PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

U.S. SAYS, PHL HAS SIGNIFICANT HUMAN RIGHTS PROBLEMS


JUNE 27 ---Extrajudicial killings by security forces and vigilante groups, an overburdened criminal justice system, a meager record of prosecutions, and widespread official corruption and abuse of power are the most significant human rights problems in the Philippines, the US State Department said.
In its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014, the State Department said the Philippine government investigated and prosecuted only a number of reported human rights abuses, and concerns about impunity persisted. At the same time terrorist organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf Group, Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and the New People’s Army (NPA), as well as elements associated with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – including the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) – continued to kill security forces, local government officials and other civilians, the report on the Philippines said. The Moro National Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) also conducted military operations against government security forces and civilians. Security forces and police allegedly abused and sometimes tortured suspects and detainees. Common forms of abuse during arrest and interrogation included electric shock, cigarette burns and suffocation, the report said. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), as of September, investigated 44 cases of alleged torture involving 49 victims, with police suspected in 35 cases, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in two, jail guards in three, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in two, other government officials in four and unidentified individuals in two of the cases. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace calls on Congress, Judiciary for help in tackling HR issue


JUNE 28 ---Philippines congress
Malacañang yesterday called on Congress and the judiciary to work together with the executive branch in dealing with human rights violations in the country that the US State Department has described as serious. In its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014, the State Department said the Philippine government investigated and prosecuted only a limited number of reported human rights abuses and concerns about impunity persisted. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said she read the report and it actually “encompasses a wide range of topics,” including spousal rape, sexual harassment, persons with disabilities, among others. “I was looking at the report...and there are points of concern that the report raises and we are asking all the agencies that are concerned – the executive, of course, it is easy because every year we really look into those kinds of observations – but even our co-workers and colleagues in the judiciary, as well as those in Congress, to take a look at the report...for us to be able to work together to address the points of concern that have been raised,” Valte said. “There are observations and suggestions that are solved by either passing the necessary legislation, amending existing legislations or also addressing the judicial process,” she said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Outgoing AFP chief now an adopted son of Palawan


JUNE 28 ---Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr.. AFP-PIO
 For showing determination in challenging China’s provocations in the West Philippine Sea, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has been named “an adopted illustrious son of Palawan.” 
In bestowing on Catapang the honors, the Palawan Provincial Council cited his personally leading a group of local and foreign media last month to Pag-Asa island – seat of the Kalayaan island town in Palawan – to brief them on the real situation and send a message to China that the Philippines is serious about asserting its sovereignty over its territory. Catapang retires from the service next month upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56. “He was declared an adopted illustrious son of Palawan through Provincial Resolution No. 12050 dated May 19, 2015,” AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said. Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez signed the resolution adopted by the provincial council headed by Palawan Vice Gov. Victorino Dennis Santos. The province, through the council, expressed its appreciation for Catapang’s concern as well as his reassurance of protection for the country’s maritime borders. While in Pag-Asa, Catapang announced his plan to build a vacation house in Kalayaan after his retirement. He said he plans to rent out the house to tourists occasionally, in line with the tourism program of Kalayaan town Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. “Gen. Catapang’s initiative in pooling the resources and efforts of the AFP in visiting Pag-Asa Island was also appreciated by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,” Cabunoc said. Pag-Asa island is one of the nine areas in the region occupied by Filipino troops. READ MORE...

ALSO: Zambales to seek additional livelihood budget for fishermen


JUNE 28 ---A fisherman hauls tuna from his fishing boat.
BORACAY, Philippines – The local government of Masinloc in Zambales will ask for additional P500,000 from the national government as livelihood assistance for fisherfolk affected by the blockade of Chinese ships around their fishing grounds in Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
Masinloc Mayor Desiree Edora, in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of a marine conservation conference here on Friday, said they are studying long-term livelihood programs for fishermen displaced by the territorial dispute. She said local fishermen lost their livelihood because of harassment by Chinese coast guard personnel. “They (fishermen) don’t want to return there because they fear for their lives,” she said. “If they want to go there, we ask them to coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Safety first as Bocaue pagoda sets sail


JUNE 28 ---Bocaue River floating parade
BOCAUE, Bulacan, Philippines – The nine-day novena and fluvial procession for the veneration of the Mahal na Krus sa Wawa in this town began Friday night.
A three-story pagoda was set up on four wooden barges, carrying the Holy Cross and the statue of St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of Bocaue. It was described by spectators as a giant, golden crown floating on the Bocaue River. To accommodate hundreds of devotees and spectators, three trips were scheduled for each of the nine days of the procession. Organizers of the festival, led by this year’s hermano mayor Jim Valerio, told The STAR that only 200 to 250 people would be allowed to board the pagoda. Passengers were obliged to wear life vests and stringent rules were being imposed to prevent the occurrence of a similar accident that happened more than two decades ago. READ MORE...

ALSO UN: Philippine efforts to uphold women’s rights not enough

Officials of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) are in Manila to present recently released findings and recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that the Philippine government has not taken sufficient action to prevent the violation of women’s reproductive rights. UN Photo/Ryan Brown The Philippines still falls short in preventing the violation of women’s  reproductive rights despite its passage of a Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law in 2012, a report of a United Nations committee revealed. Officials of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) are in Manila to present recently released findings and recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that the Philippine government has not taken sufficient action to prevent the violation of women’s reproductive rights. Lawyers who have been working with women’s groups in the Philippines are still calling on the national government to step up its efforts in ensuring that women have access to sexual and reproductive health services and information. The Aquino administration had successfully lobbied Congress to pass the RH Law despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church. It took 15 years of several administrations to pass a reproductive health law to address the growing population. Despite the enactment of the RH Law, Filipino women were found to continue going through unplanned pregnancies and suffer from unsafe abortion and unnecessary and preventable maternal deaths READ MORE...

ALSO: LGBT Pinoys celebrate U.S. ruling on same-sex marriage
["It is a basic right of every person, whether they are bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual, to be free from any form of discrimination. As a representative of a marginalized group in Congress and as a woman, I support House Bill 5687 and I push for equal opportunity for all,” the party list solon said]


JUNE 28 ---Members of an LGBT group participate in a Gay Pride march against discrimination in Manila yesterday. Ernie Peñaredondo
MANILA, Philippines - The landmark decision of the US Supreme Court ruling same-sex marriage as a legal right raised hope among members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community that the same could also be legalized in the country.
Several hundred LGBTs yesterday held a Gay Pride rally at Rizal Park in Manila to celebrate the historic ruling, many carrying placards and streamers that said “Fight for Love” and waving rainbow banners. Some came with pets dressed in rainbow costumes. Jonas Bagas, executive director of the pro-LGBT rights group TLF Sexuality, Health and Rights Educators Collective Inc. (TLF Share), said the US court ruling “will reverberate in other corners of the world.” The Gay Pride march was scheduled to commemorate the 1969 demonstrations in New York City that started the gay rights movement around the world, with the US court decision on Friday making it more significant. In the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, where the church has fiercely opposed gay marriages along with divorce and artificial contraceptives, Bagas said he expects the “conservative majority” to continue to block human rights for LGBTs. READ MORE...

ALSO: CBCP stands firm against gay marriage
[“We will continue to teach the sons and daughters of the Church that marriage… is an indissoluble bond of man and woman,” he stressed. However he also said that “the US Supreme Court decision will not go unheeded.....]


Scott Spychala waves a rainbow flag outside the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, Friday, June 26, 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US. AP FILE PHOTO
The leadership of the Philippines’ dominant Roman Catholic church stressed its opposition to legalizing gay marriage on Sunday despite last week’s landmark decision by the US Supreme Court. The Philippine government meanwhile affirmed that under its law, marriage is still between a man and a woman and only an act of Congress can change this, unlike in the United States. “The Church continues to maintain what it has always taught. Marriage is a permanent union of man and woman,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. READ MORE...

ALSO: New US Obamacare law a boon to Pinoy workers


JUNE 28 ---New US healthcare law to stimulate demand for Filipino health workers 
Filipino health care professionals as well as the Philippines’ booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry are expected to benefit from America’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the US Supreme Court has just upheld, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said yesterday. “We expect the ACA or the Obamacare to stimulate America’s demand for Filipino nurses, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, speech pathologists, and other health care workers,” said Romulo, chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education. “Obamacare basically means that millions of lower middle-class Americans who currently do not have any health insurance protection will enjoy subsidized coverage, according to Romulo. A greater number of Americans will now have access to health care, especially hospitalization, thus creating new demand for such services,” Romulo said. “Simply put, the US hospital industry is bound to boom, and so will their demand for foreign staff,” he added. In the past, US hospitals struggled financially as they were forced to write off the unpaid bills of uninsured patients. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Phl has significant HR problems – US

WASHINGTON, JUNE 29, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Jose Katigbak STAR Washington bureau June 27, 2015 - Extrajudicial killings by security forces and vigilante groups, an overburdened criminal justice system, a meager record of prosecutions, and widespread official corruption and abuse of power are the most significant human rights problems in the Philippines, the US State Department said.

In its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014, the State Department said the Philippine government investigated and prosecuted only a number of reported human rights abuses, and concerns about impunity persisted.

At the same time terrorist organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf Group, Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and the New People’s Army (NPA), as well as elements associated with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – including the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) – continued to kill security forces, local government officials and other civilians, the report on the Philippines said.

The Moro National Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) also conducted military operations against government security forces and civilians.

Security forces and police allegedly abused and sometimes tortured suspects and detainees. Common forms of abuse during arrest and interrogation included electric shock, cigarette burns and suffocation, the report said.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), as of September, investigated 44 cases of alleged torture involving 49 victims, with police suspected in 35 cases, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in two, jail guards in three, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in two, other government officials in four and unidentified individuals in two of the cases.

READ MORE...

The CHR, an independent government agency, also investigated 45 new complaints of politically motivated killings involving 61 alleged victims as of September 2014, the report said.

The CHR suspected personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) were involved in 10 of the complaints, the AFP in six, members of the terrorist New People’s Army in three, civilians in five and unidentified persons in the remainder.

The report said insufficient personnel, inefficient processes and long procedural delays continued to hinder the judicial system in the country, contributing to widespread skepticism that the criminal justice system could deliver due process and equal justice.

In one example, it said a court convicted two persons of killing an expatriate foreign national under conditions that would normally result in 12- to 20-year prison terms. Instead, they received a probationary sentence and will serve no additional jail time despite their convictions.


PHILSTAR

Palace calls on Congress, Judiciary to help tackle HR issue By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 28, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Philippines congress

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang yesterday called on Congress and the judiciary to work together with the executive branch in dealing with human rights violations in the country that the US State Department has described as serious.

In its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014, the State Department said the Philippine government investigated and prosecuted only a limited number of reported human rights abuses and concerns about impunity persisted.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said she read the report and it actually “encompasses a wide range of topics,” including spousal rape, sexual harassment, persons with disabilities, among others.

“I was looking at the report...and there are points of concern that the report raises and we are asking all the agencies that are concerned – the executive, of course, it is easy because every year we really look into those kinds of observations – but even our co-workers and colleagues in the judiciary, as well as those in Congress, to take a look at the report...for us to be able to work together to address the points of concern that have been raised,” Valte said.

“There are observations and suggestions that are solved by either passing the necessary legislation, amending existing legislations or also addressing the judicial process,” she said.

READ MORE...

Valte said the report cited, for instance, that there was much to be desired with regard to successful prosecutions. She noted the numbers must improve and the other branches of government should come together and work on those points of concern.

She noted they were committed to making the situation better because based on the report, “there is a big chunk of it that is dedicated to the abuse of human rights because of conflict situations.”

The report said extrajudicial killings by security forces and vigilante groups, an overburdened criminal justice system, a meager record of prosecutions and widespread official corruption and abuse of power are the most significant human rights problems in the Philippines.

At the same time terrorist organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah and the communist New People’s Army (NPA), as well as elements associated with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, including the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, continued to kill security forces, local government officials and other civilians, the report said.


PHILSTAR

Outgoing AFP chief now an adopted son of Palawan By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 28, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr.. AFP-PIO

MANILA, Philippines - For showing determination in challenging China’s provocations in the West Philippine Sea, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has been named “an adopted illustrious son of Palawan.”

In bestowing on Catapang the honors, the Palawan Provincial Council cited his personally leading a group of local and foreign media last month to Pag-Asa island – seat of the Kalayaan island town in Palawan – to brief them on the real situation and send a message to China that the Philippines is serious about asserting its sovereignty over its territory.

Catapang retires from the service next month upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

“He was declared an adopted illustrious son of Palawan through Provincial Resolution No. 12050 dated May 19, 2015,” AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez signed the resolution adopted by the provincial council headed by Palawan Vice Gov. Victorino Dennis Santos.

The province, through the council, expressed its appreciation for Catapang’s concern as well as his reassurance of protection for the country’s maritime borders.

While in Pag-Asa, Catapang announced his plan to build a vacation house in Kalayaan after his retirement. He said he plans to rent out the house to tourists occasionally, in line with the tourism program of Kalayaan town Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr.

“Gen. Catapang’s initiative in pooling the resources and efforts of the AFP in visiting Pag-Asa Island was also appreciated by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,” Cabunoc said.

Pag-Asa island is one of the nine areas in the region occupied by Filipino troops.

READ MORE...

Local help

Meanwhile, Angkla party-list Rep. Jesulito Manalo said yesterday the local maritime industry can help secure the country’s territorial waters by building vessels for the Coast Guard and the Navy.

“With what’s happening in the West Philippine Sea, we can – if we all work together – ourselves build our own ships for the Coast Guard, for the Navy and merchant vessels,” Manalo said.

He added public funds should be invested in building and developing national shipyards instead of acquiring used vessels from foreign powers.

Manalo noted the country’s weak or zero deterrent capability in the face of China’s continued reclamation and military construction activities in the West Philippine Sea, as well as piracy and poaching along the country’s extensive coastline.

“We can actually become a peaceful maritime power in the region, and can provide stability. One day, we’ll be shipping fleet owners. We have the manpower, experience and expertise. Let’s believe in ourselves and have a bigger vision for our country,” he said.

He said the Philippines ranks first in Southeast Asia and fourth in the world in terms of ship building, after China, South Korea and Japan. However, most of the major shipyards in the country are foreign-owned.

A paper from the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) of the House of Representatives said the construction of a 320,000-deadweight tonnage commercial ship “shows that the Philippines can build world-class ocean-going vessels.”

The CPBRD also said in 2013, a total of 90 international vessels were ordered from the Philippines, almost double the 48 booked orders in the previous year.

According to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), there are 12 licensed shipyards in the country, with eight having facilities for the construction and repair of big ships. – With Paolo Romero


PHILSTAR

Zambales to seek additional livelihood budget for fishermen By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 28, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 2


A fisherman hauls tuna from his fishing boat.

BORACAY, Philippines – The local government of Masinloc in Zambales will ask for additional P500,000 from the national government as livelihood assistance for fisherfolk affected by the blockade of Chinese ships around their fishing grounds in Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

Masinloc Mayor Desiree Edora, in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of a marine conservation conference here on Friday, said they are studying long-term livelihood programs for fishermen displaced by the territorial dispute.

She said local fishermen lost their livelihood because of harassment by Chinese coast guard personnel.

“They (fishermen) don’t want to return there because they fear for their lives,” she said. “If they want to go there, we ask them to coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard.”

READ MORE...

Edora said old maps in possession of the local government show that Bajo de Masinloc, which is some 125 nautical miles off Zambales, is part of the Philippines.

Edora said local fishermen told her they used to harvest three tons of fish from Bajo de Masinloc, earning about P300,000 a week. “Now they only earn P300 a day,” she said.

The local government has set aside P1.2 million for the livelihood program of the town, a huge part of which is for the displaced fisherfolk, she said.

Edora said each fisherfolk organization received between P50,000 to P100,000.

She said the local government also provided culinary training for the wives of the fishermen while their husbands were hired as operators of passenger boats.

“If tourists want to visit our projects these women will be the one to prepare the food,” Edora said.

Edora said the Department of Social Welfare and Development also promised to provide P5,000 for each affected family.

Human rights lawyer Harry Roque and the Centerlaw Philippines recently asked the United Nations to intervene to stop China from harassing fishermen in the area.

Roque cited separate instances when Chinese coast guard personnel armed with AK 47 rifles rammed the fishing boats or fired water cannon at local fishermen in Panatag Shoal.

Last April, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources advised Filipino fishermen to avoid going near Bajo de Masinloc to prevent similar incidents.


PHILSTAR

Safety first as Bocaue pagoda sets sail By Ramon Lazaro (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 28, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Bocaue River floating parade

BOCAUE, Bulacan, Philippines – The nine-day novena and fluvial procession for the veneration of the Mahal na Krus sa Wawa in this town began Friday night.

A three-story pagoda was set up on four wooden barges, carrying the Holy Cross and the statue of St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of Bocaue. It was described by spectators as a giant, golden crown floating on the Bocaue River.

To accommodate hundreds of devotees and spectators, three trips were scheduled for each of the nine days of the procession.

Organizers of the festival, led by this year’s hermano mayor Jim Valerio, told The STAR that only 200 to 250 people would be allowed to board the pagoda.

Passengers were obliged to wear life vests and stringent rules were being imposed to prevent the occurrence of a similar accident that happened more than two decades ago.

READ MORE...

On July 1993, the 20-foot tall pagoda that served as centerpiece of the festivities collapsed and sank, resulting in the drowning of nearly 300 people. About 800 devotees were believed to have boarded the pagoda.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, led by Liz Mungcal, also deployed several rescue teams, rubber boats, ambulances and paramedics to ensure the safety of spectators and devotees during the festival.

The Bulacan police force also deployed its personnel to secure the route of the procession.

The annual celebration is held every first Sunday of July in honor of the Holy Cross of Wawa, or the Mahal ng Poon ng Krus sa Wawa.


PHILSTAR

UN: Philippine efforts to uphold women’s rights not enough By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 29, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Officials of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) are in Manila to present recently released findings and recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that the Philippine government has not taken sufficient action to prevent the violation of women’s reproductive rights. UN Photo/Ryan Brown

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines still falls short in preventing the violation of women’s reproductive rights despite its passage of a Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law in 2012, a report of a United Nations committee revealed.

Officials of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) are in Manila to present recently released findings and recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that the Philippine government has not taken sufficient action to prevent the violation of women’s reproductive rights.

Lawyers who have been working with women’s groups in the Philippines are still calling on the national government to step up its efforts in ensuring that women have access to sexual and reproductive health services and information.

The Aquino administration had successfully lobbied Congress to pass the RH Law despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church. It took 15 years of several administrations to pass a reproductive health law to address the growing population.

Despite the enactment of the RH Law, Filipino women were found to continue going through unplanned pregnancies and suffer from unsafe abortion and unnecessary and preventable maternal deaths.

READ MORE...

Particularly vulnerable are economically disadvantaged women, adolescent girls and women in abusive relationships.

“While the passage of the RH Law has been a historic step forward for women in the Philippines, there needs to be further action taken to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive rights as guaranteed in the law,” says Payal Shah, senior legal adviser at CRR who has been working with advocacy groups in Asian countries, including the Philippines.

“The CEDAW has called on the government to act immediately to enforce laws and policies that guarantee women’s access to reproductive health services, revoke local executive orders in the City of Manila that acted to ban contraceptives, and establish effective monitoring mechanisms to investigate and respond to complaints of violations of women’s reproductive rights at the local and national level,” Shah said.

The RH Law guarantees women access to contraceptives and quality, humane post-abortion care.

However, the UN committee found that in practice, women are actually still being denied access to the full range of reproductive health services and information. They are also subjected to abuse, threats, discrimination, stigma, or delays in or denial of care when seeking life-saving treatment for abortion-related complications.

Recognizing these violations of reproductive rights, the CEDAW called on the Philippine government to ensure full implementation of the RH Law to guarantee women’s access to effective methods of family planning.

It was also recommended that the government should provide women access to quality post-abortion care in all public health facilities by reintroducing misoprostol and establishing complaint mechanisms for women seeking post-abortion care who faced abuse.

Aside from pointing out the non-implementation of some provisions, the UN also made recommendations to government to do more to protect women’s reproductive rights.

The CEDAW found the Philippine government accountable for women’s rights abuses resulting from other restrictive laws and policies. These include the criminal ban on abortion without any clear exceptions, and the delisting of emergency contraception.

“This inquiry is the first of its kind conducted by the CEDAW on reproductive health and in Asia. By conducting this inquiry, the Committee has recognized the grave nature of the harm suffered by women in the Philippines as a result of the ongoing failure to revoke the Manila executive orders, which are among the most restrictive policies on contraceptives globally,” Shah said.

Women’s legal groups are scheduled to meet officials of the Department of Health, Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Commission on Women, Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Population, and the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

They will share how the CEDAW’s recommendations provide a historic opportunity for civil society and the Philippine government to come together to promote women’s rights to equality and nondiscrimination, dignity, and health guaranteed under the Constitution, national laws and policies, as well as major international human rights treaties ratified by the Philippine government.

“We will be presenting to them these findings and recommendations not only to highlight the steps needed to be taken by the government to fully promote and protect women’s reproductive rights, but also to provide a space for dialogue between civil society and the government to identify opportunities and areas of collaboration for us to address existing challenges and barriers in promoting women’s fundamental rights,” said Jihan Jacob, CRR’s legal fellow in the Philippines.

In July 2016, the Philippines will be reviewed by the UN committee as part of the regular country monitoring process of states that are parties to the CEDAW Convention. The Philippines was last reviewed by the CEDAW in 2006.


PHILSTAR

LGBT Pinoys celebrate US ruling on same-sex marriage (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 28, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Members of an LGBT group participate in a Gay Pride march against discrimination in Manila yesterday. Ernie Peñaredondo

MANILA, Philippines - The landmark decision of the US Supreme Court ruling same-sex marriage as a legal right raised hope among members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community that the same could also be legalized in the country.

Several hundred LGBTs yesterday held a Gay Pride rally at Rizal Park in Manila to celebrate the historic ruling, many carrying placards and streamers that said “Fight for Love” and waving rainbow banners. Some came with pets dressed in rainbow costumes.

Jonas Bagas, executive director of the pro-LGBT rights group TLF Sexuality, Health and Rights Educators Collective Inc. (TLF Share), said the US court ruling “will reverberate in other corners of the world.”

The Gay Pride march was scheduled to commemorate the 1969 demonstrations in New York City that started the gay rights movement around the world, with the US court decision on Friday making it more significant.

In the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, where the church has fiercely opposed gay marriages along with divorce and artificial contraceptives, Bagas said he expects the “conservative majority” to continue to block human rights for LGBTs.

READ MORE...

We hope that after this decision, the struggle for equality can be reframed to go beyond marriage equality so that we can address other dehumanizing situations that LGBTs encounter,” he said.

For Danton Remoto, chair of the LGBT Party-list (formerly Ang Ladlad Party-list), the US court decision was “a lodestar for LGBTs around the world. It touches the very heart of same-sex partnership because now they can marry and live with the one they love, protected by the legal mantle coming from the state.”

The ruling guaranteed due process and equal protection under the law, lifting the ban against same-sex marriages in 14 states.

Remoto, who writes a column every Saturday for The STAR, noted that since Philippine laws are mostly patterned after that of the US, the country’s high court “will already have a template” if it decides on the petition of lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis II.

Falcis, who identified himself as openly gay in his May 18 petition, argued that limiting civil marriages and the rights that go with such unions to heterosexuals were violative of the constitutionally guaranteed protection for equal treatment, undue interference to liberty rights and marital autonomy.

Petitioner said the limitations imposed by the 1987 Family Code favoring only opposite sex marriages repealed the 1949 Civil Code, which never made such a distinction.

His petition was submitted to the Philippine Supreme Court a few days before a historic referendum in Ireland approving gay marriage.

Remoto, however, admitted that he does not see same-sex marriage being legalized in the country in the near future, as even the proposed measure on anti-discrimination against LGBTs has been pending for more than a decade now.

“The bill criminalizes discrimination at work, in schools and in getting licenses to start a business or practice a profession. But until now, it has not been passed,” Remoto said.

Remoto said attaining recognition of same-sex marriage in the Philippines may be achieved partly by working for an end to discrimination not just against LGBT people, but also against indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.

Sylvia Estrada Claudio, a gender rights advocate and professor of women development studies at the University of the Philippines, said the US court decision was also “a triumph for feminism” because of the “intimate connections” between discrimination based on biological gender and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

“I can’t help but note that the three women justices voted for marriage equality, forming a solid core in what was a close vote,” Claudio said.

Meanwhile, President Aquino firmly believes in equality but the discussions on the issue of same-sex marriage will have to be left to Congress, Malacañang said yesterday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over radio dzRBthat same-sex marriage must be legislated.

“It’s not just setting policy because, remember, as far as the President is concerned, he wants everyone treated equally; you must get what you deserve,” Valte said.

“In the context of the , some legal experts are of the view that you need to change the Constitution to be able to allow same-sex marriages; some say that you don’t, that you just need a regular legislation to be able to incorporate it in our laws. But we leave it to Congress for that discussion,” she said.

Catholic prelates in the Philippines have condemned gay marriages, even claiming that priests who solemnize such marriages are liable under the law.

Anti-SOGI Act At the House of Representatives, the committee on women and gender equality has approved the bill that aims to eliminate discriminatory practices based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity by proscribing and penalizing discriminatory practices.

AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep. Sharon Garin, one of the sponsors of House Bill 5687 or the proposed Anti-Sexual or Gender Identity Discrimination (SOGI) Act, pushed for the immediate passage of the bill in plenary when Congress opens its third regular session on July 27.

“It is a basic right of every person, whether they are bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual, to be free from any form of discrimination. As a representative of a marginalized group in Congress and as a woman, I support House Bill 5687 and I push for equal opportunity for all,” Garin said. – With Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica, AP


INQUIRER

CBCP stands firm against gay marriage SHARES: 122 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Agence France-Presse 05:21 PM June 28th, 2015


Scott Spychala waves a rainbow flag outside the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, Friday, June 26, 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US. AP FILE PHOTO

The leadership of the Philippines’ dominant Roman Catholic church stressed its opposition to legalizing gay marriage on Sunday despite last week’s landmark decision by the US Supreme Court.

The Philippine government meanwhile affirmed that under its law, marriage is still between a man and a woman and only an act of Congress can change this, unlike in the United States.

“The Church continues to maintain what it has always taught. Marriage is a permanent union of man and woman,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

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“This is the way the Church has always read Sacred Scriptures. This is the way it has lived its faith, inspired by the Holy Spirit,” Villegas said in a statement on the group’s website.

“We will continue to teach the sons and daughters of the Church that marriage… is an indissoluble bond of man and woman,” he stressed.

However he also said that “the US Supreme Court decision will not go unheeded.

We shall study it with assiduousness, and revisit our concepts and presuppositions.”

Last Friday’s US court decision has stirred interest in the socially conservative Philippines, the only country besides the Vatican that still outlaws divorce.

Church pressure delayed a law allowing for wider distribution of contraceptives for 15 years. It was finally passed in 2014 but abortion remains illegal.


MANILA BULLETIN

Obamacare a boon to Pinoy workers by Philippine News Agency June 28, 2015 Share2 Tweet4 Share1 Email0 Share12


New US healthcare law to stimulate demand for Filipino health workers

Filipino health care professionals as well as the Philippines’ booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry are expected to benefit from America’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the US Supreme Court has just upheld, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said yesterday.

“We expect the ACA or the Obamacare to stimulate America’s demand for Filipino nurses, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, speech pathologists, and other health care workers,” said Romulo, chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.

“Obamacare basically means that millions of lower middle-class Americans who currently do not have any health insurance protection will enjoy subsidized coverage, according to Romulo.

A greater number of Americans will now have access to health care, especially hospitalization, thus creating new demand for such services,” Romulo said.

“Simply put, the US hospital industry is bound to boom, and so will their demand for foreign staff,” he added.

In the past, US hospitals struggled financially as they were forced to write off the unpaid bills of uninsured patients.

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For years, the Philippines has been America’s chief supplier of foreign health care workers, mostly nurses.

The veteran solon also said he expects Obamacare to drive US health insurance companies to aggressively expand their back offices in the Philippines.

“US health insurers will be under pressure to slash operating costs in order to stay profitable. They will have no choice but to relegate more jobs to the Philippines, where labor and other costs are lower,” he explained.

“They will be compelled to transfer more contact center, insurance claims processing, clinical support analysis, medical coding, and other non-core, business support jobs to the Philippines,” he added.

Romulo authored the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which has helped attract global corporations to either establish new in-house outsourcing units in the Philippines, or to convey their business support activities to highly specialize independent BPO firms operating here.

The law mandates all entities, including BPO firms, to protect the confidentiality of personal information collected from clients and stored in information-technology (IT) systems, in accordance with rigorous international privacy standards.

The Philippines’ highly labor-intensive BPO and IT-enabled services industry includes contact center services; back offices; medical, legal and other data transcription and coding; animation; software development; engineering design; and digital content.

The IT and Business Processing Association of the Philippines sees the industry yielding up to US$26 billion in annual revenues and directly employing some 1.3 million Filipinos by 2016.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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