Human rights in the Philippines
This section may stray from the topic of the article. (November 2020)
The concept of "human rights," in the context of the Philippines, pertains mainly (but is not limited) to the civil and political rights of a person living in the Philippines by reason of the 1987 Philippines Constitution.
Human rights are a justified set of claims that set moral standards to members of the human race, not exclusive to a specific community or citizenship. Membership in the human race is the sole qualification to obtain these rights. Human rights, unlike area-specific conventions of international laws (e.g. European Convention on Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), are universally justifiable as it pertains to the entire human race, regardless of geographical location.
Practices of human rightsEdit
The Labor Code is the legal code governing employment practices and labor relations in the Philippines. The Labor Code stipulates standards in terms of wages and monetary benefits, hours of work, leaves, rest days, holiday pays, and benefits, among others.
Prior to the Marcos Martial Law Era in the Philippines, all labor laws were not codified. President Marcos tasked a committee from the then-called Department of Labor (now the Department of Labor and Employment or DOLE) to consolidate all the existing labor laws of the Philippines. The committee was composed of: Amado G. Inciong, the then Undersecretary of Labor, acting as the chairman of the committee, Director Ricardo Castro, the head of the subcommittee on Labor Relations, Director Diego Atienza, the head of the subcommittee on Labor Standards, and Director Rony Diaz, the head of the subcommittee on Employment and Training. The result was Presidential Decree No. 442 ("PD 442") or "A Decree Instituting the Labor Code and Consolidating Labor and Social Laws to Afford Protection to Labor, Promote Employment and Human Resources Development and Insure the Industrial Peace Based on Social Justice," otherwise known as the "Labor Code of the Philippines". The consolidation was finished on May 1, 1974 and took effect on November 1, 1974.
Indigenous peoples' rightsEdit
The Indigenous Peoples' Rights ActEdit
The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 recognized and promoted the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICC/IPs) enumerated within the framework of the Constitution. It committed the State to recognize and promote the rights of ICCs/IPs to:
- Protect the rights of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains to ensure their economic, social and cultural well being and shall recognize the applicability of customary laws governing property rights or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domain;
- Recognize, respect and protect the rights of ICCs/IPs to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation of national laws and policies;
- Guarantee that members of the ICCs/IPs regardless of sex, shall equally enjoy the full measure of human rights and freedoms without distinction or discrimination;
- Take measures, with the participation of the ICCs/IPs concerned, to protect their rights and guarantee respect for their cultural integrity, and to ensure that members of the ICCs/IPs benefit on an equal footing from the rights and opportunities which national laws and regulations grant to other members of the population.
It declared that the State recognizes its obligations to respond to the strong expression of the ICCs/IPs for cultural integrity by assuring maximum ICC/IP participation in the direction of education, health, as well as other services of ICCs/IPs, in order to render such services more responsive to the needs and desires of these communities.
Commission on Human RightsEdit
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is an independent office created by Section 18, Article XIII of the Philippine Constitution, with the primary function of investigating all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights in the Philippines. The Commission is composed of a Chairperson and four members, majority of which must be lawyers under the constitution.
The Commission is empowered to investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights, adopt rules of procedure and issue contempt citations, provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all criminals within the Philippines, and several other powers in relation to the protection of human rights.
The CHR is in charge of the following programs;
- Human Rights Protection Program.
- The Human Rights Protection Program implemented the Legal and Investigation Office which provides legal aid and counseling services; conducts monitoring of cases/complaints with concerned agencies; conducts rights based public inquiry on issues and concerns of marginalized and disadvantage sectors; and conducts studies to establish certain human rights conditions/situations affecting human development for the adoption of policies, programs and measures for the promotion of human rights. The Legal and Investigation Office also provides appropriate human rights investigative interventions; medico-legal services; conducts alternative dispute resolution of cases thru mediation; quick reaction activities; fact finding missions; rights based situation tracking and rights based investigative monitoring.
- The Human Rights Education Teaching Exemplars.
- The CHR established linkages and collaboration efforts with the Department of Education with this effort, the two agencies forged a Joint of Declaration of Undertaking (JDU) in 1992 and a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in 1996 which provided development of human rights education curriculum for integration across the two levels of education. To implement the main provision of the Memorandum of Agreement, a joint project was undertaken entitled: Writing Workshop in the Development of Human Rights Education Teaching Exemplars for the Elementary and the Secondary Levels.
- Human Rights Linkages Development and Strategic Planning.
- The CHR established a Legislative and Program Division which is in charge of monitoring bills with human rights implications filed in Congress and coordinating in the preparation of the CHRP position on proposed measures. The LPD has participated in almost all committee hearings and Technical Working Group meetings in both houses of Congress and in such other fora on matters with human rights implications. Right to Development Program. A system of developing and monitoring rights-based programs and measures across institutions aimed at creating enabling environment for poverty reduction linked with the nine components of good governance as follows: Electoral and Political Reforms, Right to Development, Judicial Reform, Anti-Corruption, Governance Review, Civil Service & Economic Management, Globalization and Corporate Citizenship, Decentralization & Local Governance.
Department Of JusticeEdit
The Department of Justice of the Philippine Government is its principal law agency. It derives its mandate primarily from the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292). It carries out this mandate through the Department Proper and the Department's attached agencies under the direct control and supervision of the Secretary of Justice.
The DOJ, through its offices and constituent/attached agencies, is also the government's legal counsel and representative in litigations and proceedings requiring the services of a Lawyer; implements the Philippines' laws on the admission and stay of aliens within its territory; and provides free legal services to indigent and other qualified citizens.
As the principal law agency of the Philippines, the Department of Justice carries out specific functions in order to fulfill its basic functions
- Administration of the Criminal Justice System
- The DOJ investigates the commission of crimes and prosecutes offenders through the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the National Prosecution Service (NPS), respectively. The DOJ administers the probation and correction system of the country through the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) and the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA).
- Legal Counsel of Government
- The DOJ, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), acts as the legal representative of the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities including government owned and controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, officials and agents in any proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of a lawyer.
- Provision of Free Legal Assistance
- The DOJ provides free legal assistance/representation to indigents and poor litigants as well as other qualified persons in criminal, civil, and labor cases, administrative and other quasi-judicial proceedings and non-commercial disputes through the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) pursuant to Republic act No. 9406.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004 (RA 9285) created the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution (OADR), which is an agency attached to the DOJ which function is to promote, develop and expand the use of alternative dispute resolution in civil and commercial disputes.
- Other Functions
- Witness protection – The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act (R.A. 6981), mandates the DOJ to formulate and implement a Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program for the admission and protection of witnesses.
- Anti Human trafficking – The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (R.A. 9208), mandates the prosecution of persons accused of human trafficking and for that purpose, created the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
- Rape Victim Assistance and Protection – The Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998 (RA 8505), mandated the DOJ to participate in inter-agency efforts to establish Rape Crisis Centers in every city or province for the purpose of rendering assistance to rape victims.
- Anti-Child Pornography – The Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (R.A. 9775), designates the Secretary of Justice as member of Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography that is tasked to coordinate, monitor and oversee the implementation of Anti-Child Pornography Act
The Department of Justice is headed by the Secretary of Justice, assisted by four Undersecretaries and two Assistant Secretaries. Within the office of the Secretary of Justice is a prosecution staff which is composed of prosecuting officers and headed by a Prosecutor General. Among other functions, the prosecution staff assists the Secretary of justice in his/her appellate jurisdiction and conducts the preliminary investigation and prosecution of criminal cases involving national security, those for which task forces have been created and criminal cases whose venues are transferred to avoid miscarriage of justice, all when so directed by the Secretary of Justice as public interest may require.
- National Prosecution Service
- Legal Staff
- Office for Competition
- Office of Cybercrime
- Planning and Management Service
- Financial Service
- Administrative Service
- Technical Staff
- Internal Audit Service
The Department of Justice heads a number of projects, among others are as follows;
- Child Protection Program
- The Child Protection program implemented the Special Committee for Child Protection which is a body charged with monitoring the implementation of The Special Protection For a Child Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act (R.A. 7610). Which protects a child who is below 18 years of age or one who is over 18 years of age but who cannot take care of himself fully because of a physical or mental disability or condition from abuse.
- Criminal Code Committee
- The purpose of the Criminal Code Committee is to form a new Criminal Code of the Philippines that is updated, modern, simplified, responsive and truly Filipino, in order to improve the administration of justice in the country and enhance access to justice of the poor and other marginalized sectors.. It is composed of representatives from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government
- DOJ Action Center
- The Department of Justice Action Center acts on complaints, requests for legal assistance and queries of walk-in clients as well as over the telephone. Any caller can talk to a lawyer or paralegal officer who can render him assistance.
- Juvenile Justice and Welfare
- The Secretary of Justice is in charge of supervising the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006. (R.A. 9344). This act covers the different stages involving children at risk and children in conflict with the law from prevention to rehabilitation and reintegration.
- Office of Cybercrime
- The Office of Cybercrime is in charge of implementing the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (R.A. 10175).
Department of Labor and EmploymentEdit
The DOLE was originally named the Bureau of Labor on June 18, 1908 under the Department of Commerce and Police. It was renamed and founded as the Department of Labor on December 8, 1933 as mandated by Legislative Act No. 4121. After a complete internal restructuring in 1982, it was renamed the Department of Labor and Employment. It concerns itself with the protection and welfare of Filipino workers both in the country as well as abroad, and responds accordingly to socio-political and economic challenges that would affect the workers. DOLE is also mandated to create policies and programs as an arm of the Executive Branch in its field of concern. It has set up a number of offices and agencies: 16 regional offices, 83 field offices, 4 satellite offices, 28 overseas posts, 6 bureaus, 7 staff services, and 11 attached agencies. These subgroups are tasked to closely monitor and coordinate the implementation of policies and programs.
Major final outputsEdit
There are seven major services offered by DOLE, namely:
- Job Search Assistance Services to assist jobseekers opting for wage employment. The service aims to provide employment guidance and counseling, job referral and facilitation, and timely and accurate jobs and skills description.
- Capacity Building Services for Livelihood and Employability of Workers in the Informal and other Specific Sectors to assist the marginalized and disadvantaged workers—informal sector workers, returning OFWs, indigent students and out-of-school youth—by providing skills and entrepreneurship training; access to livelihood opportunities and development, and employment interventions.
- Social Partnership Promotion and Dispute Resolution Services to minimize lost working days of workers in formal employment. These lost working days should be a result of avoidance, settlement, and disposition concerns.
- Skills Competency, Productivity Training Tech-Voc Education Services to aid the unemployed and underemployed with vocational and technical skills to adapt to the demands of a fluctuating labor market. They provide training and information on productivity technologies.
- Services to Saveguard Fair and Just Terms and Conditions of Employment to effectively enforce standards of labor through education, advocacy, inspection, and verification of all required documents.
- Social Protection and Welfare Services for Workers in the Informal and Other Specific Sectors to aid workers not usually covered by the protection of government laws. This is done through DOLE'S Social Protection Program.
- Work Accident/Illnesses Prevention, Work Compensation and Rehabilitation Services to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and illnesses caused by labor. These services provide compensation and rehabilitation for occupationally disabled workers.
DOLE, with the International Labour Organization (ILO), was a major contributor to the adoption of the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, and The Kasambahay Law (R.A. 10461).
National Commission on Indigenous PeoplesEdit
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) was born through the merging of the Office for Northern Cultural Communities (ONCC), and the Office for Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC) in the year 1997 through RA 8371 or "Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997". It is a highly specialized commission with different projects for each region.
International Labor OrganizationEdit
The International Labor Organization (ILO) is a tripartite organization that started working with the Philippines in the year 1994. Its vision is as follows:
- "The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues."
The ILO Manila office has been active since its founding, starting with the ratifying of the Workman's Compensation (Accidents) Convention 17 based on Act. No. 1874 to extend responsibility of employers for personal injuries and death suffered by employees at work.
Programmes and projectsEdit
Below are a number of the recent programmes and projects by ILO Manila.
- Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) is ILO Manila's main project. It was made to support the country's Labor Employment Program (LEP). The two major priorities are decent jobs for a competitive Philippines, and improved labor market governance. To achieve this, the ILO will help strengthen the working capacity of the Philippines and apply international labor conventions to constantly update the LEP. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework has listed the DWCP as ILO Manila's top priority.
- Infrastructure for Rural Productivity Enhancement Sector (INFRES) Project (June 4, 2001 – December 31, 2006) was completed to improve their living conditions, poor people require access to employment and basic goods and services. The poor can improve their situation through national and local investment in infrastructure that provides jobs.
- ILO-IPEC Project in support of the Philippine Time-Bound Programme (September 2, 2002 – August 31, 2007) was the first and most significant contribution toward the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. It has been designed to leverage resources, and to link up with national and international programs for the benefit of Filipino boys and girls.
- Strategies and Tools Against Social Exclusion and Poverty (STEP) (January 1, 2003 – June 1, 2005) aimed to provide better quality of life to informal economy workers and their families through better access to health care. This is a donor project from the Government of Norway.
- Protecting Domestic Workers against Forced Labour and Trafficking (DOMWORK) (May 3, 2004 – December 31, 2006) was a programme on the regulation and condition of Filipino domestic workers. They plan to empower domestic workers on their rights as well as reduce the cases of abuse.
- "Through discussions on gender equality, the ILO noted that problems had deepened for the most vulnerable, including women in domestic work. Yet while the global economic downturn has contributed to aggravating their vulnerabilities, domestic workers are beginning to realize gains through changes in public attitude."
- Indigenous Peoples Development Programme (IPDP) - to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
- Tripartite Action for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Region (May 1, 2012 – March 31, 2016) is an ongoing ASEAN TRIANGLE project that aims to significantly reduce the exploitation of labour migrants in the region through increased legal and safe migration and improved labour protection. This is a donor project from the Government of Canada.
- Building the Capacity of the Philippines Labour Inspectorate (December 15, 2014 – December 14, 2017) is a collaborative project with DOLE to strengthen its Labour Law Compliance System (LLCS) by promoting a positive mindset towards work.
Civil Society OrganizationsEdit
Focused on indigenous peoplesEdit
- Tebtebba is an organization that was established in the year 1996. They have been an active participant in processes which led to the adoption of international human rights law and other international instruments, policies and agreements. These include the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the establishment of spaces within the United Nations, such as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, among others.
- Cordillera Peoples Alliance
- The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) was founded in 1984. Among many other projects and campaigns, CPA has pushed for regional autonomy, campaigns for the defense of land, life, and resources, opposed large-scale mining in the Cordillera to save Abra river, and exposed violations of human rights committed in their region.
- Kalipunan Ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayanng Pilipinas – KATRIBU (National Federation of Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines)
- KATRIBU was founded in the year 1987. Previously known as KAMP, KATRIBU aims for the attainment of land rights and for the formation of allegiances and government of the indigenous peoples. KATRIBU is currently protesting DMCI’s planned 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Narra, Palawan and the mining policy of the Aquino administration.
- Sabokahan Unity of Lumad Women
- SABOKAHAN (Unity of Lumad Women) was founded in 2003. Composed of eight ethno-linguistic tribes across Southern Mindanao, SABOKAHAN is a grassroots organization led and created by Lumad women dedicated to the advancement of women's rights, equality, and liberation. Save Pantaron and Pulangi River Campaigns are two projects SABOKAHAN hold in protecting biodiversity. 
Violations against human rightsEdit
Marcos administration (1965–1986)Edit
On September 21, 1972, then President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines. Marcos gave the armed forces the power to prevent or suppress… any act of insurrection or rebellion.[better source needed] A total of 398 disappearances, 1,388 extrajudicial killings, and 1,499 killed or wounded in massacres were recorded but not every victim was accounted for.
After the declaration of Martial Law, Marcos issued six general orders and an instruction to close privately owned media facilities. The Press Secretary, Francisco Tatad, and Secretary for National Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, were ordered by Marcos "to take over and control or cause the taking over and control of all such newspapers, magazines, radio and television facilities and all other media communications..." The information released to the public was highly censored and prevented journalists from releasing any suspicious information about the administration. For the dictatorship, failure to abide would lead to arrest and eventual torture and execution. Lawyer and statesman Sen. Jose W. Diokno, the father of human rights, was one of those arrested. He would be released and later founded the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), the largest group of lawyers to combat human rights abuses by the dictatorship, and it managed to deal with over 90 percent of human rights cases during martial law.
The assassination of Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino triggered the peaceful 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, led by Aquino's wife, Corazon "Cory" Aquino. The peaceful revolution united the nation in a call against Marcos to uphold their human rights. It led to the abolition of Martial Law (de jure abolished in 1981), the exile of the Marcos family, as well as Cory Aquino's rise to the presidency and the current 1987 Constitution. This, in turn paved the way for the creation of the Presidential Committee on Human Rights, now the Commission on Human Rights which was founded by Atty. Diokno.
Arroyo administration (2001–2010)Edit
The Arroyo Administration was riddled by its several issues on several forms of violations against human rights. Most of these which include the increase in military power and presence, especially in Muslim Mindanao. Philip Alston, a UN Rapporteur, published Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right To Development in 2008 that chronicled and reported the situation he had found while in the Philippines. Many incidents of extrajudicial killings were linked to this report, most notable of which is Sichi Bustamante-Gandinao, who was a direct testimony of the abuses concerning the military.
Sichi Bustamante-Gandinao was a peasant organizer in Salay, Misamis Oriental. She was the chairman of the Misamis Oriental Farmers Organization and the coordinator of the party list group called Bayan Muna. She was also an outspoken critic of the actions the Citizens' Armed Force Geographical Unit or CAFGU, and how they disrupt the relatively peaceful communities in Misamis Oriental. Philip Alston was a UN Rapporteur, who had Gandinao as a testimony to the extrajudicial killings, and other violations of human rights the military was practicing, whether it was the military is contested by the Military. The Alston report was published in 2008, which highlighted these abuses through the United Nations General Assembly. In March 2007, however, Gandinao, together with her husband and daughter, was walking home after a day of doing farm work. Gandinao was then shot four times by two men on a motorcycle heading towards a nearby military camp, while Gandinao's family helplessly watched the attack. The local officials and passers-by all told Gandinao's husband and daughter that they were too busy to tend to the bleeding Gandinao. According to reports, after two hours of bleeding profusely, the assailants went back to the scene of the crime and even watched the entire ordeal of Gandinao. Her husband had to carry her to the Cagayan de Oro ambulance, which took another hour to get to the actual hospital. In the Cagayan de Oro hospital, Gandinao was pronounced dead on arrival.
Vigilantism and death squadEdit
According to the Alston report, the presence of "vigilantism" and death squad in Davao has been a commonplace occurrence, and has been going on for some time now, prior to his visit in the Philippines from 2006 to 2007. The Death Squad, however, operate with no intention of hiding their identities, and in broad daylight. Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has held office, aside from a brief stint as a congressman, since 1988. Rodrigo Duterte is known for his strict, anti-criminal approach in governing Davao City. However, in the same report, Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that hundreds of unsolved murders were committed during his time as mayor, and that he takes "full responsibility" for the fact that the murders have remained unsolved. When Duterte was first elected as mayor, he faced a Davao with problems like rampant youth gangs, the New Peoples' Army (NPA) killing policemen routinely, and crime. The Davao Death Squad (DDS) has had over 500 victims since 1998; killing targets in public and in broad daylight. These executions were a response to petty crimes, and targets are sent warnings explaining why they are targeted by the DDS. It was, however, noted that during Duterte's term as mayor, criminal activity has decreased significantly. It should also be noted, however, that there are hundreds of unsolved murders.
Benigno Aquino Administration (2010–2016)Edit
On June 30, 2010, Benigno Aquino III was sworn into office as the President of the Philippines. Notable acts during his term include the implementation of the K-12 program, the revocation of midnight appointments, the founding of the Philippine Truth Commission, the creation of agencies such as the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and the framing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The administration vowed to eradicate corruption within the government system, but has yet to resolve such cases as those regarding Hacienda Luisita and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. Listed below are the cases of human rights violations under the second Aquino administration:
The number of journalist killings under the Aquino administration has been noted to be the highest since 1986. Because of this, the Philippines has been ranked by CNN as the third deadliest country for journalists. Information about disappearances and murders of reporters are kept from the public, making several agencies/organizations as well as whistleblowers at risk of exposure to harm. Some of the well-known journalists killed in their line of work during the Aquino government include: Henry Araneta, Desidario Camangyan, Joselito Agustin, Gerardo Ortega, Romeo Olea, Christopher Guarin, Mario Sy, Fernando Solijon, Joas Dignos, and Rubylita Garcia. According to the 2014 Human Rights Watch Report, only 6 out of 26 cases managed to identify/capture their suspects.
The Aquino administration implemented reforms towards more effective criminal investigation procedures, in addition to passing laws to better uphold human rights. However, these reforms are underdeveloped. An example is Administration Order 35, which acquired problems in identifying which case to pursue due to the process requirements.
On June 15, 2020, Maria Ressa, the founder and executive editor of the news website Rappler, and Reynaldo Santos Jr. researcher at Rappler were sentenced with a minimum of six months and one day and a maximum of six years’ imprisonment and fine of 4000 US dollars for moral damages and 4000 US dollars for exemplary damages. They were the critics of President Rodrigo Duterte and reported on his “war of drugs” campaign that killed more than 12000 Filipinos. Human Rights Watch found in an investigation that the police are falsifying the evidence to justify the illegal killing of civilians.
Duterte administration (2016 – present)Edit
On June 26, 2020, Philippines police arrested around 20 people at the LGBT pride event. They were protesting against an anti-terrorism bill, which will eliminate legal protection and police can detain groups and individuals without any warrant under the label of terrorism. The arrest took place without any explanation from the police force. HRW urged the authority to release those detainees and allow them to exercise their fundamental right of protesting peacefully. On July 3, 2020, Amnesty International criticized the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte and said that the new law is the latest example of the country’s ever-worsening human rights record.
Alleged extrajudicial killingsEdit
With the vigilante killings becoming rampant, the Citizen's Council for Human Rights (CCHR) asked President Duterte to initiate measures to stop the surge of extrajudicial killings.
The killing of Larry Que on December 20, 2016, was the first recorded media-related killing under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Shortly before becoming president Duterte said, "Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a bitch. Freedom of expression cannot help you if you have done something wrong." Recognising the danger to journalists, the president established the Presidential Task Force on Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Members of the Media in October 2016.
On August 21, 2020, the United Nations raised concerns with the Philippine government over the killing of peace consultant Randall "Randy" Echanis and human rights defender Zara Alvarez. The UN Human Rights Office described the situation as alarming since the two victims were previously tagged as terrorists because of their work, and called for transparent investigations.
On August 24, 2020, Human Rights Watch revealed that employees of Karapatan, a human rights organization in Philippines had received death threats. The threats came a week after unidentified gunmen shot dead Zara Alvarez, a paralegal worker for the group, in Bacolod City in the central Philippines on August 17. Karapatan has been alleged to be a particular target of Philippine security forces and their agents.
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