Sulong CARHRIHL conducts seminar-workshop on human rights and int’l humanitarian law

Talisay City, Negros Occidental – On June 15-17, 2007, Sulong CARHRIHL, Karapatang Pantao Tungo sa Kalinaw, a non-governmental organization (NGO) and the Paghiliusa Sa Paghidaet sa Negros (PSPN) conducted a seminar-workshop training on promoting peace through the observance of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) – National Democratic Front (NDF) – Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Human Law (CARHRIHL) at the former CICM Maryshore Seminary, Talisay City.

Sulong CARHRIHL is a nationwide network of individuals, organizations, institutions and programs who uphold human rights and international human law as a means to build a just and lasting peace. Its initial conveners are made up of coalitions like the Philippine Coalition to Stop the Use of Children as Soldiers, Paghiliusa Sa Paghidaet sa Negros (PSPN); academic institutions, programs and personalities like the UP Program on Peace, Democratization and Human Rights; religious institutions, programs, and personalities like the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), Most Rev. Vicente M. Navarra, Bishop of Bacolod; and NGOs like Third World Movement Against the Exploitation of Women, Amnesty International and Initiatives for International Dialogue, among others.

The three-day seminar-workshop training was attended by 30 representatives from various people’s organizations, NGO’s and church groups in Negros Island. The training was handled by Sulong CARHRIHL’s Training Officer, Karen Tanada together with co-conveners Marco Paa Puzon, Jasmin Nario Galace and Catherine Cerillo.

The purpose of this seminar-workshop training is to make civilians, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), and the Philippine military aware of human rights and international human law and to apply the same in the fronts especially with regards to civilians, children and minors. The beginning of this Agreement was the 1986 peace talks between the GRP–NDF that led to the forging of a 60-day Bilateral Ceasefire between the two groups on 10 December 1986. Unfortunately, there was a breakdown of the talks in January 1987 that lead to further intensified military operations between the warring groups.

The armed conflict between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF has been ongoing for the last 40 years. Both conflict parties acknowledge that the conflict is rooted in social and political iniquities and that the conflict has caused the loss of many lives, displacement of communities and stifled development. The conflict cost the loss of countless of lives and limbs, emergence of the cycle of violence and injustice, diversion of scarce resources to war efforts, disruption of development efforts and the destruction of the environment.

In 1992 to 2004, various key peace agreements and declarations were signed between the two groups namely: The Hague Declaration (1 September 1992); Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) 24 February 1995; Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (JARWOC) 26 June 1995; Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Human Law (CARHRIHL) 16 March 1998; and the Joint Oslo Statement and Annexes (February 2004).

Sulong CARHRIHL hopes that all armed groups in the Philippines and the Philippine military and law enforcement units and their personnel observe and respect human rights and the international human law. The people’s awareness is the first step towards this observance in as much as the people can insist on the observance by all groups.

The difficulties identified in the conduct of continuing peace process was due to the none observance of the schedules because of several breakdowns. The Ramos administration preferred to have first a ceasefire in place. The Estrada administration favored localized talks. The GMA administration wanted to have only one single, comprehensive peace agreement. Many issues also led to the recurring suspension of talks such as the NPA capture of AFP personnel and the assassination of Cagayan representative Rolando Aguinaldo which the government protested. The NDF in turn protested the signing of the Visiting Forces Agreement in 1999 and the terrorist listing of the CPP-NPA and Jose Ma. Sison in 2003.

Bishops’ Forum asks gov’t to resume peace talks with Reds

In order to attain just and long lasting peace, the members of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF), an alliance of bishops coming from different Christian denominations in the country, asked the government to resume the pending peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a joint pastoral statement released after the three-day peace conference held in Cebu City last July 24-26, Most Rev. Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kalookan and Rev. Bp. Solito K. Toquero of the United Methodist Church (UMC), said that there is an urgent need for the resumption of the impending peace talks.

“Within this context, we join our people’s calls… To resume the GRP-NDFP formal peace talks aimed at attaining a just and lasting peace by addressing the social, economic and political roots of the armed conflict, reconvening of the Joint Monitoring Committee and the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL),” reads the EBF statement.

Besides the resumption of the formal peace negotiations between the communist insurgents, the EBF also asked for the following: 1) To scrap the VAT, especially the E-VAT on oil products, being unjust and onerous impositions by the IMF designed to ascertain capacity to service foreign debts, and resulting in increasingly unbearable tax burden on the Filipino people; 2) To repeal the oil deregulation law since this law makes the government fully supportive of the transnational corporations’ unstoppable profiteering on oil prices that puts our people in abject poverty; 3) To stop militarization of the countryside as it makes the people victims of state power, especially women and children. This has resulted in numerous cases of human rights violations; 4) To hasten the approval and implementation of the proposed P125 across the board wage increase nationwide; and 5) To demand for an effective and genuine land reform program that will address the long-standing problem of landlessness of poor and marginalized Filipino farmers.

“With the vision of a Philippine society enjoying the fruits of genuine democracy and freedom from dehumanizing poverty, we add our voices to all peace-loving Filipinos in demanding Economic Justice for the sake of Peace!,” the EBF statement further read.

Ending the statement, are passages from Micah 4: 1, 3: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountain. And it shall be lifted up above the hills and peoples shall flow to it. He shall judge between many peoples and shall decide for strong nations afar off and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up swords against nations neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Noel Barcelona)

Our Rights, Our Peace

arakanbmp1Sulong CARHRIHL is a nationwide network of individuals, organizations, institutions, and programs who uphold human rights and international humanitarian law as a means to build a just and lasting peace.

We believe in active conflict prevention through education, vigilance, engagement and long-term peace and human rights norm-building. As a “third-party” network, we maintain our autonomy. We will campaign for the observance and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in order to prevent violations. We will help human rights victims seek protection and justice, and ensure that the processes and structures of the CARHRIHL are responsive.

Our co-convenors include academic and religious institutions, peace and human rights groups, development NGOs, and various coalitions. The first regional chapter in Bicol, Southern Luzon is led by the Bicol Regional Social Action Centers (BRSACs). Provincial partners and chapters in Mindoro and the Visayas islands, in the Cordilleras and other parts of the country provide the backbone of its national network. A Sulong CARHRIHL Youth Arm mobilizes young people to have a stake in peace and human rights.

Institutions and individuals are welcome to join the network based on the principle of inclusiveness and criteria of self-acknowledged autonomy and independence.

The KUMARE Club

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764943673_5d5244f961_m The Barangay Peace and Order Councils of Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Capalong, Llavac, Tanauan, Cauayan, Tagumpay, Kiloloron, and Lubayat, and participants from Gen. Nakar went through a CARHRIHL training in Bahay Carmelo in Quezon.

During the workshops, the following problems were identified in the area: poverty, illegal logging, corruption, electricity, and the potential negative impact of the construction of the Laiban and Kanan dams. Sulong CARHRIHL of Metro Real was organized after the training, and a pool of trainers for CARHRIHL was identified.

March 22-26, 2007 : Calbayog, Samar
Representatives from the Social Action Center of Calbayog, Basic Ecclesiastical Community Workers from Calbiga, Calbayog, Catbalogan, Basey and San Juan de Buan, the Calbayog Media Group and the Local Government Unit of Calbayog participated in the 3-day training.

In the IHL discussion, some of the participants shared their experiences throughout Gen. Jovito Palparan’s tour of duty in Samar. A lot of frightened families decided to move to Manila and other places permanently. In Basey, there were two attempted landmine attacks by the NPAs when the LGU refused them support.

February 12-16, 2007: Maria Aurora, Aurora province

Sulong CARHRIHL, in cooperation with PNRC-Baler, the Social Action Center of Maria Aurora, Prelature of Infanta and participants coming from the SAC-Maria Aurora and Dumagat tribes, launched a three-day training/seminar on CARHRIHL for said recipients.

18 participants from the Dumagat tribes of Sitios and Barangays Calabagan, Simbahan, San Ildefonso, Niyog, Cozo, 08, and Balugan of the town of Casiguran, SAC staff from Maria Aurora, Aurora and representatives from the Philippine National Red Cross-Baler Chapter attended the seminar.

The Mangyan Vote

Political violence during the election period has many, many less blatant, and extremely subtler forms. No one may be killed. People may in fact be feted with food and free rides. Seemingly harmless, even fun, these dirty tricks involve intimidation and distort the electoral process as well.

Let’s take the case of the Mangyans of Mindoro Occidental.

Unlike other indigenous groups, the Mangyans are not known for being fierce warriors. Faced with the aggression of outsiders, they flee rather than fight.

Their votes may be few. But in this game of numbers, they have not escaped the machinations of unscrupulous politicians.

In past election years, according to Fr. Philip Alcantara of the Vicariate of San Jose, Mangyans were rounded up a day or so before election, kept, and fed in holding places. There they were given “literacy classes”. In short, they were taught how to spell and write the politician’s name.

Then they were brought to their precincts where they were made to hone their writing skills.

In other instances when they were known to favor the political opponent, they were just kept busy with free movies the whole election day — and prevented from voting.

Either way, for the Vicariate of San Jose, Mindoro Occidental, the Mangyans’ innocence has been exploited, their will molested far too many times.

This year, Bishop Antonio Palang’s vicariate and Mangyan leaders of the Federation of Mangyan Tribes agreed they will put a stop to this old practice that is almost as old as the elections in Mindoro itself.

In a pastoral letter read in the local parishes on May 6, Bishop Palang decried the practice of surreptitiously detaining the Mangyans on and before election day.

Seeing the constraints faced by the disadvantaged Mangyan voters who trek long distances to get to their precincts, the Vicariate had tried to secure additional voting precincts to be located in places where Mangyans can easily congregate. But COMELEC was not able to give this to them.

Asked by the Mangyans what the church’s alternative is, the Vicariate is taking more steps — putting their resources where their mouth is, so to speak.

The diocese is buying eighty cavans of rice, several boxes of canned goods and noodles. Some of this will be “baon” – to be eaten by the Mangyans on their way back the mountain trail.

For their part, the Mangyan tribal organizations will put up makeshift kitchens near the voting centers where Mangyan voters can rest and eat, beholden to no politician, and free to exercise their right to choose.

It’s a novel initiative, and hopefully it will work.

It will also be a test of Mangyan leadership. Politicians got away with their antics in the past because other Mangyans worked for them. The tribal organizations must now show they can stop to these practices, get the full cooperation of their fellow Mangyans, and efficiently run a kitchen as well!

The past years have been a series of tests for the diocese and the Mangyans. For one, in this election, the local church’s neutrality is being damaged by the candidacy of a priest who is being backed up by a discredited politician. In fact, some believe, this is the real intent in fielding the priest, who has since been suspended by the church.

Aside from administering to spiritual needs, the vicariate has been stretched to its limits by social and economic concerns like mining and agricultural productivity. On top of this, it serves as the backbone of the citizen election monitoring machineries that have been put up, such as the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.

In the midst of armed conflict, the vicariate and the tribal federation have also pioneered in engaging both the AFP and the New People’s Army in dialogues where they secured guarantees for the safety of the Mangyans and their hinterland communities that have intermittently served as recruitment base and battleground of the warring camps.

Diocesan priests have negotiated the release of badly treated Mangyans accused of being NPA members. Several times, they facilitated clearing the names and allowing the safe return of suspected tribesmen (among them children) to their community.

At one time, shortly after one more Globe cell site in Mindoro Occidental was destroyed, Fr. Philip debated with the former provincial NPA commander over the airwaves on the demerits of blasting cell sites. The commander wasn’t convinced. But the people listening in heard all sides and made their own informed judgment (you can listen to this broadcast at www.sulongnetwork.ph).

According to agreements forged with the local AFP and police commands, Mangyan leaders will be warned of an impending military operation so they can move their community to safety, they cannot be arbitrarily picked up for questioning, their sacred grounds will not be trampled upon during military operations, and so on.

These agreements have not been totally observed. But at least, some local AFP officers have become more conscious of their men’s actuations, handing over to the church Mangyans in their custody when demanded, and maintaining open lines to thresh out complaints.

Slowly, the Mangyans are building their collective strength founded on awareness of their rights and pride in themselves. Soon the Mangyan vote will not just be a vote for this or that politician. It will be a solid voice for the protection of their land, life, culture and right to peace.

Leftist killings a state-sanctioned policy?

FINDINGS of an international fact-finding mission looking into the tide of political assassinations since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001 appear to give credence to the theory that the killings are part of a national security policy adopted by the Arroyo administration with regards to the communist Left.

The 68-member International Peasant Solidarity Mission (IPSM), which included 16 foreign participants from nongovernment and people’s organizations in the United States, Belgium, Canada, The Netherlands, Japan, and Nepal, said there were clear indications of the military’s culpability, including controversial Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, in most cases of extra-judicial killings of leftist activists. The conclusion was based on testimonies gathered from the victims’ families during the three-day mission that investigated cases in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog, where many of the killings happened.

Miriam Coronel Ferrer, associate professor of political science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, first posited the theory about the killings being sanctioned by the Arroyo government’s national security policy in an essay published in the June issue of Sulong Update. Sulong is the publication of Sulong CARHRIHL, a citizens’ network promoting the observance of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Ferrer said Arroyo’s national security policy is founded on the two conjoined impetus of a global war against terrorism and the continued opposition to Arroyo’s rule. The Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and NDF have been singled out in the anti-terrorism campaign while the national democratic left is seen to play a visible role in efforts to oust Arroyo, she pointed out.

These reasons, Ferrer said, effectively make the national democratic left the Number One enemy of the Arroyo government. So it is not at all surprising, she added, that the national democratic left is being attacked through military, political and extra-judicial means.

Ferrer said such policy was foreshadowed by the alarm from within the administration over the good electoral showing of the national democratic party-list groups, alongside the CPP-NPA-NDF’s use of force during the elections in 2001, and which was further validated by their good showing in the 2004 polls.

Though Palparan gets all the blame, Ferrer said that the geographic and organizational spread of the victims of killings and arrests is reflective of a “national policy” in place.

“This is not just Gen. Palparan showing the way. This is the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the National Security Council led by the national security adviser, the Department of Interior and Local Governments, and the Department of National Defense at work,” she said.

Both National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and the PNP, however, denied Ferrer’s assertions. Gonzales, who heads the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP), a biiter critic of the communist Left, declared that “there’s no excuse for extra-judicial killings; and that “no government will employ such a tool.”

Government and military officials have also suggested that the killings were the result of an ongoing purge within the communist movement.

Below is Ferrer’s essay:
National Security: The Invincible Code?
by Miriam Coronel Ferrer

The horrendous rise in political killings of leftist activists appears to be in line with the slant of the national security policy the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has adopted since 2002, with regards to the communist left, in particular. In her first years, alarm from within the administration was already expressed over the good electoral showing of the national democratic party list groups, alongside the CPP-NPA-NDF’s use of force during the elections (enforced collection and other punitive measures on electoral candidates). Their good showing in the 2004 polls further validated the “fears”. Coincidentally, or shall we say consequently, political killings targeting the left began in late 2004. Peace talks were suspended for various reasons including the postures taken on by the other party, and the JASIG consequently retracted since 2005.

Currently, the national security policy of the GMA administration is founded on two conjoined impetus — the global war against terrorism where the CPP-NPA-NDF has been particularly singled out (along with the Abu Sayyaf), and the continued opposition to GMA where the national democratic left plays a very visible role. These two rationale effectively make the national democratic left the Number One enemy of the current government. The Abu Sayyaf and the military adventurists only come next, and the latter is treated with kid gloves. Not surprisingly, the national democratic left is being attacked through military, political and extra-judicial means.

The focus of condemnation has for a long time been Gen. Jovito Palparan. While he did play an important “pioneering role”, the geographic and organizational spread of the victims (killings and arrests) reflect that a “national policy” is in place. This is not just Gen. Palparan showing the way. This is the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the National Security Council led by the national security adviser, the Department of Interior and Local Governments, and the Department of National Defense at work. The Department of Justice under the present secretary can hardly be expected to go against the grain. Perhaps only the Supreme Court, the Commission on Human Rights, and to the extent that the Department of Foreign Affairs has to defend the country internationally, can be expected to raise qualms.

The killing of two women leaders of the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), a left organization not allied with the CPP, and former NDF peace talks consultant and ex-Bicol regional CPP leader Sotero Llamas alongside Bayan Muna, et. al., seems to be a ploy to pass on the blame of the killings on “purges” or factional fighting. It serves the triple purpose of debilitating all left groups, further discrediting the CPP, and diverting blame away from the government.

The main reasoning of government, as reflected in remarks by government officials like Secretary Mike Defensor, is that the armed and the legal national democratic groups are one and the same (both espouse armed struggle); they are involved in the attempt to overthrow the government, the basis for declaring the state of emergency in February; and they have been proscribed as terrorist organizations in the international community. Therefore, without admitting that government is responsible and denying culpability, there is a basis to clamp down on them. Military and police officials, at the same time, have been bragging that they will lick the insurgency by 2010, the official end of the current presidential term.

The political leadership ultimately would have to be responsible for the unabated killings. Just as in the killings of journalists, whether or not a government institution or officer is involved, the onus on protecting the rights of its citizens falls squarely on the government. The sheer number of killings of selected targets and the modus operandi point strongly in the direction of a government “national security” policy — strictly confidential perhaps, limited to a few circles, perhaps, but ultimately sanctioned by the leadership through sheer inaction or inability, or worse, actual complicity.

Defeating the logic

All angles should be advanced to respond to the nefarious logic of national security, as presently enforced.

Summary executions violate the basic right to life (ironically upheld by GMA in the pardon given to death row convicts and the priority given to repealing the law on the death penalty).
The attack on one political ideology is discriminatory.
The attack does not support political mainstreaming, will justify the use of retaliatory violence, and sustain the logic of armed struggle.
Killings will not snuff out, in fact will inspire others, especially the youth to take up arms, given perceived futility to effect changes through parliamentary means.
Killings are contrary to the pledges made by the Philippine government to the international community, especially the fact of its recent election into the Human Rights Council.
The armed groups fight in the battlefield; the legal arena should be confined to a battle of ideas, or contending politics.
Killings violate the CARHRIHL; both parties should continue to observe this even though the peace talks are suspended.
Assassinations do not have a place in civilized society; the practice is condemnable, must not be tolerated and must not be allowed to be embedded in our social and political life (thus, the CPP-NPA should also stop the practice of executions and imposing the death penalty).
Whipping up the “red scare” is anachronistic to the post-Cold War age. The resort to assassinations using the communist bogey manifests the weakness of the AFP in the battlefield, and the government’s inability to govern, and get the support of the people.
Possible Mechanisms

As peace and human rights advocates, here are some of the steps we can take:

Generate more provincial or localized responses such as the publicized statement, “We thirst for peace (in Bulacan)”. Contacts in provinces where most victims came from should be encouraged to draw up similar responses. Meanwhile, other provinces should also be asked to issue “preventive” statements, where they ask that their localities be spared from these violations.
Write an open letter to the UN on the fact of the Philippines being elected to the Human Rights Council amidst all these killings. Call on the government to make good its pledges to this body.
Request meetings/dialogues with foreign embassies, the Executive Secretary, and the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process), AFP, PNP, DND and National Security Council leaderships on this concern.
A saturation point where government will see that it will ultimately lose politically on the domestic and international fronts if it continues to follow this security track, need to be reached soon in order to stop this bloodletting.

Sulong CARHRIHL News

PEACEtahan, Sulong CARHRIHL’s youth peace awareness campaign, finally hit The Outpost Cafe, Cebu on Friday, November 16 with DAKILA (Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism) and student leaders from the University of Southern Philippines, UP Visayas, University of San Carlos, and Cebu Normal University. Hosted by Tado, Lourd de Veyra and Cathy Cerillo, the night was a lively mix of performance art and reggae/world music from artists Island Joe, Exo, Skanky Muggles, Sining Dilaab, and Junior Kilat.

cathy_and_tadoSulong IP Partners in Public Dialogue with GRP, stakeholders

Representatives of various indigenous peoples (IP) groups in Luzon engaged in dialogue on November 15, 2007 with officers of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Negotiating Panel, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and other stakeholders in the GRP-NDF conflict.

The public dialogue was a culmination of a three-day workshop on the indigenous peoples’ experiences and conflict resolution practices in the midst of the frequent military-NPA clashes in their communities.

Delegates from Kalinga, Abra, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Camarines Norte, Aurora, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro shared the devastating effects of the armed conflict on their ancestral land, youth, women, livelihood, and their indigenous culture, and voiced their collective appeal for their tribes’ neutrality in the GRP-NDF tensions.

img_1778In photo, left to right: Noel Ongoco, Peace Institution Development Office, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PIDO, OPAPP); Dahlia Dait-Caweg, Office of Empowerment and Human Rights , National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (OEHR, NCIP); Dr. Abe Padilla, AnthroWatch; Paulynn Sicam, OPAPP-GRP Panel; Pablo Rey Fuentes, United Nations Development Programme-Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Program (UNDP CPPB)
PEACEtahan, Sulong CARHRIHL’s youth peace awareness campaign, rocked The Penguin Bar, Malate Friday, October 26 with DAKILA (Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism) and guest artists Drip, Color it Red, Toyo, Bobby Balingit, and Free All.

PEACEtahan sa Penguin is the first of a series of lecture-concerts on peace and human rights. Check out the Sulong Youth Webpage for pictures of the event, details about the youth campaign and how to join the poster/informercial/ music video contest.

Sulong CARHRIHL and the NZ Human Rights Commission

Representatives from Sulong CARHRIHL and the Philippine Commission on Human Rights met with New Zealand Human Rights and Race Relations Senior Advisor Dr. Jill Chrisp at the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies last September 3, 2007 to discuss possible areas of partnership with the NZ Human Rights Commission.

One of the highlights of the meeting was a discussion on the different ways of working with indigenous peoples’ (IP) communities. Dr. Chrisp has worked closely with the New Zealand Maori since the seventies, and Sulong CARHRIHL campaigns for upholding human rights and international humanitarian law among Philippine IPs in provinces affected by the GRP-NDF armed conflict. Sulong is also at present conducting research on indigenous conflict prevention and resolution practices in Luzon IP communities. DR

In photo, left to right: Darlene Ramos, Sulong CARHRIHL Advocacy and Research Officer; Prof. Miriam Ferrer, Sulong CARHRIHL lead convener; Efipania Garay of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR); Joeven Reyes, Sulong CARHRIHL Head of Secretariat, Dr. Jill Chrisp, Senior Advisor on Human Rights and Race Relations, NZ Human Rights Commission; and Atty. Jacqueline Mejia, Philippine CHR Executive Director.

Tikada: Broadcasts for Peace

Sulong CARHRIHL, in partnership with Pathways Production and with the support of the Government of Norway, produced 18 Tikada infomercials this year. These three-minute radio spiels were aired nationwide on Radio Mindanao Network in the first two months of 2006, during Radyo Pitlag’s time slot (Monday-Friday, 6:00-6:30 pm).

The Tikada infomercials tackle several topics including the causes and impact of armed conflict on civilian communities, the need to observe and respect human rights and international humanitarian law, the importance of peace-building efforts and the active involvement of the actors for peace. Several spiels address specific issues like the use of landmines and child soldiers.

Social Radio Dramas: Pitlag!

Sulong CARHRIHL is reaching out to a wider audience via the airwaves. Pathways Production, Inc. produced for Sulong CARHRIHL four radio drama sets highlighting the impact of war on communities, the need to promote respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and people’s various responses to the armed conflict in their midst. They were aired as commissioned Radyo Pitlag social drama-forum series. Pathways Production created Radyo Pitlag and owns the block time on Radio Mindanao Network from Monday-Friday, 6:00-6:30 pm.

Each drama set was broadcast nationwide on five consecutive days for 30 minutes each day. The fifth broadcast closes the story and is followed by a 20-minute discussion with guests from Sulong CARHRIHL.

Radyo Pitlag has been awarded Bronze Medalist in the 2003 New York Festival for Best Radio Information program in History and Best Radio Drama Series in the 2001 and 2004 Catholic Mass Media Awards. The funding for the Radio Pitlag series commissioned by Sulong CARHRIHL came from the Royal Norwegian Government.

Karapatang pantao tungo sa kalinaw

arakanbmp2The formation of Sulong CARHRIHL was initiated by the Citizen’s Peace Council and the University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS) program on Peace, Democratization, and Human Rights.

The primary goals of the network are education and advocacy on CARHRIHL, the prevention of violations, and the support of observance of human rights and humanitarian law within the framework of the CARHRIHL.

Sulong CARHRIHL hopes to:

address the needs of communities and groups affected by the armed conflict;
support and sustain the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF);
provide additional avenues for constructive dialogue among the main stakeholders of the peace process, namely, the GRP, the NDF, and Philippine civil society.

What is the CARHRIHL?

The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) is the first substantive agreement produced by the GRP-NDF peace talks.

CARHRIHL was signed by the two parties on 16 March 1998 in The Hague, The Netherlands. The government issued Memorandum Order No. 9 on 7 August 1998 to implement the Agreement. But CARHRIHL was activated with the formation of the GRP-NDF Joint Monitoring-Committee only in 2004.

The Joint Monitoring-Committee (JMC) receives complaints of CARHRIHL violations and monitors the Agreement implementation or the compliance of both parties. It is made up of the GRP and NDF Monitoring Committees, each with a chair, two members and two self-nominated observers from civil society. These MCs conduct separate screenings of complaints and recommend appropriate action. The Joint Secretariat provides staff support.

Why is the CARHRIHL an important instrument?

It provides protection to individuals and communities directly affected by the conflict, and sets concrete measures to promote HR/IHL.
As signatories to the CARHRIHL, it holds both the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF accountable for their actions.
It gives human rights victims additional recourse to seek justice for violations committed on and after 7 August 1998.
Through active advocacy and enforcement, it serves as a mechanism for prevention of HR/IHL violations and conflict.
It promotes HR/IHL norms among all actors which is important in building a just and peaceful society.
Through mutual respect of all parties, it enhances the environment for more substantial agreements leading to a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict

The Tikada infomercials

Baril-Barilan – Explained how and why children became directly involved in armed conflict situations.  It portrayed the adult risks and responsibilities that they had to perform as members of  the armed groups.  It emphasized the rights of the child and defended international standards protecting children from armed conflicts, specifically, terms prohibiting their recruitment as combatants.

Boksing – Highlighted the obligation of combatants and the parties in conflict to know and to strictly observe and apply International Humanitarian Law. It established the primacy of the rights of the civilians given any situation or circumstance in a war context and the need for parties in conflict to observe and respect these over and above their military objectives.

Dobol Chek Lang  – Illustrated how the civilian population especially the children, women and elders are most vulnerable and adversely affected in war.  It taught the importance and urgency of conducting holistic healing interventions among the victims as soon as these are possible.  The need to restore the life of the community to some level of normalcy, in which children can play and go back to school, families can feel secure in their own homes and adults can be productive and able to work again to earn a living, formed the core of the broadcast’s message.

Edgar vs Irap – Pointed to the duty of parties in armed conflicts to take full responsibilities for their actions especially the consequences on the affected populations. It also urged them to keep the line for dialogues open toward curtailing and preventing more damages, and eventually settling the conflict.

Gabi ng Nginig – A spiel on how a once peaceful community suddenly became a dangerous and dreadful place due to rising incidences of salvaging, massacres and kidnappings.  The residents soon realized that the warring parties have been resorting to nasty tactics aimed at deliberately sowing fear among them.  The infomercial described the harmful actions usually employed by militarist groups to forcibly attain their ends. The implications of these actions in terms of the basic rights of the people were portrayed.

Ka-Five-Apaan This infomercial identified the five components (represented by caricatures of super heroes), that are needed in order to achieve peace in the community.  The first component is to forge and begin peace talks between parties involved in the armed conflict; second is to obtain support from the church groups and to conduct peace education; third is to generate support of partners for genuine community development; fourth is to build the capacities of the grass roots and work for people’s empowerment; and last but not least, is to clarify the roles and help the civilians in the community interpret and fulfill their roles eagerly and efficiently.

Laban o Bati – This spiel focused on capacity building and people empowerment as tasks that are vital to building peace.  This infomercial underscored the importance of equipping the individuals and the communities with the needed skills, knowledge and assistance, to enable them to cope with the strain and stress of armed conflict.

Landmines – Bared different situations wherein civilians met senseless and horrible deaths due to landmine accidents. It protested the use of landmines and other highly destructive weapons as part of combat actions in armed conflict situations.

Langit, Lupa, Impyerno – Is a call to the parties involved in armed conflicts to respect the  peace zones declared by the community.  Communities build peace zones in order to discourage parties at war from occupying and conducting armed operations within the confines of their immediate environment. This is one way by which community residents can avoid protect themselves from the effects of escalating violence, and enhance conditions for peace building.

Matud Nila (Cebuano Reggae Song) – To the tune of a popular Visayan love song, spiked with reggae beat, the spiel called attention to the limits in the conduct of war in accordance with the guiding principles of the international humanitarian law. That civilians and civilian objects should be kept safe and not be made targets of attacks were made clear in this infomercial.

Mulangaw – The characters in the story represented government officials and rebel forces whose way of solving the problem of poverty and other forms of social injustices are influenced by opposing ideologies and frameworks.  This infomercial provoked the parties concerned to observe the peaceful processes in resolving major differences.  It also insisted on the correctness of subscribing to humanitarian principles such as consultations and dialogues, while always respecting human rights, in finding answers to the country’s fundamental problems.

Pilipinas, Nakasagana Kan Aya?  –  This infomercial spoofed a popular television game show which challenged contestants to give quick and correct answers to the questions asked by the show’s host. In this infomercial version, the contestants were two opposing combatants, and a civilian.  The questions that were asked called for answers on preventing armed conflicts, and defining the limits to the actions parties involved in the conflict can carry out.

Noli Me Touch Me Not – This infomercial listed categories of civilian structures like cell sites, public and private transportations, public markets, places of worship, power plants, and other vital community facilities as restricted targets of armed conflict.

Pro-Peace Gifted – Depicted the efforts of some communities to restore the conditions for peace in their lives and the subsequent triumph of their collective actions. The residents defended the peace in their communities by joining alliances and forging partnerships with other communities and the local organizations.  Portrayed too were the stirring experiences of the people in a community where peace has returned; where the residents could again enjoy and feel secure in a community in which their rights are respected and observed; where they could enjoy the fruit of their labors in a bountiful harvest, and where the people are benefiting equitably from sustained growth and development in their community.

Ti Ayat Ti Maysa Nga Sibilyan – Is a spiel  that used the melody of a classic Ilocano song, Ti Ayat a Maysa Nga Ubing,  to introduce IHL principles that prohibit parties from harming civilians and civilian objects and declaring them as non-targets in situations of armed conflict.