By PhilRights Staff

Welcome to HR Insights, a weekly roundup of human rights news in the Philippines. This week…

In PH, 60 Human Rights Defenders and at least 4 journalists were killed in 2017

Frontline Defenders, the Dublin-based organization working for the protection of human rights defenders, documented a total of 60 Filipino human rights defenders (HRDs) who were killed on the job in 2017.

In its 2017 annual report, FD highlights that the Philippines “remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a human rights defender.” The country joins Brazil, Colombia and Mexico in having 80 percent of HRD deaths documented during the year.

Its analysis also notes that “67% of the total number of activists killed, were defending land, environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights, nearly always in the context of mega projects, extractive industry and big business.”

Meanwhile, a separate report from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), ranks the Philippines as the most dangerous country in Southeast Asia for journalists, and sixth in the world. With at least four deaths documented, the number highlights the continued dangers faced by working journalists and media staff in the country. Worldwide, IFJ’s death toll for 2017 is at 82.

PNP prepares policy guidelines for body cameras in anti-illegal drug ops

 The Manila Bulletin reports that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is drafting policy guidelines for using body cameras in anti-illegal drug operations.

Quoting PNP Chief Dela Rosa, the article reports that the procurement of body camera units for anti-drug policemen will happen some time this year.

This gesture towards transparency is part of the PNP’s demonstration of its intent to carry out a “less bloody” war on drugs as it once again assumes the lead role in anti-illegal drug operations, after being removed twice because of public outcry against the staggering violence of its campaign, leading at least 13,000 deaths according to human rights organizations’ estimates.

Martial Law Victims to file SC petition on US$2-B damages

 After the Court of Appeals rejected the appeal of Martial Law victims to enforce a Hawaii court ruling awarding them US$2-B in damages, Rappler reports that the petitioners are now gearing up to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Calling the decision “erroneous” and “violative of [their] rights,” petitioner and former Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales emphasized the need for local court enforcement of the Hawaii ruling. Supporting their case, she says, is the fact the ruling has been cited by the Supreme Court itself and by Republic Act 10368, also known as the Human Rights Victims Reparations Act of 2013.

The Hawaii ruling, issued back in 1995, decided in favor of 10,000 Martial Law victims who filed a class action suit back in 1986.

Must Read: Michael L. Tan’s Call for Human Rights Education

In his regular opinion column for the Inquirer, University of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor Michael L. Tan locates Filipinos’ disdain for human rights in the prevalent view that human rights are simply a Western imposition and that they amount to “too much democracy.”

He urges a review of the college General Education (GE) curriculum so that the mandatory human rights education can be better integrated. A timely call, given that, as Tan notes, the revised GE curriculum will be implemented this school year and because 2018 marks the 70th year of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He is also correct in diagnosing that the public’s “disdain, even contempt,” for human rights has empowered the State to get away with human rights abuses in its conduct of its so-called war on drugs.  Elsewhere in the column, he provides context for the universality of human rights and the importance of an historical framework for human rights education, all so students can appreciate the intertwining of human rights abuses, impunity and the country’s many social, cultural, and economic problems.

 Read his piece here .

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