Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

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Our sexual identity

Impeachment: What to Expect?

Agenda item for 2012

Enact Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill now!

RH is unreasonably expensive!

A stranger's thoughts of a place in her country

Laudable efforts of Kaisampalad Inc.

Basey Water District finally audited by LWUA

A blatant display of animosity from the South Wing

Human rights in crisis






Removing Lady Justice’s blindfold

March 8, 2012

“…Lady Justice also has to learn to remove the blindfold, so she can see, hear and talk to God and the parties involved.”

I can understand why Lady Justice is depicted as blindfolded, holding a balance scale and a sword. The idea is to portray justice as objective and impartial (blindfold), able to weigh the arguments and pieces of evidence from both parties (scale), always using reason and sense of justice to carry out her duty (double-edged sword).

For all those reasons, I am for Lady Justice blindfolded and all. They all have a place in the sun. We always have to respect, protect and defend these reasons.

But we also have to understand that those reasons are in constant need of rectification and improvement, of refinement and growing conformity to the ultimate basis of justice who is God. Though embodied in some system, they cannot be considered as frozen and rigid. They have to be in vital sync with God’s providence.

The balance scale can only weigh things mechanically. It can miss many subtle things, let alone the spiritual requirements of justice and charity. Our reason and a certain sense of justice are always in need of its ultimate grounding and orientation. They cannot really take off unless inspired by God. Without God they will just go in circles and are prone to be taken advantage of.

Justice cannot be real justice if it just gets stuck with our own idea alone of what is right and wrong, good and bad, true and false. No matter how wide a consensus we may have about what is just and unjust, if our idea and sense of justice is not vitally linked to God, we would just be making our own brand of justice, open to all kinds of manipulations and the subtle workings of self-righteousness.

Apart from God, the Creator and Author of all reality, we would be at sea as to what is right and fair. We would put ourselves prone to distortions and abuses that can come from our passions and many other factors, like some privileged position we may have over others. Our sense of justice has to flow with God’s mind, will and ways.

Obviously, we need structures and systems to carry out justice. But those structures and systems should be such that they remain open to God’s promptings and to the flowing developments of the case that can change the picture drastically. They have to be animated by a proper spirit of truth, justice and charity, not inert or dead.

This means that those in charge of dispensing justice should be spiritually alive and connected with God. Otherwise, they would be unhinged and can become like a floating mine, dangerous to any passing ship.

It’s for this reason that Lady Justice also has to learn to remove the blindfold, so she can see, hear and talk to God and the parties involved. It’s important that she has a running conversation with the all the parties involved. She should not get stuck with a fact in the past. She has to flow with life in its variety of possibilities.

What we have to avoid is to dispense justice indiscriminately, relying only on a blind conformity to the letter of the law without discerning its true spirit. We have to be wary of this tendency because there seems to be a strong drift toward it, a growing bias for it.

With the eyes of Lady Justice wide open, those in charge of dispensing justice can serve as instruments of God’s justice, and not just human justice, that aside from being imperfect, is vulnerable to be easily manipulated by those with more power, more money, more talents.

We cannot really guarantee the objectivity and impartiality of justice by having Lady Justice blindfolded and using only a balance scale and a double-edge sword. A lot more are needed.

There is need for Lady Justice to know how to dispense justice with charity and mercy and with healing qualities, and to protect justice from becoming merely an instrument for anger and revenge. Lady Justice has to expand the understanding of justice by going beyond her distributive, commutative, legal and social aspects.

Justice has to be the justice of God, because that in the end is what is proper to us who are God’s image and likeness, and made children of his. That may not be easy to achieve, but we can always try. We should use everything we have to reach it.

We should avoid confining our understanding of justice to a secularized, positivist kind, where God is taken out of the picture and only human consensus is considered.





Vocation can come in stealth

March 3, 2012

Making waves now in Hollywood is a documentary that features a former starlet who paired before and even kissed Elvis Presley (remember him?) and who is now a nun. I must say I’m not old enough to know this lady. Dolores Hart is the name and her before-and-after pictures indeed show similarities and the welcome differences.

When I mentioned this to some friends, they kidded me by saying that it would have been more fantastic if the lady involved was a James Bond girl. To which I replied, not to discount that possibility, since God can make a saint in anyone of us no matter how sinful we may be. He can write straight with crooked lines.

To be sure, everyone of us has a vocation. God calls all of us to be with him. He invites us to share his life and his work. We are all co-operators of his abiding providence. That’s why we are told that we have to “listen to him.” He always intervenes in our life. We just have to learn how to hear him and work with him.

This is what vocation is all about – living and working with God. Everyone’s vocation has been forged from all eternity, and we too have been wired for that. That’s why we have been created with intelligence and will. We can and should enter into a living relation with God.

Thus, it behooves all of us to develop a sense of vocation in our life. We need to exert the effort to know God and his will more and more by praying, meditating on the gospel and his doctrine, now taught by the Church, fulfilling the usual duties we have which are part of God’s will, etc.

But he can give some special vocation to some people precisely for some special purpose that would be good not only for the persons concerned but also and mainly for the whole Church.

Some are called to be apostles, teachers, priests, religious persons, or just committed laymen who seriously look for personal sanctity and work actively in the apostolate right in the middle of the world. We just have to accept what is given to us, and start appreciating the eternal and supernatural significance of the vocation.

God can manifest this vocation to us in some dramatic way, often involving drastic changes in the recipients. God can enter into our lives and make his will more felt by us in some special way. Though we cannot help it, we should try our best not to be surprised by these possibilities.

Consider St. Paul, St. Augustine, the apostles themselves, and the patriarchs and prophets like Abraham, Moses, Jonas, Jeremiah, etc. Consider St. Edith Stein, and our very own St. Lorenzo Ruiz and the soon-to-be-canonized Blessed Pedro Calungsod.

Their stories are full of drama and suspense. St. Paul received his vocation while on a mad campaign to arrest the early Christians. St. Augustine, though gifted intellectually, had a colourful past. The apostles were mainly simple people, mostly fishermen.

St. Edith was an intelligent Jewish agnostic before her conversion. And our own Filipino saints, present and future, were catechists doing some domestic work for some priests. All had their defects, and sins, and yet they became and are great saints.

Nothing is impossible with God, and with our trust and faith in him, we can also do what is impossible with God.

We have to feel at home with the idea, nay, the truth that all of us have a vocation. Let’s not play blind and deaf. God’s call is actually quite loud enough. And when we are given a special vocation, let’s not be afraid, but rather go for it at full throttle.

Ok, we may hesitate at first, we can have doubts, but if we are honest, we will soon see there’s nothing to be afraid about. God takes care of everything. All he needs is that we trust him, that we have faith in him, and that we try our best to cooperate.

Like death, this special vocation can come like a thief in the night. Whatever may our past, everything will be put right if there’s something in our past that is not quite right. The truth also is that even our mistakes and sins in the past and even in the present and future, if handled well, can turn out to be good sources and occasions of goodness.

So, there’s really no big problem. If there’s any, it’s usually just in our mind, when we don’t trust God enough.





CPP belies peace agreement with Aquino, Joema arrival

A press statement by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) belying reports that its founding chair Jose Ma. Sison is in the Philippines
February 28, 2012

Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), remains in his residence in Utrecht, The Netherlands. So-called intelligence reports claiming that he has slipped into to the Philippines are utterly lacking in intelligence. It simply took a phone call by DZRH's Joe Taruc yesterday morning to verify that Joema has not left Utrecht.

Absurd reports of Joema's return to the Philippines are being circulated by the anti-communist dullard Pastor Alcover and so-called intelligence personnel of the AFP. Alcover is working with right-wing zealots such as Norberto Gonzales, Roberto Intengan and other pro-Arroyo reactionaries to conjure the illusion that Benigno Aquino III has "sided with the communists." They are also seeking the attention of their US masters by projecting themselves as the more reliable puppets.

The fact, however, is that there is no peace agreement with the Aquino regime, and the possibility of forging one remains dim. The Aquino regime has set itself solidly behind the US imperialists and against the Filipino people's national and democratic interests.

Aquino is emboldened by US military support and has chosen to heed American advice to treat peace negotiations as a simple psywar tool to camouflage the brutality of its ongoing military campaign of suppression dubbed Oplan Bayanihan. With US support, the Aquino regime has chosen to keep NDFP peace consultants in detention in violation of standing agreements and continue committing gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

The CPP and the NDFP have repeatedly offered to forge an agreement based on the principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice. The Aquino regime, however, has chosen to disregard such proposals and has placed itself squarely against the people and their revolutionary cause of national and social liberation.





A statement to clarify the public in response to the misconception/mis-information disseminated by the military throughout Region VIII via print and broadcast media relative to the nature, character, objectives, programs and activities of the Tabang - Sinirangan Bisayas

February 21, 2012

We are compelled to take responsibility of informing the public as a matter of clarifying the issue brought into the public by the military, particularly the 19th IB PA through Lt. Col. Alejandro Nacnac, C.O., 19th IB, PA based in Kananga, Leyte relative to the nature, character, objectives, programs and/or activities of the TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS.

Simultaneous over three local broadcast media (DYBR, DYVL and DYDW radio stations) in Tacloban City yesterday, February 20, 2012, Lt. Col. Nacnac made mention that, “last year they had a plan to conduct a ‘Cluster Medical Mission’ in cooperation or partnership with the MUFAC (for Municipal United Farmers Association of Carigara) in Carigara, Leyte but TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS prevented them from doing such.”

We would like to strongly and categorically deny such malicious allegation based on the fact that since its creation couple of years now, TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS has never establish any relationship or communication line with the officers and men belonging to the 19th IB, PA based in Kananga, Leyte. Neither did we intend to prevent them in any manner from establishing relationship with MUFAC.

Also in February 16, 2012 issue of The Freeman newspaper, in its intentional campaign to implement the “Oplan Bayanihan” of the present Aquino regime, Lt. Col. Nacnac was quoted, “urging MUFAC not to be deceived and utilized by NPA-allied organizations.”

With the above statement, it is our considered suspicion, that the army officer was implicating TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS. Because last October 25-26, 2011, in response to the appeal of the MUFAC (whose members have been experiencing hardship and difficult situation resulting from both natural and man-made disasters), with the permission of the Local Government Unit of municipality of Carigara, Leyte, TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS conducted its second major project extending Relief and Mercy Mission in Carigara by distributing relief goods to around nine hundred (904) households in twenty one (21) barangays and extended medical services to six hundred fifty (650) individuals including seventy four (74) dental and forty (40) minor surgical operations like circumcision.

Once again, we would like to categorically deny the same malicious implication candidly clarifying that TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS is not an NPA-allied organization. The TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS exists with Mission Objectives aiming at: 1) Responding to the urgent appeal for assistance to the mission areas by delivering relief, medical, dental and psycho-social services; 2) Witnessing and documenting the poverty situation in the area and exploring ways to help in the rehabilitation in terms of livelihood; 3) Further encouraging cooperation among farmers to enhance livelihood and general well-being, and; 4) Maximizing the information gathered as lobbying points and guides for congress and other government agencies in the formulation of laws and policies that are beneficial to the citizens in Eastern Visayas.

Its mission is principled-based emulating that of Good Samaritan responding in compassion prioritizing those people in the far-flung communities regardless of who they are who lack with the accessibility to basic social services of the present government.

If it is the allegation of the men in uniform (military and/or police) that TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS mission of “helping the poor, feeding the hungry, aiming at a true change” as its slogan states, is an NPA-allied activity, then they are free to judge according to their perspective.

But the moral question that TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS stands are as follows: Is helping the poor, feeding the hungry and healing the sick among others regardless of their religion and/or ideology an evil act? We do not believe it is! Is doing such humanitarian act would mean that TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS an ally of the NPA? We vehemently and categorically deny that we are!

Such irresponsible and malicious labelling of the military to TABANG-SB reminds us when Bishop Dom Helder Camara of Latin America, in his ministry in solidarity with the struggle for social justice and national liberation of his poor countrymen once said, “When I give food to the hungry, they called me a Saint; But when I asked them why they are poor, they called me a Communist.”

We, therefore, strongly condemn the above-mentioned malicious allegations and implications or labelling by the military officer, Lt. Col. Alejandro Nacnac!

We call on the public to be objective in reading and/or listening issues relative to the life-work of TABANG-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS.





The 7th C challenge

February 18, 2012

I’m referring to the 7th commandment of the Decalogue and the huge challenge it poses.

In the Catechism, we are told that this commandment of “You shall not steal,”  “requires respect for the universal destination and distribution of goods and the private ownership of them, as well as respect for persons, their property and the integrity of creation.” (Compendium 503)

It also adds: “The Church also finds in this commandment the basis for her social doctrine which involves the correct way of acting in economic, social and political life, the right and the duty of human labor, justice and solidarity among nations, and love for the poor.”

In whatever way we read this point, we cannot help but realize that the commandment covers a large area of our life, nothing less than all the aspects involved in our relation with the material world in which we live. Stealing can indeed take many forms and we need to be more familiar with the more subtle and insidious ones.

We have to work hard on this commandment. The world’s development is going in an accelerated pace, population is growing and more and more people need to be educated and evangelized.

I must say that the idea of the universal destination and distribution of goods, for example, is not well known, not to mention the other equally important parts of the commandment.

Can we honestly say that we are working toward this universal destination and distribution of goods? How come there are many people in the brink of such inhuman poverty and misery, while a few are wallowing in luxury?

Are we aware of the specific relevant areas in this matter that have to be attended to with a certain sense of urgency, since the situation literally cries up to heaven for help?

How do we make this requirement of universal destination and distribution of goods compatible with the equally important right to private property? How do we keep ourselves from the evils of atheistic socialism, on the one hand, and selfish, individualistic capitalism, on the other?

What laws are we making in this regard, what social and cultural norms and practices are we instituting to guarantee this ideal? In the face of this need, is the ongoing impeachment process in the Senate worth its time and money?

At the moment, I think that the trial is way deep into its absurdest stage, with shameless politicians taking advantage of the people’s resources and patience just to do their grandstanding and pursue their personal political goals, instead of facing the real problems of the country.

The 7th commandment also talks about the social doctrine of the Church and touches on the burning issues of the day, like what to think and do about global warming, or is it now climate change?, mining and other environmental issues, and the many other issues like intellectual property rights, social justice, etc.

We need to be pro-active in this regard, and not simply reactive, just waiting for things to happen or issues or controversies to explode, which ideologues of various colors and leanings exploit. There has to be continuing evangelization and formation, done in season and out of season, as St. Paul said, using now all the modern means we have at hand.

The social doctrine of the Church, while it has its stable core and spirit, is actually a dynamic doctrine, always open and sensitive to new developments and insights that we can gather along the way. It blends the old and the new, the traditional and the modern.

In this regard, I just hope that our Church leaders are agile and flexible enough to flow with the times without compromising the essence of humanity and Christianity. I believe there had been instances where some pronouncements of some of them worried me a bit because of what I thought were rigid, narrow-minded statements. Anyway, sometimes mistakes have to happen before the truth comes out.

Churchmen should be most careful when making public interventions regarding temporal issues and affairs. This caution should not hinder them in making those interventions which nowadays are becoming more and more important. But they have to make sure that all sides are heard and properly evaluated.

The affirmations of our faith should always be respectful of the legitimate inputs coming from the sciences and the opinions of people, whoever they may be. Thus, Church leaders should always keep their ears on the ground even if they keep their heart up in heaven.

Let’s tackle this 7th C challenge!





Human Rights Council, Nineteenth Session, Agenda Item 3, Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

Action required to address ongoing abuses of the legal system used to target human rights defenders

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status
February 17, 2012

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) submitted a written statement to the tenth session of the Human Rights Council in March 2009 concerning a growing pattern of the abusive use of prosecutorial powers and the country’s judicial process in order to detain human rights and political activists, and prevent their work in favour of the rights of the disenfranchised. The Philippines' government and military have been repeatedly condemned for the widespread extra-judicial killings that had targeted such actors over the previous decade, leading to hundreds of deaths. As such pressure led to a reduction in these killings, abusive use of the legal system has grown to continue this repression.

Despite some welcome approaches and actions taken by the current government to bolster human rights in the country, these have remained superficial and do not address the fundamental flaws in the systemic and institutional rule of law mechanisms that are needed in order to put an end to the deeply insecure climate for human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations in the country, or to tackle the entrenched systems of impunity that prevail in relation to these abuses. The ALRC therefore wishes to again highlight this ongoing problem, providing key examples to illustrate how it operates, and calls on the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Human Rights Council members and observer States to intervene with the government of the Philippines to ensure the necessary reforms required to ensure an end to abusive prosecutions of human rights defenders.

The ALRC previously highlighted the case of labour lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr. and 20 other activists, who had been arbitrarily charged with multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder in Calapan City, with six of them (including Remigio Saladero Jr.) having been arrested and the others having been forced into hiding as a result. While a Calapan City Regional Trial Court ruled to release those detained and drop the charges against them on February 5, 2009, a few days later, on February 11, 2009, Remigio and his fellow respondents, were once again informed of another murder charge arbitrarily being laid against them. This concerned the killing of Ricky Garmino, 37, a member of a government paramilitary group, the Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), on July 29, 2008. Witness accounts however point to the Narciso Antazo Aramil Command of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People Army (CPP-NPA) operating in Rizal province as the perpetrators of this killing.

It is worth noting that attorney Remigio Saladero Jr. was working to defend the rights of 19 workers and members of the local chapter of the Congress Labor Organization (CLO), who have faced prolonged arbitrary detention and false charges in relation to a strike that they held on May 2, 2007, concerning a pay dispute and to protest against the illegal dismissal of fellow workers.

In its previous statement, the ALRC highlighted the role of the country’s Inter-Agency Legal Assistance Group (IALAG) in distorting the criminal justice system and enabling the arbitrary prosecution of activists, as seen in the case above. In April 2008, Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, had recommended the abolition of the IALAG. In a welcome move, the government has since abolished the IALAG in May 15, 2009, however, as will be seen below, such abusive prosecutions continue to take place, pointing to a need for further action by the government to address more deep-seated systemic failings.

The current prosecution of human rights defender Temogen "Cocoy" Tulawie and four co-accused on charges of multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder for allegedly 'masterminding' and 'plotting' to assassinate Abdusakur Tan, the present governor of Sulu, in a bomb attack on May 13, 2009, in Patikul, Sulu, is particularly illustrative of the ongoing problem of abusive legal targeting of activists. The evidence against them in this case is based on forced confessions by two of the accused, which they have since recanted. Tulawie was forced into hiding out of concern that he would not receive a fair trial in Sulu, but was arrested on January 13, 2012 in Davao City.

On May 26, 2009, the police in Patikul, Sulu, arrested two persons – Sulayman Muhammad Muin and Juhan Alihuddin – who were allegedly involved in the bomb attack. Under interrogation, Muin implicated Tulawie as the "mastermind and who provided the single motorcycle planted with (an) Improvised Explosive Device (IED) used in their plan to assassinate the governor". Muin also implicated three others, Alihuddin, Muammar Askali and a certain Abs, supposedly as his accomplices. Alihuddin was also forced to implicate Tulawie, Muammar and Sulayman. However, they both later recanted these confessions and claimed they had been forced to make "extrajudicial statements." Three witnesses have confirmed Tulawie's alibi, and four others have confirmed the alibi of co-accused Askali.

Despite this, Prosecutor Cabaron arbitrarily decided on July 22, 2009, that there was probable cause in filing murder charges in court against the five accused and that the recanted statements obtained under duress were credible and admissible as evidence.

Prior to his arrest, on June 13, 2011, the Supreme Court (SC) had granted Tulawie's petition to transfer the trial of his case from Jolo, Sulu to Davao City, due to concerns about the prospect for a fair trial in Sulu. The SC acknowledged the severity of insecurity and threats in Sulu, stating that: "…there is an indication of actual and imminent threat to the life of the petitioner and his family, as well as his witnesses, as found by the Court of Appeals..." For seven months, the Clerk of Court (CoC) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 3, Jolo, Sulu, ignored the SC's order, while the court’s Judge Betlee-Ian Barraquias has taken action, in defiance of the SC’s order, to have Tulawie transferred to his jurisdiction and threatened administrative action for obstruction of justice and contempt of court against those refusing to do so.

This case is an evident situation of baseless and flawed legal reprisals against a human rights defender by the authorities and the ALRC therefore calls for the Department of Justice (DoJ) to withdraw without delay the murder charges against Tulawie and his co-accused. Beyond this, the case sheds light on the lack of accountability of local prosecutors and courts with regard to the Supreme Court and points to deep flaws within the institutions of the rule of law.

The ALRC has documented a number of other cases showing the arbitrary and abusive use of prosecutions that speak to a pattern of repression against human rights defenders and activists. This is enabled by systemic flaws and a lack of effective accountability systems within the Philippines’ State machinery.

Further examples include the case of eleven activists who were arbitrarily charged in relation to an attack on the military. On August 16, 2010, Mr. Esperidion R. Solano, assistant provincial prosecutor in Camarines Sur province, sent subpoenas to eleven activists and several others to respond to a murder complaint by the military concerning their alleged involvement in an attack by the New People's Army (NPA) rebel group on the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army’s Camp Elias Angeles, Caboclodan, San Jose, Pili.

The complaint, which comprised two counts of murder, four counts of frustrated murder, three counts of 'carnapping' (stealing a vehicle) and a special case of malicious mischief, relied heavily on the testimony of one witness, Edwin Nazarionda, who claimed that the eleven activists took part in the executive meeting of political party Bayan Muna on April 28, 2006, during which the attack was allegedly planned. Two former members of the NPA also provided sworn statements claiming the involvement of the activists.

There are major doubts as to the credibility of the witnesses, on whose statements alone the case is based, and the ALRC believes that they are in fact false witnesses being used by the military to concoct these charges against the activists in question. Attempting to charge persons involved in the defence of human rights or political activism that runs contrary to the interests of those in power, by implicating them in acts of violence or terrorism by armed groups, has been a typical tactic used by the authorities, including in order to justify the many extra-judicial killings that have taken place over the last decade. In this case, serious flaws in their sworn testimonies that led to the persons being charged include the fact that none of these witnesses identified all the respondents as being involved and physically present during the attack.

Furthermore, valid alibis have been discounted in the process, all of which point to an effort to arbitrarily persecute these activists. For example, one of the human rights defenders in question, Mr. Leo Caballero, a correspondent for the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights in Bicol region and head of the Human Rights Department of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)-Bicol, was not present during the meeting that Nazarionda cites in his testimony. He was participating in a regional fact-finding mission investigating a case of extrajudicial killing and was performing documented radio and other media interviews. Furthermore, when the attack took place he was at the regional council meeting of NGO KARAPATAN in Legazpi City, Albay from May 25 to 27, 2006.

Given all of the above, the ALRC calls on the government of the Philippines to take all steps necessary to ensure effective oversight of the prosecutorial services, notably by ensuring that the Department of Justice launches an effective inquiry into the problem of false prosecutions, in order to establish systemic lacuna as well as individual responsibility concerning such cases, and recommend and implement measures to address these. This is required in order to deter and punish arbitrary and legally flawed actions being taken by officials with impunity, and ensure a halt to the pattern of abusive prosecutions and the use of false charges against human rights defenders and activists in particular. Similarly, the Supreme Court of the Philippines is urged to launch an inquiry into the role of the judiciary in allowing false and arbitrary prosecutions to proceed, in order to halt this practice and punish all those who participate in these travesties of justice.

The ALRC also calls upon the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders to intervene with the government of the Philippines in order to express concern at the use of such arbitrary prosecutions and other forms of repression against human rights defenders through abusive use of the legal system, and to request a visit to the country in order to monitor this situation and assist the government in halting such practices.

Furthermore, the ALRC calls on the members of the Human Rights Council to intervene with the government of the Philippines to ensure that it takes all steps necessary to halt the phenomenon of arbitrary legal attacks against human rights defenders, as this is creating a climate of fear and repression that is seriously undermining efforts to uphold and protect human rights across the country.

Finally, the ALRC calls on all members of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group to recommend that the government of the Philippines take all the necessary steps cited above to ensure effective oversight of the prosecution services, to deter further false prosecutions of activists and to punish those involved in such acts of injustice with appropriate sanctions that reflect the gravity of their actions.



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