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CHR asks PH gov’t to cooperate with UNHRC probe

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday called on the Philippine government to fully cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as it sets to conduct a review of the human rights situation in the country.

On Thursday (July 11), the UN rights council adopted an Iceland-led resolution which seeks a comprehensive written report on the Philippines’ human rights situation due to allegations of violations, particularly in the conduct of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

It also asked the government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, including preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation of retaliations on human rights defenders.

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to take up measures against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, conduct impartial investigations of human rights violations and hold those involved accountable.

Eighteen countries, mostly from Europe, voted for the resolution; 14 voted against it while 15 others abstained.

With the adoption of the resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines human rights situation by June 2020.

In a statement, the CHR said that rather than “maintaining acrimony and the hurling of threats of possible consequences,” the Philippine government should open spaces for dialogue with other nations “to show that it has nothing to hide and is willing to adhere to the global standards expected of a member of the UNHRC.”

“It must show both the international community & our own people that it is willing & able to hold perpetrators to account, to protect all human rights defenders, to stop the killings, & to end impunity,” added the agency, which it says, is an independent institution mandated by the Constitution to monitor State compliance with all human rights norms and standards.

The CHR also reiterated its previous calls for the government to allow “thorough, transparent, and independent investigations of all alleged violations of human rights in the country by demonstrating to the world that “our local mechanisms are genuinely working and are sufficient to address demands for justice and the rule of law to prevail.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin earlier rejected the Iceland-led resolution and warned of “far-reaching consequences” for nations who supported the resolution.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said the adoption of the ‘grotesquely one-sided’ resolution is an insult to the majority of Filipinos who expressed satisfaction with the kind of “forceful and effective” governance of President Duterte.

READ: Palace slams UN resolution as ‘grotesquely one-sided’ and ‘insulting’

President Duterte, on the other hand, said UN investigators should first state their purpose and he will review if they will be allowed into the country.

“Kasi kung magdagdag lang sila sa intriga, they better go to the media and the media will tell them the truth. Eh ipalabas ninyo ‘yung footages ninyong lahat and all, and that will clear everybody,” Duterte said.

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Senators expect to hear salary, labor, sea dispute issues in Duterte 4th SONA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, July 20th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, some senators have already picked out certain topics that they want the Chief Executive to discuss in his speech.

According to Senator Sonny Angara, he expects the president to outline his plans not only for his remaining three years in office but for the next decade.

In particular, Angara said the 2020 national budget should lay down the framework for the 10-year development plan for the country.

“This should result in the next administration building on what the President has achieved and what he started during his term and not the perennial focus on going after its predecessors,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker added he would also like to hear the president fulfilling his promise of raising the teachers’ salaries, as well as his plan on creating more jobs and livelihood opportunities for Filipino workers.

“We want to see the creation of more jobs and opportunities for the Filipino people so that they are able to improve their lives and no longer see the need to go abroad in order to make ends meet,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said he wants to hear during the president’s SONA the administration’s commitment to further protect and promote the interests of Filipino workers.

READ: Villanueva expects gov’t commitment to protect Filipino workers on Duterte SONA

Villanueva said he is particularly eager to find out the outcome of the Security of Tenure bill, popularly known as the “End Endo” bill, which seeks to put an end to the practice of illegal labor contracting.

“The bill adheres to the Constitution, which mandates the regulation of relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth,” he said.

“Thus, the Security of Tenure bill manages to strike a balance between contrasting interests of labor and employers,” he added.

For Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel, he wants to hear about the president’s priority bills, as well as his view on the surge of illegal foreign workers in the country.

“His priorities for one year usually, and then priorities for the last second half of his term,” he said.

Aside from labor issues, Senator Risa Hontiveros also expects the president to tackle in his speech the issue on the West Philippine Sea and the country’s assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the disputed waters.

“Wish ko lang na sasabihin ni Presidente na sa wakas after 3 years ay i-champion na niya, itataguyod yung tagumpay natin vis a vis China sa West Philippine Sea,” she said.

Duterte has been facing criticisms over his stance on China’s continued trawling in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

He earlier stressed that his position on allowing Chinese fishermen access to Philippine waters was not a violation of the Philippine constitution. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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Filipinos want Duterte to tackle inflation, jobs, China in 4th SONA – Pulse Asia

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Workers’ pay, inflation and jobs have topped the list of issues that Filipinos would like President Rodrigo Duterte to tackle during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, a survey conducted by Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated revealed Friday.

The survey, conducted from June 24 to 30, showed that 17.1 percent of the 1,200 respondents said they want to hear Duterte talk about workers’ salaries, while another 17.1 percent wanted him to discuss about plans in reducing the prices of basic commodities.

Meanwhile, 15.2 percent of the respondents said they would like to hear Duterte’s accomplishments and plans on generating more jobs or livelihood opportunities.

Other topics Filipinos want the president to mention in his speech on Monday are the issues surrounding the relations between the Philippines and China (9.2 percent), particularly the assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (6.1 percent) and the country’s policy in relation to China (3.1 percent).

Some 7.8 percent of the respondents also want to hear about the government’s war on drugs during Duterte’s SONA, 5.9 percent wanted him to discuss about improving the agricultural sector while 2.6 percent said they want pension increase to be tackled.

For residents in Metro Manila, the top issues they want discussed in Duterte’s SONA are the Philippine-China ties (20.2 percent), employment (18.3 percent), workers’ pay (16.6 percent) and prices of goods (10.7 percent).

The rest of Luzon cited salaries, while Visayans and Mindanaons want the president to talk about inflation, the survey showed.

The study also revealed that 75 percent of Filipino adults were aware of Duterte’s previous SONAs. Majority awareness levels are recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, the Pulse Asia said.

The pollster said it has 95 percent confidence level in the survey results with an error margin of +/-2.8 percent.

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Villanueva expects gov’t commitment to protect Filipino workers on Duterte SONA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Senator Joel Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday said he is looking forward to hearing President Rodrigo Duterte’s push to protect and promote the interests of Filipino workers in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22 (Monday).

In a statement, Villanueva said he is particularly eager to find out the outcome of the Security of Tenure bill, popularly known as the “End Endo” bill, which seeks to put an end to the practice of illegal labor contracting.

The president asked Congress to pass the bill at last year’s SONA, certifying the measure as urgent. Congress was able to pass the bill in the 17th Congress and transmitted it to Malacañang last month.

“The bill adheres to the Constitution, which mandates the regulation of relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth,” Gatchalian said.

“Thus, the Security of Tenure bill manages to strike a balance between contrasting interests of labor and employers,” he added.

Villanueva expressed hope that Duterte would sign the measure into law.

The lawmaker also expects the president to discuss other measures that will advocate for the interest of Filipino labor.

He cited the rise of illegal foreign workers and the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) sector as a growing cause for concern, saying its effects to the country’s economy must be carefully monitored.

“We have to be careful about this new industry because the benefits we stand to lose may be greater than those we could gain,” Villanueva said.

He said he intended to file a resolution to examine the supposed benefits from the POGO industry.

Villanueva reiterated his earlier position that POGO sector’s impact is minimal, at best, since it primarily does not create employment opportunities for Filipinos, and the industry’s rise is causing stress in the real estate market to the detriment of Filipino businesses and workers.

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