Gov't, civil society craft national human rights action plan
By Minerva BC Newman
Cebu City (8 October) -- More than a hundred officials and partners from the government executive agencies and civil society from regions 6, 7 and 8 converged in Cebu City today for the 4th area consultation in crafting additional local inputs to the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRA).
Executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC), in a statement read by USEC Severo Catura, said "the consultation will put in place the much-needed public policies, programs, and resources with human rights standards."
The Cebu leg is the fourth in a series of area consultations that begun in Manila in August 2009 and to be completed in December through a national summit, Catura added.
Catura, who is also the executive director of PHRC further said, the area consultation is a problem solving mechanism. It aims to instill national ownership of the plan in as many stakeholders as possible.
"We are pushing for a new and a broader way of looking at human rights as it would impact the full development of our people and the nation as a whole," he said.
Ermita in his statement also said, the consultation hopes to address human rights issues at their roots. It involves more than identifying wrongdoers and exhorting government to improve on its obligations.
"Largely, we will venture to capacitate and empower all sectors of Philippine society to claim and extend these human rights obligations and entitlements, bringing out genuine improvement at all levels of governance in the country," Ermita stated.
Ermita added that the NHRAP becomes the expression of "our political will" and perhaps, one of the legacies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to ensure that human rights protection and promotion becomes a matter of policy that will transcend politics.
In similar developments, Commission on Human Rights (CHR-7) regional director Atty. Alejandro Alonzo, in his message in behalf of secretary Leila De Lima, said the Philippine government's commitments in the promotion, advocacy and protection of human rights can not be done only by certain agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights and the Presidential Human Rights Committee.
"It needs the support of all other government agencies and other organizations that are engaged in promoting, advocacy and protection of human rights," Alonzo added.
"The government's commitments must be shown through a concrete manifestation of its human rights promotion and protection to comply with its legal human rights obligations to the international community," Alonzo stressed.
He added that the government is duty bound to promote, advocate and protect all the human rights of all sectors in society especially the rights of the most vulnerable sectors such as the elderly, children, women, migrant workers, others.
Alonzo reiterated that the National Human Rights Action Plan becomes a guide as to what the government must and should do to respect, protect and fulfill human rights commitments.
The next and last consultation will be held in General Santos for cluster 5 comprising regions 11, 12 and ARMM.
Earlier consultations were done in Manila last August 27-28 for cluster 2 comprising regions 3, 4, 5 and the NCR while for cluster 1 comprising regions 1, 2 and CAR the consultation was done in Baguio City on September 9-10, 2009 and in Cagayan de oro City for cluster 4 comprising regions 9, 10 and CARAGA.
Hopefully, the output of the series of consultations throughout the country is a legislative agenda on Human Rights. This piece of document will then be presented to the international community specifically, the United Nations that monitors human rights commitments.
The Philippines is a state party to about 26 international laws, treaties and covenants on human rights promotion, advocacy and protection. (PIA-7) [top]