.
“We are stepping up
efforts to accompany and support these families. There is a need for
a neutral and independent organization such as the Red Cross to work
in this field. We encourage those with information about missing
people in Marawi to approach the Red Cross,” said Adriana Uribe
Villa, who leads the ICRC’s response in Marawi.
The ICRC has been
supporting the Management of the Dead and Missing Cluster since the
start of the crisis for the retrieval, management and identification
of human remains.
Ever since clashes broke
out in May 2017, the ICRC together with the PRC has been helping
thousands of people affected by the Marawi crisis. It is now
focusing its efforts to help the remaining displaced families in
Marawi and in Lanao del Sur by improving their access to health care
and clean water and by supporting their livelihood recovery efforts.
“We plan to direct our
assistance to certain high-security areas of Lanao del Sur, where
the ICRC has access thanks to its links established with the
community and non-state armed groups,” said Uribe Villa.
The ICRC is a neutral,
impartial and independent humanitarian organization whose
exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity
of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to
provide them with assistance. It has an international mandate to
promote knowledge for and respect of international humanitarian law.
Highlights of the
2016 List of Establishments (LE)
March 14, 2018
TACLOBAN CITY –
About 27,834 operating establishments in Eastern Visayas were listed
in the 2016 List of Establishments (LE). The region accounted for
3.0 percent of the country’s total number of establishments.
Eastern Visayas ranked
fifth among the regions with low number of establishments.
By province, Leyte
recorded the highest number of establishments at 14,598 which
accounted for more than half (52.4%) of the total establishments in
the region. Western Samar ranked second highest with 3,646
establishments or 13.1% of the region’s total number of
establishments. Northern Samar ranked third highest with 3,521
establishments or 12.6% share to the total number of establishments
in the region. Southern Leyte contributed 10.0% with 2,784
establishments. Eastern Samar shared 8.4% with 2,336 establishments.
Biliran, meanwhile, recorded the least number of establishments at
949 accounting for 3.4%.
Almost half (49.9%) or
13,883 establishments in the region were engaged in Wholesale and
Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles (Section G).
Next in rank in terms of the number of establishments was
Manufacturing (Section C) contributing 14.8% or 4,120
establishments, and on the third rank was Accommodation and Food
Service Activities (Section I) with 3,189 establishments or 11.5% of
the total establishments in the region. With less than 50
establishments, Mining and Quarrying (Section B) and Water Supply;
Sewerage, Waste Management and Remediation Activities (Section E)
had the least with only 29 and 39 establishments, respectively, or
0.1% share each of the total number of establishments in 2016.
In terms of major industry
grouping: there were 341 establishments engaged in Agriculture
(Section A); 4,326 were engaged in Industry (Sections B to F); and
23,167 were engaged in Services (Sections G to S). These imply that,
for every 100 establishments, about 83 were engaged in Services, 16
were engaged in Industry and only 1 was engaged in Agriculture.
By Legal Organization
Majority (87.6%) or 24,392
establishments in 2016 were owned by single proprietors. Stock
Corporations reached 2,431 establishments or 8.7% of the total
establishments in the region. Cooperative accounted for 1.5% or 417
establishments, while Non-Stock, Non-Profit Corporation had 1.4% or
379 establishments. The rest of the establishments were categorized
as follows: Partnership (0.4%); Government Corporation (0.3%); and
By Economic Organization
About 8 in every 10
(80.7%) establishments in the region were classified as ‘single
establishment’ in 2016. The number of branches listed was 4,202
which accounted for 15.1% of the total number of establishments. On
the other hand, only 22 or 0.1% were classified as ‘main office
only’, 967 or 3.5% were classified as ‘establishment and main office
in the same address’. The remaining 174 or 0.6% were classified as
By Employment Grouping
By employment grouping,
medium (with employment of 100 to 199) and large establishments
(with employment of 200 and over) combined comprised less than 1.0%
of the total number of establishments in the region. Majority
(93.0%) or 25,878 establishments were classified as micro (with
employment of 1 to 9). Small establishments (with employment of 10
to 99) reached 1,871 or 6.7% of the total establishments.
In 2016, a total of
134,476 employees were employed by the operating establishments in
Eastern Visayas. The region accounted for 1.7% of the total
employment in the country.
Eastern Visayas ranked
sixth among the regions with low number of employees.
By province, Leyte
recorded the highest employment at 80,126 which accounted for more
than half (59.6%) of the total employment in the region. Western
Samar ranked second highest with 16,878 employees or 12.6% of the
region’s total employment. Southern Leyte ranked third highest with
12,352 employees or 9.2% share to the total employment of the
region. Northern Samar contributed 9.1% with 12,243 employees.
Eastern Samar shared 6.8% with 9,179 employees. Biliran, meanwhile,
recorded the least employment at 3,698 accounting for 2.7%.
Employment by Section
In 2016, Wholesale and
Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles (Section G)
surpassed other sectors with generated employment of 53,438, almost
two-fifths (39.7%) of the total employment in the region.
The Manufacturing (Section
C) ranked second which employed 19,511 persons or 14.5% of the total
employment in the region. Third in rank was Accommodation and Food
Service Activities (Section I) with 13,589 work force or 10.1% share
to the total employment in 2016.
The least contributor was
Mining and Quarrying (Section B) which generated 276 employment or
only 0.2% of the total regional employment.
By major industry, a total
of 102,371 persons were employed by the Services sectors which
comprised 76.1% of the recorded total employment in the region. The
Industry sectors employed 27,100 persons or 20.1% of the total
employment. The lowest was the employment generated by the
Agriculture sector with only 5,005 employees or 3.7% of the total
Average Employment per Establishment
The Average Employment per
Establishment in the region was recorded at 5 employees per
By province, Leyte and
Western Samar recorded the highest Average Employment per
Establishment at 5 employees per establishment. Biliran, Eastern
Samar, and Southern Leyte followed with an average employment of 4
employees per establishment. Northern Samar, meanwhile, recorded the
lowest at 3 employees per establishment.
Average Employment per Establishment by Section
The three sections with
the biggest average employment per establishment were: Electricity,
Gas, Steam, and Air Conditioning Supply (Section D) with an average
of 67 employees per establishment; Water Supply; Sewerage, Waste
Management and Remediation Activities (Section E) with an average of
31 employees per establishment and; Construction (Section F) with an
average of 28 employees per establishment.
On the other hand,
Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities (Section M); Arts,
Entertainment, and Recreation (Section R) and; Other Service
Activities (Section S) recorded the lowest average employment per
establishment at 3 employees per establishment.
In terms of major industry
grouping, Agriculture sector had the highest average employees per
establishment at 15 employees per establishment. The Industry and
Services sectors had 6 and 4 average employees per establishments,
A Paper by the Asian Human
Declaration on right to justice - right to an effective remedy for
violations of human rights in terms of Article 2 of the ICCPR
A supplement to the Asian
Human Rights Charter launched in Gwangju, South Korea on 17 May,
March 5, 2018
The Asian Human Rights Commission (Hong Kong) and the May 18
Memorial Foundation (Gwangju, South Korea) are presenting herewith
the working draft of the Asian declaration on the right to justice –
right to an effective remedy for human rights violations in terms of
Article 2 of the ICCPR with a view to encourage a wide discussion of
the issues raised in this declaration. Together with this, we will
also be presenting Asian declarations on the right to peace and the
right to culture.
These documents are prepared on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary
of the Asian Human Rights Charter that was launched at Gwangju,
South Korea on May 17 1998. A large number of organisations
including the AHRC has worked for the past 20 years to spread the
message of the Asian Human Rights Charter and have also worked on
the principles enunciated in the Asian Human Rights Charter to
provide effective remedies to human rights violations in Asia.
In the course of this work, we have been able to gain extensive
knowledge about the obstacles that exist in most of the Asian
countries that obstructs the actual implementation of human rights.
The result is that human rights covenants and conventions merely
remain as documents without the possibility of its practical
implementation. For the people living in Asia the possibilities of
seeking an effective remedy through their national justice framework
for the violations of human rights does not exist.
It is under these circumstances that the work for this declaration
was undertaken with the view to identify all major obstacles that
prevents the realisation of the human rights and therefore
frustrates the efforts of the people to improve the achievement of
their rights. This declaration is based on the belief that the
protection and promotion of human rights as envisaged in the UN
covenants and conventions will become possible only if the
governments that are signatories to these documents comply with the
requirements of Article 2 of the ICCPR that requires states should
take measures to provide for legislative, judicial and
administrative measures required for the realisation of universal
human rights. Therefore, all efforts for the promotion and
protection of human rights should be concentrated towards achieving
In developed countries when a state becomes the signatory to a UN
convention, the implementation process automatically follows through
the justice mechanisms that exists in these countries. However, this
is not the case in Asia. In fact, the opposite is the case where the
defects in the existing system of justice obstructs the
possibilities of enjoyment of these rights.
It is with the view to bring about corrective action to the existing
situation that this draft declaration is presented so that after
extensive discussions an Asian declaration on the right to justice
could be arrived at. We therefore urge everyone to take an active
interest in this discussion.
The draft declaration that is presented here is not exhaustive.
There could be many aspects that are to be added to this draft. We
welcome all suggestions to improve this draft declaration. The AHRC
and the May 18 Memorial Foundation draws inspiration for this work
from the boundless attempts made by the people in Asia to have their
Victims of violations of human rights are constantly struggling to
find genuine solutions to their problems. We are also inspired by
great struggles for freedom that has taken place in Asia among which
the struggle by the citizens of Gwangju in 1980 stands out as one of
the great inspirations. The realisation of the Gwangju spirit
requires all people should be able to enjoy their rights through
protective mechanisms provided by their justice systems.
+ + + + + + + +
A supplement to the Asian Human Rights Charter launched in 1998
This declaration is to be launched on the 20th anniversary of
launching of the Asian Human Rights Charter (A People’s Charter)
OUR COMMON HUMANITY
Asian Declaration on Right to Justice - Right to an effective remedy
for violations of human rights in terms of Article 2 of the ICCPR
Article 2 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights requires that all state parties who become signatories to the
United Nations covenants should ensure that all those who suffer
violations of such rights have access to an effective remedy. The
absence of an effective remedy for the violation of a right makes
that right virtually insignificant and lacking in any practical
However, in many Asian countries, as in many less developed
countries around the world, the ratification of UN Conventions -
including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -
has not been followed by steps to ensure that the rights enshrined
therein can be practically realised within those jurisdictions.
The implementation of a right guaranteed under international and
domestic law, by way of constitutional or statutory provisions, is
negated in its practical impact when the actual machinery of
implementation (the system of administration of justice in the
country) does not provide the means by which to implement the right.
The usual mechanisms through which rights are enforced are
investigations into violations of rights through the policing
system, the prosecutions of those responsible for the violation
through the relevant justice department of the government (in some
Asian countries, this is the Attorney General’s Department), and the
adjudication of the violation and granting of relief where the
violation has been proven through the judicial branch. The denial of
an effective remedy for human rights violations is largely a result
of the defects of those three agencies: that is, the police as
investigators; the prosecutors as those who file and pursue a
prosecution in court; and the judicial system itself.
The defects in these systems with regards to investigations into
violations of rights mean there are frequently improper
investigations, or none at all and thereby denial of fair trial:
Failure to investigate
The non-investigation of human rights violations could occur due to
the following factors:
A common problem is that the police can refuse to or otherwise fail
to register a person’s complaint about the violation of his or her
right. The initial step in investigating into the violation of a
right is the proper recording of the complaint and of the evidence
of relevant witnesses. Failure to record a victim or witness’
statement may occur for many reasons. In many cases, police
blatantly refuse to record victims’ complaints and statements.
This often takes place in periods where serious violations such as
enforced disappearances, other forms of extra-judicial killings, or
torture are widespread. In such a climate, police authorities are
reluctant to take down the statements of the complainants. The
blatant denial of the right to make a complaint is itself a serious
denial of the rights enshrined in the UN Conventions and (in
particular) those in the International Covenant on Civil and
It is also a violation of human rights to file false charges, which
is often done with the intention of detaining a person arbitrarily.
Such persons are also denied bail for long periods of time. This
practice amounts to false imprisonment. Fake charges are often filed
against persons who are treated as politically unacceptable or when
law enforcement agencies want to arbitrarily punish someone for
The filing of such fake charges is the result of manipulation of the
criminal justice system for unlawful and immoral purposes. Such
practices become possible only when the superior officers in charge
of the law enforcement agencies do not carry out their supervisory
functions with due diligence, and/or on occasions when such superior
officers themselves are abusing the systems of arrests and
prosecutions. The lower judiciary also often fail in their duty to
oversee such cases and ensure that powers of arrest and detention
are not misused.
Illegal arrest and detention
Illegal arrest and detention are fundamental violations of basic
human rights. An arrest should only take place on reasonable
grounds, which requires a thorough investigation and adequate
evidence to produce a person before the relevant court pending
trial. Every other form of arrest is illegal. Where illegal arrests
have been conducted, it is the duty of the Magistrates to punish the
officers who have done so, as well as to order compensation for the
victim. Likewise, when a magistrate notices that someone has been
arrested and detained illegally, it is their duty to act immediately
to ensure that the person is released from detention.
Law enforcement agencies must maintain proper written records of all
complaints and actions taken during investigations. Tampering with
or fabricating official records of complaints and investigations
with the purpose of illegally imprisoning a person is also a
violation of human rights. It is the duty of the superior officers
of law enforcement agencies to ensure that the records relating to
complaints and investigations are safely and securely maintained and
Fabrication of charges
The criminal justice process is severely undermined when charges are
deliberately fabricated. The process of investigation and trial are
used against individuals in order to settle personal or political
grudges. In some cases, people are psychologically harassed by being
told that there are pending criminal investigations against them.
These alleged investigations go on for long periods, until the
victims themselves approach the courts so that they can defend
themselves and seek redress. Thereafter, false charges are
officially filed against those individuals.
Trials are delayed for a long period of time, often for many years,
with the view to deny the accused a fair trial. Such manipulations
of the criminal justice process represent a gross violation of a
nation state’s obligation to protect its citizens’ rights. The
damage done by such actions affects not only the individuals
concerned and their families, but also society as a whole, as people
lose confidence in the criminal justice process in face of such
There should be a remedy in the criminal procedure law and practice
guidelines for when the criminal justice process is manipulated in
this manner. Avenues must be available for such types of concerns to
be brought to judicial notice as soon as possible. Subsequently, the
judiciary should act promptly to remedy the manipulation of the
criminal justice process itself.
Statutory provisions should be created to make violations of
individual rights in this manner easily reportable to independent
authorities. This is necessary so that all perpetrators, including
superior officers who failed in their supervisory functions relating
to the proper administration of the criminal justice process, can be
brought to trial for hindering or corrupting the very process the
administration of justice.
Access to effective remedies for violations of human rights is
blocked when the principle of the separation of powers is
In many countries in Asia, the principle of the separation of powers
has been undermined over recent decades. This has happened for a
variety of reasons. Some countries do not accept the principle of
separation of powers and, as a result, the judiciary is not capable
of ensuring an effective remedy for human rights violations. In
these countries, the only legitimised power is that of the
executive. If the actions of the executive lead to violations of the
rights of the individual, only the executive can take corrective
action. However, the undermining or rejection of the principle of
separation of powers implies that the executive does not recognize
the existence of individual rights. Even if the executive makes
declarations about the recognition of such human rights and signs
and ratifies the UN Conventions to that effect, these declarations
and laws do not have any practical value in that system for
protecting people when the executive violates their rights.
Therefore, in any discourse on ensuring the effective implementation
of human rights, it is essential to identify the rejection or
undermining of the separation of powers as a central issue. Where
the judiciary does not have the actual power and capacity to
override the actions of the executive when the law is broken, it
means that the basic structure of that particular state does not
allow the judiciary to protect basic human rights.
In fact, the very idea individuals having rights requires that those
rights are recognized when power is exercised by all the organs of
the state, which requires that the judiciary is the final arbiter on
matters relating to the protection of the rights of the people.
Therefore, the actual and practical existence of the separation of
powers principle is a core element of the basic structure of any
state capable of protecting individual rights.
Unchecked executive actions, as well as restrictions on the
judiciary’s capacity to protect individual rights through the
judicial review of legislation and executive actions, should be
treated as key obstacles to human rights. All such restrictions must
be removed if human rights are to be practically realized within the
framework of the state.
It is not enough for the constitution of a country to mention that
the separation of powers principle is part of the constitutional
structure. Rather, a constitution must clearly state how such a
separation will be enforced and maintained. This includes outlining
how the judiciary will act as an effective, independent, and
impartial body both in its capacity as a check on executive powers,
as well as in its role as a protector of individual human rights.
There must be provisions that articulate how the principle of the
separation of powers is entrenched, and in particular how the
independent and impartial exercise of judicial power is ensured
protected from any kind of displacement. These aspects of a
constitutional structure should be regarded as a part of the basic
structure of the state and therefore considered immune to executive
and legislative interference.
The law should ensure that there is no room for interference with
the independence and impartiality of judicial officers, nor with the
processes of appointments, promotions, disciplinary control, and
dismissal of judicial officers. It is of paramount importance that
people view judges of the superior courts as not being subjected to
undue restraints relating to their judicial powers to protect and
maintain individual citizen rights. An independent and impartial
judicial system must always be safeguarded.
Only courts of justice should administer justice
In many Asian countries, there are institutions which bear the title
of “courts” that are not really courts of justice as understood
within the framework of the rule of law. In some countries,
“military tribunals” or “military courts” have been set up and
people are denied access to actual courts of law. This practice
should be abolished immediately and all actions taken by such
military tribunals relating to the administration of justice should
be treated as null and void.
Some such “courts” are merely political institutions and are not
courts of law. All actions taken by such political tribunals should
be treated as null and void, having no legal effect whatsoever. Only
courts vested with judicial power understood within the meaning of
separation of powers should be allowed to engage in the
administration of justice. Such courts should be courts of law bound
only by principles of the rule of law, and should be able to
function as impartial institutions dealing with administration of
When administering justice, courts must be bound to follow the law
strictly, both in terms of substantial and procedural law. The
discretion exercised by these courts should be strictly confined to
what is universally accepted within the framework of the
administration of justice. The creation and use of any “fake courts”
should be considered a grave crime, and any official that sets up
such courts should be prosecuted.
The duty of judges to protect the independence of the judiciary
It is the duty of the judges themselves (particularly the judges of
the superior courts) to be the ultimate guardians of the protection
of the independence of judiciary in their respective countries.
Under no circumstances should judges compromise with the executive
and/or the legislature on the issue of judicial independence.
In many Asian countries, there have been myriad instances where
judicial officers have allowed their position as judges - as well as
the independence of the judiciary as a whole - to be undermined by
the executive. In some instances, the judiciary has accepted
limitations of judicial review powers (such as the confinement of
judicial review applications to the short period during the
discussion of a bill in parliament before it becomes law) or even
the removal of the power of judicial review altogether. Once the
judicial power to review the law and executive actions is undermined
or removed altogether, the judicial branch is lowered in status
compared to the executive and the legislature.
When this undermining process continues over a period of time, the
judiciary is demoted in the context of the separation of powers.
Through this process, the operation of the constitutional principle
of the separation of powers gradually loses its power and relevance.
Judicial officers are thereby reduced to mere government servants
and are expected to carry out the orders of the government. The
ominous result of such a situation is the loss of judicial
protection for the individual liberties of citizens. Under these
circumstances, fundamental liberties and freedoms can be seriously
eroded and even lost altogether; the judiciary becomes incapable of
ensuring an effective remedy for the protection of citizens from
violations of human rights.
As previously discussed, there are also countries that reject the
separation of powers principle altogether. In such countries, the
executive has a superior status to the judiciary within the power
structure. Under these circumstances, judicial officers are not
really judicial officers as understood within the framework of the
separation of powers. The executive grants the powers to these
judicial officers and they are bound to obey the executive under all
They lack the capacity to declare that any actions of the executive
are illegal and therefore null and void. In fact, under such
circumstances, the judiciary does not have the power and ability to
decide on questions of law, especially when it contrasts with
executive actions. Therefore, in such countries, the ability of
courts to make fair decisions relating to the liberties of the
individual is highly questionable. In any case, the decisions made
by such “judges” are not of a judicial nature.
There are also circumstances in which the entire judicial branch
comes under the control of military dictatorships. The courts
transform and become mere instruments for carrying out military
objectives and military orders. In those circumstances, the tenets
of rule of law and of human rights lose all validity and relevance.
There have also been instances in which some judges of the superior
courts, particularly chief justices, have collaborated with the
executive branch to commit illegal actions. Through various
manipulations, such a compromised judiciary makes the illegal
actions of the executive appear to be legitimate and judicially
sanctioned. The overall impact of the undermining of the “judicial
nature” of the judiciary is to render the courts incapable of
protecting individual liberties.
There have also been many instances in which the executive, with the
aim of undermining the judiciary, has humiliated judges of the
higher courts (particularly chief justices). One method is the
illegal impeachment of chief justices or other superior court
judges. Such illegal impeachments diminish the overall legitimacy of
the judiciary. This results in the gradual degeneration of judicial
institutions, which subordinates them to the executive branch and
thereby renders them incapable of protecting individual rights. Such
methods of undermining the judiciary erode democratic processes and
bring about authoritarian forms of governance.
A further serious problem is corruption in the judiciary itself.
When people perceive that judicial corruption has become widespread,
the result is a loss of confidence in the judicial system. This
further contributes to the spread of corruption and the undermining
of judicial institutions. Judicial corruption also results in the
entrenchment of authoritarian power due to the displacement of
democratic structures based on the principle of the separation of
Freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary
The independence of the judiciary can only exist in a cultural
context that accepts the freedom of expression. The independence of
judges and lawyers depends on the capacity of members of these
professions to exercise their critical faculties and give expression
to all the legal and philosophical notions within which legal rights
have their foundation. Therefore, all restrictions on the use of the
critical faculties of judges and lawyers cripple and gradually
destroy the very existence of an independent legal and judicial
In many countries, the executive attempts to control the capacity of
judges and lawyers to express themselves freely. This represents an
attack on the very existence of legal and judicial processes. Such
restrictions include inferring with the critical examination of laws
and court judgments.
These restrictions on the freedom of expression seriously hamper the
functioning and development of the legal system as a whole,
including the judicial processes. Often, the doctrine of contempt of
court is unjustifiably invoked to restrict the critics of judicial
decisions and unjust judicial practices. Such restrictions are
unwise because the ultimate result is to undermine the judiciary
itself. Therefore, all such attempts to restrict just criticism of
laws, judgments and other related judicial and legal practices
should be resisted in order to preserve the independence of the
The role of an independent legal profession
A vibrant and independent legal profession is an essential
precondition for the existence and preservation of the independence
of the judiciary and the protection of individual liberties.
However, in Asia in most countries an independent legal profession
has not emerged. This is due to the structural non-recognition of
the foundational separation of powers principle in the system for
the administration of justice. The result is that, as a genuine
judicial process cannot exist in these countries, it is also not
possible for a genuine legal profession to take root and become
There must be fundamental reforms made to the power structures of
these countries before there can be a genuine judicial process to
which lawyers can contribute. Many countries that used to have
genuine structural preconditions for the functional independence of
the judiciary and legal profession have seen significant upheavals
in the recent decades. The limitations placed on the legal system
have undermined the rights of individuals and weakened the role of
In such countries, executive interference in the judicial process
paves the way for many forms of corruption, which also affects the
legal profession. Many lawyers become involved in corrupt practices
and, as a result, the legal profession is unable to play its
intended independent and professional role.
Serious interferences into the judicial processes by the executive
result in the undermining of judicial remedies against legal wrongs,
including human rights violations. This also has a direct bearing
upon the capacity of the legal profession to function as an
effective agent to assist people to obtain justice for the wrongs
they have suffered.
Under these circumstances, society loses trust in the legal system.
This leads ordinary people to look for other ways of solving their
problems rather than resorting to legal processes. This, again, has
its direct bearing upon the legal profession, as lawyers are left
either to participate in such illegal actions or risk becoming
irrelevant altogether. Lawyers and the professional bodies that
represent them are undermined and become targets just for practicing
their profession and standing up for the principles of justice.
These attacks create an atmosphere of intimidation within the legal
There have even been reports of extrajudicial executions, various
forms of imprisonment, and other forms of reprisal, including the
enforced disappearances of lawyers and their families. Allowing such
forms of violence against lawyers endangers the existence of any
independent legal profession. Every form of interference into the
free and fair practice of law by lawyers directly affects the
quality of the judicial officers, who are chosen from this pool of
Elimination of illegal and unfair detention
In many Asian countries, the power of the government to detain
individuals is abused in various ways and for myriad reasons.
Instances of such violations are as follows:
(i) As mentioned above, illegal arrests can take place for political
reasons or for the satisfaction of personal grudges held by
officials or by others who bribe these officials. After illegal
arrest (arrest without grounds), such arrestees are produced before
courts with allegations that restrict the powers of Magistrates to
discharge the detainee or to grant bail. These corrupt officials
choose some of the alleged crimes because they create prolonged
pre-trial detentions such as charges under terrorism laws,
drug-related laws, national security laws, cyber laws, Sharia, or
lèse-majesté, and other similar laws. For some of these offenses
bail is completely denied and for others bail can only be obtained
from higher courts, which results in prolonged detention until such
higher courts decide on these cases. Where bail is technically
available, false objections are submitted to the courts, which tend
to be biased in favour of government officers.
In some of these offences, a mere allegation is adequate to keep the
person under detention, and the Magistrates do not have the power to
examine whether the arrest and detention is indeed justifiable. In
some instances, these detentions take place on the orders of a
politician, such as a minister. The actual reason for the detention
is often not criminal but is instead political or personal.
Magistrates should be assigned the power to scrutinise the factual
basis of such detentions and be allowed to exercise their
independent oversight. This should eliminate the possibility for
such abuses of the power of detention; where Magistrates are not
satisfied with the justifiability of the detention, they should have
the power to release the detainees. The burden of justifying the
detention and denial of bail should be strictly on the state.
(ii) Some states practice ‘preventive detention’, ordered on the
basis of state allegations that a person is a threat to peace or
social harmony. The reason for detention is often to prevent people
from participating in peaceful protests or gatherings. When such
demands for detention are made, the state should be strictly
required to justify it. People’s rights to participate in peaceful
protest should not be violated through such detentions. There should
be quick access to a superior court in all instances where orders
for preventive detention are granted.
(iii) It is also a practice followed in some countries to hold
people incommunicado without any court order for the purposes of
questioning. Such a practice violates the basic right of a person to
be protected from illegal arrest and detention, and stands in
opposition to the principle that a person can be arrested only as
part of an investigation into an offence that the person has
allegedly committed with the view to produce them before a court.
(iv) In some countries, there are laws that allow people to be
detained for periods of three months or other longer without their
needing to be produced before a Magistrate. Such practices violate
the rights held by citizens to be protected from illegal arrest and
detention. These practices are usually allowed during military rule.
Organs of the state, including the police and military, become
accustomed to them. Even after the military is removed from power,
such practices continue. All laws allowing prolonged detention of
people under police or military custody without orders from a
Magistrate should be abolished forthwith, and law enforcement
agencies that have adjusted to such practices must be reformed.
Elimination of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, and
degrading treatment or punishment
Despite there being numerous signatories to the United Nations
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment, torture and ill treatment are widely used
in almost all Asian countries.
In terms of domestic legislation, only a few countries have abided
by the Convention to criminalize torture. Even in those countries,
despite the criminalization of torture, such laws are largely
unimplemented. When the criminalization of torture is not followed
by enforcement, it makes a mockery of the law and undermines the
respect for this vital UN convention.
At the level of local police stations, the widespread use of torture
during investigations into petty offences (for example, petty theft)
is widely reported. Listed below are some factors that influence the
widespread use of torture:
i) In terms of practical policy, certain states have sanctioned the
use of torture and ill treatment, although they may have made public
statements condemning such practices and even signed and ratified UN
ii) Some states do not provide adequate funding for criminal
investigation agencies to hire people who are competent, well
educated, and adequately trained in the art of modern criminal
investigation theory and practice. In modern systems, it is clearly
possible to carry out effective investigations against crime and
prosecute offenders without the use of torture and ill treatment.
iii) Most governments tacitly hold the view that the allocation of
adequate financial and human resources to build investigative
capacity within the state to combat crime is not a top priority.
iv) Many states appear to view the very existence of an effective
criminal investigation authority with modern capacities as a threat
to the nature of the political system, which may allow corruption
and abuse of power as an integral part of its operations.
v) In the case of authoritarian states, they naturally reject the
laws and rules relating to torture and ill treatment, as such means
are used to control their political opponents.
vi) In the context of broken down systems, the police have been
known to use torture to obtain money, either by torturing an
individual for pay, or by obtaining bribes from family members in
order to protect loved ones while they are detained.
These and other factors contribute to the widespread use of torture
and ill treatment in Asian countries. Despite strenuous efforts on
the part of UN human rights agencies - including the CAT Committee
and the Special Rapporteurs, who have dedicated a great deal of
their time and effort to this difficult task - it must be
acknowledged that states have demonstrated very little in the way of
positive efforts to ensure the implementation of this Convention.
There has been little similarity between the public statements made
by states at UN forums and their actual adherence to these
Policing systems that are primitive, outdated and inherently
repressive in nature
In many countries in Asia, the policing systems that exist were
either created by military regimes and shaped to serve military
requirements, or were created during colonial times to serve
colonial interests, which were basically militaristic in nature.
Only a few places have attempted to develop civilian policing,
either based on the London Metropolitan policing model or other
democratised policing models.
Further, the developments within the last few decades, which have
negatively affected the democratic space within many countries in
favour of executive-heavy models of governance, have also led
policing systems to become instruments for the suppression of
democratic freedoms and enhancement of executive control. The
violent conflicts, insurgencies, and other forms of terrorism that
have emerged in many countries have created spaces for the
displacement of normal laws. These laws have been replaced with
counter-insurgency, emergency, and anti-terrorism laws.
The abandonment of justice has occurred through the non-enforcement
of laws that protect citizens, as well as weakened procedural laws.
The aim of all such laws is to curtail the liberties of the
individual, often for the alleged purpose of national security. The
prevalence of such laws has had a devastating effect on the normal
legal systems of these countries through the destruction of
democratic norms, traditions, and practices. Even after the end of
the periods during which anti-terrorism laws and emergency rule
prevail, the devastating effects they have on legal and political
systems continue, and cause ongoing damage and disruption to
As a consequence of the use of anti-terrorism laws and emergency
rule, serious damage is caused to the judiciary. The independence of
the judiciary is suppressed in favour of measures undertaken in the
name of security. When judicial systems are undermined using police
laws in this manner, the basic structural arrangements based on the
separation of powers principle is undermined. The judiciary is
pushed back and made a lesser power as compared to the executive and
the legislature. Once that happens, this becomes a permanent part of
the political landscape and what emerges is a new type of a
political system within which the liberties of the individual are
In most Asian countries, a large proportion of the police force are
not educated, trained, or paid well. They do not have the necessary
competence to perform their role in the proper administration of
justice, particularly when it comes to criminal investigations. They
are also poorly trained in the forensic sciences, and their
understanding of collecting evidence mostly relates to obtaining
oral statements. This is often done by exerting pressure on accused
people, often meaning torture and other cruel, inhuman, and
degrading forms of treatment. In fact, torture and the use of cruel
and inhuman treatment becomes so normalized that the population
identifies the police as a physically violent institution.
Thus, a huge gap is created between the population and the police.
This itself is a grave problem for the administration of the
criminal justice process as no system of credible criminal justice
can prevail without the active cooperation of the population at
large. Such trust and cooperation does not exist in countries with
dysfunctional policing systems.
In these contexts, the population perceives the policing system as
corrupt. Surveys undertaken in Asian countries with dysfunctional
systems show that people regard the police as the most corrupt state
institution. A corrupt policing institution also contributes to
corruption in all other sections of the society.
Controlling the policing system so that it functions within the
framework of the rule of law requires a great deal of
anti-corruption work carried out by truly independent institutions.
In the few places where such institutions exist, the quality of
policing has greatly improved. However, in many Asian countries,
such credibly independent institutions that control corruption do
not exist. For the protection of individual liberties, preservation
of democracy, enforcement of the rule of law principle within
countries, and the possibility of fair trial, there must be radical
reforms of the policing systems that exist in most parts of Asia.
Elimination of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances:
Extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances are constantly
carried out in many countries in Asia. Such extrajudicial executions
and enforced disappearances are grave crimes and cannot be allowed
for any reason. In any state in which extrajudicial executions and
enforced disappearances take place, the state must accept liability
for such crimes and ensure immediate action be taken to investigate.
On the basis of such investigations conducted by credible agencies,
the culprits should be prosecuted immediately. In deciding on
culprits, the issue of command responsibility should be pursued
strictly. Every officer who bears direct or indirect responsibility
for such grave crimes should be brought before the courts as soon as
The absence of specific domestic laws relating to extrajudicial
executions and enforced disappearances should not be used as an
excuse to stop the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.
Where no proper laws exist, the laws must be made and enforced with
retrospective effect. Where such laws do not exist, they should be
treated as though they do, on the basis that such acts are crimes
against humanity. Where extrajudicial executions and enforced
disappearances occur on a large scale, the state should bear the
full liability for such crimes. These crimes likewise amount to
crimes against humanity.
Both national and international laws should be applied when dealing
with such crimes. All those who bear direct or indirect
responsibility for such crimes, either through personal involvement
or due to command responsibility, should be held liable for such
crimes. The courts must dispense justice quickly for such grave
crimes and, under the norms and practices of international law,
special tribunals can be set up for this task.
In cases of custodial killings, some countries allow officers from
the same police station or place of detention where the death has
occurred to conduct investigations into the matter. This practice is
a way of covering up many of these crimes and of finding various
ways to deny justice to the victims. There should be special and
credible units to investigate such crimes and these units should be
given the power, authority, and resources required to conduct their
inquiries without bias.
In instances of extrajudicial executions and enforced
disappearances, the state bears responsibility for compensating the
families of the victims. Such compensation should be in proportion
to the graveness of the crimes committed and the loss caused to the
families of victims.
Elimination of confessions made in custody being admitted as
evidence of guilt
The principle of fair trial is not part of the way the law is
practiced in many Asian countries, even in some that have signed and
ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Despite the principle being abstractly accepted, there are serious
obstacles to its application.
It is a common practice in many jurisdictions to deny the principle
of non-self-incrimination by the suspect in the investigative
process. This is to make the suspect the main source of information
against him or herself. The investigators demand that the suspect
provides all the information they request. The right to silence
commands little respect. Based on the source material provided by
the suspect, the investigators conduct any further inquiries. For
this purpose, when a complaint is registered, a suspect is
immediately arrested and interrogated in detention. The suspect is
commanded to reveal all the information in his possession to the
investigators. Often, false promises of quick release or lenient
sentences are made to deceive the suspect to give such information.
The investigators fail to caution the suspect about his or her right
not to self-incriminate. In addition, the threat or use of torture
and ill treatment is employed to obtain such information.
It is also a common practice to attribute statements to suspects
with the intention to falsely incriminate them. For this purpose,
signatures or fingerprints are taken on blank sheets of paper and
later attached to statements that the investigators themselves have
fabricated. These statements are often used at the ‘trials’. The
purpose of such ‘evidence’ is to create the illusion of a trial
when, in fact, what takes place is not really a trial at all.
In some countries, trials are routinely conducted through the
process of self-incrimination. At the very start of the trial, even
before the prosecution leads any evidence, the accused is required
to give his evidence first. Thereafter, the court and the
prosecution examine the veracity of the statement made by the
accused. This process is sometimes called ‘seeking truth from
facts’. This formula is the pretext used to allow
It is a right of the accused to be represented by a lawyer of his
choice. However, in many countries, this right is not observed and,
in some contexts, it is even objected to. This is to maintain a lack
of proper oversight over the investigation and to cover up the
flouting of the basic principles against such manipulations of the
criminal investigation process.
Even in countries where the law recognizes the inadmissibility of
confessions, torture is used to obtain guilty pleas. Methods of
obtaining self-incriminating statements are used to ‘gather
evidence’, which means finding other witnesses to give the evidence
taken from the accused by the investigators. Thus, even though a
statement of confession by the accused is not formally used during
trial, it is used indirectly. Thus, the various manipulations
through which self-incriminatory statements are obtained from the
accused vitiate trial processes.
The elimination of undue delays
One of the major obstacles to the development of legal and judicial
processes in many Asian countries is the problem of undue delays in
the adjudication of cases. In several of these countries, such undue
delays have reached scandalous proportions and become a major cause
for a loss of faith in the administration of justice itself.
The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights under Article 5(2) obligates all states to prevent
undue delay in the administration of justice. The UN Human Rights
Committee, through several of its views on the communications it has
examined, has dealt with the issue of undue delay and has declared
it to be a human rights violation. In one of its views, given in
relation to the communication by Mr. Lalith Rajapakse from Sri
Lanka, the UN Human Rights Committee condemned the undue delay in
the enquiry into the violation of his rights. The problem of undue
delay in investigations, preparing prosecutions, and during
adjudication was examined and the Committee stated that even in the
context of a less developed country, three years' delay in the final
adjudication of a case should be considered undue delay.
However, there are many countries in which such delays are rampant
and, accounting for appeals, criminal cases can take 15 years or
more. In civil cases, such undue delays could extend the
adjudication of a case to 30 or more years. There are many instances
in which the cases have extended beyond the lifetime of litigants
and continued even after their death.
Such undue delays not only demoralise litigants but can also
intimidate governments because certain pieces of legislation they
wish to pursue cannot not be implemented during the period in which
the government bringing it forward is in power. Such a situation
frustrates the process of governance and creates dissatisfaction
among the population. When some governments are faced with this
problem they retaliate by placing restrictions on judicial review
and otherwise attempting to restrict access to courts. The result of
this is the further deterioration of the legal system, which
deprives citizens of the right to seek judicial remedies for
Undue delays have also led to an increase of corruption within the
litigation processes. Faced with the problem of undue delay, a
litigant tends to find a shortcut by resorting to various forms of
corruption, which can include attempts to bribe the judges. Further,
there are many instances when litigants or witnesses have been
assassinated or otherwise harmed during the long periods in which
cases are kept pending. The result is that litigants and witnesses
are discouraged from the pursuit of their rights through legal
means. All this adds to public scepticism about the judicial
A further result of delay is to distort the litigation process,
which is particularly severe in criminal cases. Judges and
prosecutors in such contexts have been known to agree to
unprincipled ‘settlements’ of cases, which is done to avoid
additional burdens where there is already a large backlog of cases.
In some instances, even serious crimes like murder or rape are
‘settled’ with minor punishments, such as the payment of small
fines. In short, undue delay negates access to fair trial and the
just adjudication of cases. Without drastic measures being taken to
end undue delays, judicial processes cannot provide effective
Denial of the rights of women
In the Asian context there are manifold forms of denial of rights of
women. Women face acute forms of discrimination in public as well as
private life. Use of brutal forms of punishments to force marriages
or to oppose freely arrived decisions on marriage and other personal
matters is common in Asia.
Women also face other forms of denial of their rights, including but
not limited to their right to education, rights to and in employment
and against women who chose to exercise their freedom as
individuals. Improvements of circumstances in Asia for women to
fully participate in public life is minimal even today.
Physical threats against women, to their person and property, and
sexual violence against women, does not have the possibility of
effective remedy due to the problems iterated above of the justice
framework in Asia. Lack of sensitisation of the law enforcement
agencies and even the judiciary in Asia regarding the unique
challenges faced by women renders complaining about sexual violence
and pursuing justice and remedies a traumatic experience in Asia.
Discrimination against women in the name of menstruation, or murder
of women in the name of family honour, and trafficking in women
cannot be effectively addressed without changes brought into the
prevailing nature of justice dispensation in Asia.
Denial of the rights of children
Children, particularly from discriminated social groups like the
Dalits, and belonging to the low-income families face acute
challenges in Asia. Prevailing practices of bonded labour
facilitates modern forms of child slavery and the sale of children.
In many parts of rural Asia, there are no schools or there are no
adequate facilities in schools to ensure children from rural areas
receive education. Besides, children from the Dalit communities in
Asia are systematically discriminated by their teachers, often from
privileged castes and communities and therefore denied education.
In some countries there are various forms of imprisonment practiced
against children even if they are of tender age, for offences like
loitering in public roads. Child sexual abuse and trafficking in
children cannot be addressed without adequate and immediate changes
brought into the justice delivery framework. Children who are
victims of child trafficking are often either re-trafficked or
sexually abused even while they are in ‘protective custody’ of state
agencies. One of the biggest impediments in dealing with child
trafficking is the prevailing extent of criminal nexus that exists
within crime syndicates and law-enforcement agencies.
Marawi: Unable to return
home, thousands remain dependent on aid 2 months after conflict ends
December 20, 2017
MANILA – It has
been almost two months since armed conflict ended in Marawi City but
thousands of displaced people remain unable to return home and are
in need of help and attention. A majority of the displaced people
staying in municipalities east of Lake Lanao come from the worst
affected parts of Marawi City that have not opened for return yet.
They are still dependent on relatives, the authorities and aid
Coming to their aid, the
Red Cross recently distributed food and hygiene supplies to
thousands of people still displaced in Lanao del Sur. Among the
recipients of this assistance is Aisah Toroganan, a mother of five,
who is currently seeking refuge in the eastern part of the lake.
Aisah and her family have
been living with her aunt in Molundo, Lanao del Sur, since the
fighting broke out in May. They left their home and everything they
had behind once they felt it was too dangerous for them to stay in
Marawi. “Where we live now, we are 34 people occupying three small
houses in the compound. The place is cramped and we can barely find
a place to sleep”, she said.
“We try to find ways to
earn extra cash to support ourselves. I, for example, use my skills
as a seamstress by offering sewing services to neighbors, but that
is not enough to help us make ends meet. Most of us still rely on
the assistance – especially food rations – that the government and
other agencies give us”, Aisah added.
Aisah is looking forward
to return to their house in Marawi once they will be allowed to do
so. She hopes to receive seed capital to restart her business as
well as cash to repair any damages of their house.
From December 13 to 15,
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in collaboration
with the Philippine Red Cross distributed half-month food rations
and hygiene supplies among over 16,500 displaced people in five
municipalities of Lanao del Sur. Each family received 25 kg of rice,
one litre of soy sauce, one litre of oil, 12 tins of sardines, 1 kg
of sugar, ½ kg of salt, two 20-litre jerry cans and hygiene items.
“We are in contact with
the authorities, armed forces and non-State armed groups at the
local level so they understand who we are and allow us to deliver
our humanitarian response”, ICRC delegate Meher Khatcherian said.
“To optimize available resources, we coordinate the distribution
work with the main government agencies and other organizations.
While they support the displaced people in the west of Lake Lanao,
we focus on the eastern part,” he added.
Having continuously helped
those affected by the fighting in this area, the ICRC enjoys a level
of acceptance that allows it to deliver aid in hard to reach areas
where other organizations have limited access.
The ICRC is a neutral,
impartial and independent humanitarian organization whose
exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity
of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to
provide them with assistance. The ICRC also endeavours to prevent
suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and
universal humanitarian principles.
from Coast Pacific Manufacturing Inc. made from natural,
sustainable, and a variety of recycled materials.
18 PH brands
spotlight local fibers, indigenous sustainable crafts in Japan’
biggest furniture fair
November 21, 2017
MAKATI CITY – The
country’s premier woven fibers, recycled natural and other
indigenous materials will take center stage as the Philippines
returns to the International Furniture Fair Tokyo (IFFT) on November
20-22 at the Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan.
Led by the Center for
International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), 18 homegrown
brands will present eco-sustainable home and lifestyle products made
to suit the need of the Japanese market, the 2nd largest trading
partner of the Philippines.
“We will continue to
invigorate the good trade relations between Japan and the
Philippines by bringing in interiors and high-end fashion wears made
from country’s natural indigenous and sustainable materials,
including abaca, tikog fiber, shells, raffia, sugarcane, and many
more,” said CITEM Executive Director Clayton Tugonon.
Tugonon said the
Philippine raw fibers, as well as products made from it, enjoys high
demand from Japan. For instance, Japan was the second top importer
of local abaca fiber from January to September 2016, accounting for
38.8 percent of the total exports during that period, based on the
date of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (Philfida).
Under the Lifestyle
Philippines pavilion, eighteen companies representing the
Philippines are Artisana Island Crafts, Azcor Lighting Systems,
Inc., Coast Pacific Manufacturing Corporation, Contemporaneo Design
Enterprise, Cubo Sustainable Furnishings, Delza's Native Products,
Designs Ligna, Inc., Fashion Interiors Manufacturing, Inc., Johansen
World Group Corporation, Lija By That One Piece Enterprise, Lolo
Bobby Handicraft, MLC Crystal Seas, Inc., My Souvenir Banig de Basey,
Natural Craft Connection Enterprise, Nature's Legacy Eximport, Inc.,
South Sea Veneer Corporation, Southeast Metro Arts, Inc., and Tuy
Arts and Designs.
With the theme ‘Perpetual
Artistry,’ this Philippine exhibit in the IFFT 2017 will showcase
the country’s premier products with a deep emphasis on the value of
aesthetic value, space and nature. Included in the product offering
are home accents, wall décors, tabletop accessories, lamps and
lighting, outdoor furniture, and functional home furniture.
“We want to highlight the
Philippine design aesthetics can be seen through our sense of
artistry, authenticity and visual dynamism. We will evoke the sense
of beauty of material things and emulate the emotional appeal of
every little detail that was put together by hands to create a
sophisticated piece,” Tugonon explained.
“On the practical side, we
also made careful consideration and adjustments to the product sizes
and spatial boundaries. The least space one occupies in a home, the
more attractive it is in the market since Japanese people tend to
live in small yet cozy houses,” he pointed out. “The Japanese's
preference in furniture which comprises of three qualities:
functional, practical, and innovative without compromising style.”
Meanwhile, Tugonon noted that the focus on natural crafts was
further inspired by greenery, which is this year's color trend
declared by Pantone symbolizing new beginnings.
Tugonon said: “The
Philippines' return in the Japanese furniture trade, it is crucial
to present fresh ideas and new exceptional products that showcase
the abundance of natural resources that are used in our crafts and
are proudly homegrown.”
The November edition of
IFFT, also known as IFFT/Interior Lifestyle Living, is an
international trade fair that spotlights lifestyle concepts in
interior design markets from around the world.
Interior Lifestyle Tokyo
derives from two trade fairs – Ambiente, the largest consumer goods
trade fair in the world, and Heimtextil, an international trade fair
for household and commercial textiles. In Japan, Interior Lifestyle
Tokyo is held in June, while its sister fair, IFFT/Interior
Lifestyle Living, takes place in November.
Last year, the IFFT
welcomed more than 20,400 visitors from 31 countries around the
world to witness the finest design and interior products from 450
brands and companies from 14 different countries.
Lifestyle Philippines is a
collective of creative enterprises representing the best of the
Philippines’ home and fashion sectors – featuring versatile yet
highly-artisanal products that are attuned to modern living.
The participation in IFFT
2017 is a key initiative of CITEM in its commitment to develop,
nurture, and promote globally competitive small and medium
enterprises (SMEs), exporters, designers, and manufacturers by
implementing an Integrated Approach to Export Marketing in
partnership with other government and private entities.
made from 100% local abaca fiber by Natural Craft Connection
rehabilitation, not militarization!
November 7, 2017
Samar – People Surge Northern Samar Chapter, together with
allied groups under the #StandwithSamar campaign, joins fellow
disaster survivors in commemorating the 4th anniversary of Yolanda
with surge of protests from all over the region and with support
groups backing us up from all over the globe.
Super Typhoon Yolanda
(international name: Haiyan), the strongest typhoon to ever made
landfall, only signaled the arrival of other consecutive typhoons
which ravaged Northern Samar: Typhoon Glenda (July 2014), Super
Typhoon Ruby (December 2014), Typhoons Seniang (December 2014) and
Nona (December 2015).
The already “poor”
province of Northern Samar has become even poorer. Prior to Yolanda,
poverty incidence was nailed at 43.5 percent but in 2015, it leaped
to 56.2 percent. Northern Samar remains to be one of poorest
provinces in the country.
Nona, the typhoon which
hit strongest in Northern Samar, left 15 people dead, 1,207 wounded
and 11 people missing. It ravaged 110,427 houses and 112,655
families in Northern Samar. According to the Office of Civil Defence
(OCD), total loss in the province amounted to more than P14 billion
where P960,690,993 came from the agriculture sector.
The storms that struck,
especially Ruby and Nona, have resulted to fallen trees and severe
damage to coconut plantations. It takes almost seven years before
coconut trees fully recover from nature’s fury. Farmers either have
very low yield or farmers' planted coconut trees have yet to bear
fruit, subjecting them to the perennial debt trap of rich landowners
and exploitative merchants.
A recent report from the
Department of Agriculture (DA) also shows that rice production in
Northern Samar posed a steady drop in the past three years. In 2014,
rice production in the province was at 117,965 metric tons but in
2016, it dropped to 111,086 metric tons.
According to the
Provincial Office of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development
Authority (PhilFIDA), damaged abaca plantations after Typhoon Nona
was at 99.97% affecting thousands of farmers and fiber loss worth
more than P173 million. Abaca farms also suffered the infestation of
bunchy top virus which impeded recovery from the wrought of
We suffer multiple disasters: nature's fury, government negligence
Provincial and national
government failed to provide timely and decent help. Even during the
disaster preparation phase, the Commission on Audit (COA) 2016
report cited certain municipalities in the province which failed to
maximize and/or misuse the 70% mitigation fund under the Local
Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (LDRRMC).
The integrity of disaster
response after Nona struck Northern Samar is also put in question.
The 2016 Audit Report of COA shows municipalities in the province
which lacked transparency as to where disaster aids go such as the
case of Laoang and Palapag towns, to name a few.
Meanwhile, the Emergency
Shelter Assistance (ESA) for Typhoon Nona was given two years after
it swept through the province under a 'prorated scheme'. Instead of
receiving full amount, totally damaged households only received
P13,000 while partially damaged households only received P8,000.
People Surge chapters in Gamay and Lapinig towns reported that
distribution of said aid has not yet even begun in their
municipalities. Even the cash-for-work program of DSWD for Typhoon
Ruby has not yet been conducted in those two municipalities.
Northern Samar is also set
to receive the Presidential Financial Assistance (PFA) under the
Duterte administration. There are 22,073 beneficiaries in Northern
Samar who will receive P5,000 from the PFA. Local People Surge
chapters however said that distribution has not yet started in any
part of the province.
The Provincial Office of
Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority reported that there
is an unused fund of P12.7 million budget specifically allotted for
the rehabilitation of abaca farms in the province after Typhoon Nona
swept. Two years since the typhoon, the government has not provided
a single coin, no free insecticide or pesticide to kill bunchy top
virus, virtually no help amid the gravity of the situation.
The government provided
little to no aid for farmers in the province. While the Department
of Agriculture (DA) reported that rice seedlings and other
agricultural inputs have already been distributed in communities
affected by the typhoon, local farmers' organizations report that
most farmers did not receive any of those agricultural aids. And if
there are any agricultural inputs given, local chapters reported
that only selected families are provided with such aids. In our
local chapter in Lapinig town, members reported that rice seedlings
were not actually given for free by the DA.
The provincial government
has instead crafted the Nona Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan
(NRRP) 2016-2019 that brushes the agricultural sector to the margins
and has put more premium on infrastructure instead despite Northern
Samar being an agriculture-driven province.
Government intervention to
the farming sector is also notorious as scapegoats of land-grabbing.
Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA) reported cases
where their lands are being taken from them by the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the mass reforestation
of bamboo shoots across the province particularly in Las Navas and
Catubig. Despite strong resistance from the local peasants, hundreds
of hectares are being claimed by the National Greening Program.
Meanwhile in Palapag town, farmers are asked to plant cacao instead.
One of the principal objectives of the said program is to help
reduce poverty and provide alternative livelihood to farmers in
upland areas but ironically operates in favor of landlessness,
debilitating farm production and stealing peasant livelihood.
DA's promise of free
irrigation is nowhere to be found in the province. All local
chapters present reported that no free irrigation was provided to
them by the government. In Palapag, farmers are asked to pay
P1,500-P3,000 per hectare whenever they use the irrigation facility.
Meanwhile in Catubig town the Help for Catubig Agricultural Project
(HCAAP) which aims to provide irrigation covering 700 hectares of
farmland supposed to be completed in 2007, was left unfinished by
Local chapters report that
if there are any livelihood programs given, they are mostly loans
that may potentially bring bankruptcy to farmers' organizations. In
Palapag town, the military is initiating alternative livelihood in
coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as
part of their overall counter-insurgency design, Oplan Kapayapaan. A
review of the NRRP also shows provisions such as the “No Build Zone”
policy which may displace thousands of residents along the coast and
consequently displace them from their sources of income.
Militarization is government's response
In previous months since
the implementation of the bloody counter-insurgency program Oplan
Kapayapaan, the people of Northern Samar who have yet to recover
from the onslaught of successive typhoons, have been targets of
militarization and state terror.
In Barangay Sumuroy,
farmers from the barrio stood their ground against military
encampment and sought refuge at the municipal town proper of Lope de
Vega due to 43rd IBPA Bravo Company's militarization last March.
Schools are far from being zones of peace as they report soldiers
occupying schools and even constructing defense structures such as
Meanwhile in Barangay
Geparayan in Sivino Lobos, 13 families (57 individuals) evacuated to
different barrios due to harassment threats by the military. Cases
of illegal detention and strafing were also experienced by farmers
in Las Navas. Military encampment within civilian communities
continue in Barangay Mckinley in Catarman, Barangay San Isidro and
San Miguel in Las Navas, among others.
In Las Navas Elementary
School, the military has been encamping within the school vicinity
for three years now. They also camped within Las Navas National High
School from May to August this year where even teachers have been
harassed by the military. They also planted landmines surrounding
the school which sent fear among students and teachers alike.
Harassment among teachers have also been reported in Lope de Vega
and far-flung barangays in Las Navas. There are also reported
military men going inside the school in full battle gear and
enticing children to spy their targets.
In Barangay San Miguel in
Las Navas, Alyansa san mga Parag-uma kontra Gutom san Las Navasnon (APKLAS)
reported that elements of the 20th IB have been camping within the
community for three months now. Under the pretension of “peace and
development,” they have exhibited ill-respect to public facilities
such as barangay halls, barangay health centers and even the barrio
school by treating them as barracks. For one, military fatigue are
hung in the barangay health stations and they occupy the place when
barangay health workers and patients should have been occupying
As of this writing,
military troops are also in civilian communities of Barangay
Mckinley in Catarman town, in Barangays Poponton, San Miguel and San
Isidro in Las Navas town, committing various human rights abuses. We
have received reports from local chapters that state forces are
strong-arming civilians to surrender, subjecting them to psywar to
admit that they are members of the New People's Army (NPA).
We are fed up with so much
injustices and outright fascism. We join other disaster survivors in
the call for justice and accountability! Stand with us. #Stand with
The women of
Marawi: Threading the way back to normalcy
October 24, 2017
MAKATI CITY –
Making ends meet is a great challenge for residents of Marawi City
but these women are doing everything just to stay afloat and keep
their family alive.
Sewing was their regular
source of livelihood, but all of a sudden, it came to an abrupt end.
On May 23, 2017, thousands of families were displaced by the war and
scores of families had to flee to ensure their families' safety.
But as they say, there's a
light at the end of the tunnel.
To hasten the recovery and
rehabilitation of Marawi City, the Department of Trade and Industry
(DTI), which leads the Bangon Marawi Task Force Sub-committee on
Business and Livelihood, provided these with sewing machines and
cloth as starter kits to help them earn while staying either
home-based or at evacuation centers.
Back in August, DTI-Region
10 identified 16 women internally displaced persons (IDPs) who will
be trained for dressmaking and were awarded with the sewing kits.
The 16 sewers are able to generate income for themselves.
From the Sta Elena
Gymnasium, where they temporarily stay, the 16 women sewers go to
the Provincial Training and Livelihood Development Center in Iligan
City, where every sewer can earn at least P500 after a day’s work.
For Asnia Sandiman, 23,
laying hands on a high-speed sewing machine was a dream come true.
Even as a kid, Asnia has been sewing handwoven tube skirts or malong
in Filipino, shoals, and long dresses to earn extra for her
schooling and for her family.
But with the new sewing
machines and cloth provided by DTI, Asnia can earn up to P1,300. At
school, her classmates also ask her to sew for them, allowing her to
earn even more.
To Asnia, the new sewing
kits was her new lease on life amid the crisis that she and her
family are going through.
"Naappreciate namin at
sobrang masaya kami. Parang nabigyan kami ng panibagong buhay," a
teary-eyed Asnia said, while recalling the time when the terrorists
where banging on their door.
"Malaking tulong sa amin
ito," she added.
On the other hand, the
DTI's Negosyo Center and PTLDC ensure that the handwoven malongs,
shoals, and long dresses made by the IDP sewers go to the market.
Indeed the products ended up in the right market with orders coming
in from SM Cagayan de Oro, Manila, the Bangon Marawi Concert, Bangon
Marawi Store at DTI main office in Makati City. There are also
orders from Rustan's for the Go Lokal! Project.
Fellow IDP and 36-year-old
Memeng Dianal, said the sewing kits allowed her to feed her six
children everyday. From P500 she earns before, now, Memeng earns
P2,000 a day, finishing at least 20 handwoven malongs, shoals, and
“Malaking tulong ito sa
amin [sewing kits] kahit kaunti-konti natutustusan namin yung
araw-araw na pangangailangan namin,” Memeng said.
Despite knowing that her
family’s home in ground-zero is now levelled due to the conflict,
Memeng is hopeful that once they return to Marawi, there will be
more opportunities for her and other Marawi residents. If only she
can handle two businesses, she would do it for her children.
“Kung pwedeng doblehin ang
business, magdodoble kayod ako para sa mga anak ko,” she said.
Now with the fighting
officially declared over by the government, Asnia and Memeng,
together with other residents of Marawi will just have to wait for
their return to their hometown.
After all, hope springs
a carrot and romaine fields in one of the highland vegetable
terraces of Maria's Farm, situated on over 2,000 above sea
level (ASL) in the town of Kibungan, Benguet.
Former OFW uplifts
Cordillera farmers into exporters
GDME Fruits and
Vegetables leads PH highland farmers to global market
September 11, 2017
MAKATI CITY – The
province of Benguet has been making a mark in the international
market as a sourcing hub for premium agricultural products, such as
fruits, vegetables, coffee, and other highland crops.
With more than half of its
residents or 100,000 farmers toiling on more than 30,000-hectare
farms scattered in vegetable-producing towns, Benguet is living up
to its moniker as the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines.”
But the farmers from the
province, including most areas in the Cordillera, has yet to realize
their full market potential in the lucrative export industry. This
difficulty contributes to the economic disadvantage of Cordilleran
farmers as the region’s agriculture sector records the least
contribution to their economy, despite employing 46 percent of the
labor force or 348,000 of its total 766,000 abled bodies.
“The lack of drive from
our farmers to export much of it has got to do with their local and
limited mindset,” said Maricel Hernaez. “Many of our farmers in the
Cordillera are producing crops with the idea of harvesting it only
either for their own household consumption or for selling at the
local vegetable trading post.”
Taking Philippine fruits
and vegetables from highlands to overseas
A former overseas Filipino
worker (OFW), Hernaez came back to the Philippines with a dream: to
abolish the domestic-centric mindset of the Cordillera farmers and
help them penetrate the international market.
Born and raised in a
farming family in Cordillera, her life-mission sprung during her
service as a domestic helper for five years in Singapore, where she
has keenly followed the sky-rocketing prices and huge demand for
highland fruits and vegetables.
“Grabe ang taas ng presyo
ng gulay sa Singapore, for example nalang ‘yung isang malaking
patatas minsan umaabot ng two dollars at pati ‘yung cabbage nasa
mahigit one dollar ang 250 grams. Dito sa Pilipinas, nasa limang
piso lang ang patatas na malalaki at yung cabbage, isang kilo na
katumbas ng one dollar mo,” she shared. “Kung produkto lang naman
ang paguusapan, competitive ang galing sa Pilipinas pagdating sa
laki at kalidad.”
In her last working year
as a domestic helper, Hernaez met up with the Philippine Trade and
Investment Centre (PTIC) in Singapore to seek guidance on her plan
to become a vegetable and fruit exporter. In March 2015, she came
back to the Philippines and immediately established her company,
GDME Fruits and Vegetables Trading, naming it after her parents:
Gilbert Domerez (father) and Mercy Espara (mother).
“My parents who made a
living through farming have inspired me to pursue this agenda,” she
elated. “They are the foundation of my goal of nurture the country’s
agri-export market by tapping the promising farming communities in
A tall order
Having no land to call her
own, Hernaez has been operating GDME Fruits and Vegetable Trading
for the past two years as its sole networking, monitoring, and
marketing officer for grassroots farmers across the Cordillera
In her networking
initiatives with the local farmers, it has always been a challenge
for her to explain, innovate, and change some of their farming
methods and even their products to suit the demand of the global
“Going one by one with the
farmers, I always explain that we have the tools to compete with
other countries. We are situated at a higher elevation with the
perfect soil and climate. Most importantly, our farmers are
hard-working,” she stressed. “But, I tell them we should comply with
food standards and certifications. I also encourage them to plant
the crops that are in-demand because if we plant crops that no one
wants to buy then it will just go to waste.”
Without a formal academic
background in agriculture, she has always been looking for fresh
ideas and new ways on how to improve her technical know-how on the
export industry by attending seminars and partnering with government
agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“I never missed
opportunities where I can learn new things. Last May, I joined IFEX
Philippines, together with our farmers, where we encountered people
who are willing to help us grow,” Hernaez said. “We were also glad
to meet foreign buyers that are really interested in our fruits and
Now GDME Fruits and
Vegetables Trading has partnered and has been consolidating the
yield of more than 60 farmers in communities located in the
municipalities of Kibungan, which is considered the “Little Alaska
of the Philippines,” as well as in Mankayan, and Kabayan.
Among her community
partners are the Bosingan Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Mankayan Young
Farmers, Maria’s Farm, and the Bashoy Kabayan Multi-Purpose
Fresh from the highlands,
they offer different varieties and cultivars of potato, radish,
carrot, chayote, cucumber, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, tomato, romaine
zucchini, sugar beets, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, onion
leeks, snow peas, and green beans.
“In our farm, we are able
to grow fruits in huge sizes. For instance, in our cabbages, we are
cultivating the scorpio F1 hybrid and sugarloaf varieties. When
fully grown, these varieties can reach an average net weight of 2
kilograms each, while your regular lowland cabbage varieties only
reach 1 kilograms each. Our is twice the size,” she said.
Her partner farmers are
also cultivating strawberry, lemon, parsley, cilantro, kale, mint,
basil, alfalfa, arugula, red radish, young corn, fennel leaves, and
They also have some of the
iconic Cordillera processed goods, such as sweet and sour chili
sauce, strawberry jam, peanut butter, and kimchi.
Hernaez said an exporting
farmer will be able to earn at least 15 pesos more per kilo of their
harvest. She added: “Some might even go double the price when
depending on their reception on our quality and demand.”
"With these many products,
we are targeting the demand in Singapore and other nearby ASEAN
countries, as well as those in the Middle East,” she added. “We are
also open to offers from other buyers across the globe that can be
beneficial to the livelihood of our farmers.”
Cordillera farmers moving
While the high elevation
augments the harvest, it also makes highland fruits and vegetables
prone to risks of climate change, making its price highly volatile.
“We know that there is a
demand for our agricultural products, but the next step is how we
can corner that demand? With our talks with people that we met on
IFEX Philippines, we should be able to do it if we set our fruits
and vegetables at stable prices and produce them at a sustainable
rate. It’s a challenge for us here in the highland considering the
ever-changing weather conditions,” said Hernaez.
Faced with this
predicament, Hernaez is trying to hit two birds with one stone in
creating a viable year-round crop rotation system: working on
identifying the in-demand varieties crops that are a tolerant to
extreme weather and are resistant to pests and diseases.
“With this method, we also
can minimize the use of synthetic chemicals and inputs, or apply
good farming practices which involve the balanced application of
organic and chemical inputs,” she explained.
The former OFW also
continues to widen her network to increase their agriculture supply
and product selection, allowing small-scale farming communities to
accommodate bulk orders from foreign buyers.
At the same time, she is
helping Cordillera farmers secure the Good Agricultural Practices
(GAP) certification – an accreditation promoted by the ASEAN
community and is unanimously recognized in the international market.
Out of the 78
GAP-certified farms in the Philippines, only 4 farms are from
According to the
Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries
Standards (DA-BAFS), GAP Certification ensures that a farm is not
only in the quality of his crops, but in all aspects of farming.
The GAP standard requires
a scrutiny of the history of the farm site and its prior use; the
type of soil, and its compatibility with crops and seed sources; the
judicious use of pesticides and fertilizers, whether chemical or
organic; the sources of potable water for irrigation and washing of
crops; the harvest and post-handling procedures; the health and
hygiene of the farmer and handlers, and other factors.
"Gusto kong makita sa mga
farmers if they can eat their products raw and fresh, ‘yun na kasi
uso din because there are a lot of vegetarians. ‘Yung iba kasi they
have a lot of pesticide to the point na hindi na pwede makain kasi
maamoy or matapang yung chemicals. At least with GAP
[certification], we can be one stop closer to this goal,” she said.
Aside from GAP
certifications, GDME Fruits and Vegetable Trading is also working to
secure Halal certifications for the community farmers as they are
targeting the demand for halal fruits and vegetables in the Middle
East, particularly in Dubai and U.A.E.
Though the Philippine
National Standards for Halal (PNS 2067: 2008), Halal products are at
par with international standards to enhance the competitiveness of
local industries, and to ensure product quality and safety for the
“GDME Fruits and Vegetable
Trading is committed to prime Cordilleran farmers to become
export-ready in the global market so that they would grow together
with the company and the booming Philippine food industry,” she
Muslim OFW breaks
waves; Opens the first Japanese Halal resto in the PH
July 11, 2017
MAKATI CITY – The
Filipino worker who has served among the longest at King Saud
University as an administrative secretary and quality standard
coordinator for over 20 years is a Mindanaoan, who at childhood would
bravely cross islands by boat and alluvial plains on foot with his
brother during summertime to collect coconut shells and make them into
Coming from one of the
minority tribes in Mindanao known as the people of the current, Hasim
Salih Mammah conscientiously turned around an imminent tide of
deprivation into waves of success in his various personal and
“I was raised by a
disciplinarian teacher-mother and a business-trader father to value
hard work, independence, and concern and respect for others at an
early age. Joining reach-out activities in Mindanao’s most impoverish
communities at teen age, and eventually awarded as among one of the
best scouts by the Boy Scout of the Philippines in Zamboanga City
boosted my interest to make a difference in life,” says Hasim.
Hasim was 18 years old and
recuperating from the demise of his father when he found himself
driving tamaraw jeepney along unpaved roads in outskirts of Zamboanga
City to sustain his schooling at the Western Mindanao State
University. He was a relentless working student throughout college,
finishing a degree in Political Science.
The young man who dared to
twist his fate in Metro Manila selling books and reading materials in
offices and homes eventually landed a job in Riyadh as a salesman and
one of the pioneering employees of a company that would become today’s
top retail franchise company carrying more than 80 of the world's
best-known retail brands across global markets.
“Hard work and work-focus
were my weapons to build the trust of my superiors,” Hasim relates as
he reminisced growing his career from being a salesman to becoming a
retail supervisor and sales advisor. His two years of exposure in
marketing top brands have built up in himself an incredible global
market knowledge and marketing strategies.
An epitome of Filipino
When not at work during
weekend, Hasim would delight his close Filipino friends in Riyadh with
his Asian recipes that he casually prepared for their various special
occasions. “I cooked 100 percent Halal in the variety of my Asian
menus.” Hasim’s catering service, though limited to the Filipino
community, was handled with quality standards.
Having had received a
certification program with the Associate Chartered Quality Institute (ACQI)
made Hasim very meticulous in his service detail. The significant
learning he has accrued from his university research works on
“Academic Quality Management” manifested in the way he manages his
professional works and personal ventures.
Hasim became an epitome of
Filipino resiliency when he dared break through the Japanese food
business industry in Saudi Arabia. In 2012, about 12 years after a
decade-long season of servicing the Filipino community with his
home-based 100 percent Halal Asian food catering business, Hasim
decided to learn the trade of food service. “I went to various places
to learn the food service trade -- attending conferences and food expo
in Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan.” In his unyielding
pursuit of more knowledge in food service, Hasim met a Filipino who
has a lengthy experience as a Japanese chef.
Hasim manages the Samurai
Japanese Cuisine Restaurant in Riyadh since 2013. The restaurant that
employs mostly Filipino OFWs has been enjoying excellent reviews among
multi-racial customers and Japanese food fanatics in the city.
“It is amazing that Japan,
which has mere .05% Muslim population, enjoys numerous Japanese Halal
eateries spread across all its cities and provinces. It is sad though
that the Philippines has 11% Muslim population and yet has no Japanese
Halal restaurant found anywhere across the country,” reveals Hasim.
“It is this reality that
prompted me to bring to the Philippines the first 100 percent Halal
Japanese restaurant, called Samurai Halal Express.”
Innovative and authentic
taste at Samurai Halal Express
Located at a prime area in
the Food Court of Terminal-3 in the Ninoy Aquino International
Airport, the Samurai Halal Express is a cozy eatery for Muslims and
non-Muslims who love Japanese cuisine.
Strictly using imported
Halal meat and chicken and halal-authenticated ingredients, the first
Halal Japanese restaurant in the Philippines is proudly manned by a
Filipino sushi chef who has mastered the artistry of Japanese cuisine.
On top of the regular
Japanese cuisine selections, the Samurai Halal Express unveils several
innovative menus, such as the country’s first new ramen in a bowl with
choices of seafood, chicken and beef ramen – all in authentic taste.
“Everything is made to order
with the freshest ingredients, making sure that every dish is prepared
from scratch, and is cooked separately with secret flavor,” claims its
Samurai’s tempura and furai
(fried shrimp) are hand-picked and nicely coated with utmost care.
Customers are free to watch Samurai’s show kitchen. Customers can see
the preparation of sushi side and food orders as they are done the
traditional way – with not much fusion except for its authentic
ingredients. Children who love sushi will surely bask in its beef and
chicken roll designed with the fancy look.
Samurai Halal Express is
said to be a “market tester” that will soon become a model for
expansion to other places in the Philippines.
Like the daring young boy
who wandered places to collect coconut shells to produce charcoal and
who drove tamaraw jeepney around outskirts of Zamboanga City, and went
far to work abroad and acquired quality international experience and
education, the man of current will soon take Samurai Halal Express to
the hearts of the Filipinos.
Cavite enterprise wins
back-to-back Katha Awards at IFEX Philippines
Kapfer and Rivera United
Inc. bags award for Processed Fruit and Vegetables with Puso ng Saging
May 23, 2017
CITY – Cavite-based Kapfer and Rivera United Inc., makers of the
‘Island Gems’ brand, won the 2017 Katha Award for Food for the Best
New Product Award for Processed Fruit & Vegetables category for its
ready-to-eat bottled Puso ng Saging at the recently concluded IFEX
Philippines held at the World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM) and
Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC).