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Submitted by: Delbert Baguilat

Submitted to: Atty. Melissa Rodriguez



Human rights Law in the Philippines

Introduction
The United Nations defined human rights as rights inherent to all human beings,
whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion,
language or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without
discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
1
Human rights are of paramount concern of every country, an obligation that must be
fulfilled. It is the duty of a government to protect its citizens from any kind of abuse regardless
of ones status in life. Theodore Roosevelt once said, No one is above the law, and no man
below it. Equality is deserved by everyone. No person in his right mind would want his/her
right to be stepped on nor be treated unjustly. However the sad fact of reality proves otherwise,
with rights being violated-the rich exploiting the poor, the educated taking advantage of the
ignorant and government officials being implicated in human rights crimes. This research aims to
take a closer look at the existence of laws involving the protection of human rights in the
Philippines.
Human Rights Abuse; Philippine Context
The past years, there has been a rise of human rights violation in the Philippines, much
more allegations involving the Armed Forces of the Philippines such as incidents of torture,
disappearances and worst of all extra judicial killings. As a consequence of such, the Philippines
was placed in a negative spotlight in the international community.
The case of Mellisa C. Roxas, who was abducted and was subsequently released after 5
days of being tortured, in her petition to the Supreme Court she alleges that the military was
behind her abduction and torture, such allegations was not supported by physical evidence
though and just a mere testimony not corroborated by a witness, thus it was rejected, however the
court was convinced that indeed there exist a threat to her life, granting her a Writ of Amparo.
Though its just an allegation, it has marred the already tainted reputation of the military which
placed them in a negative image to the public and the international community especially the
United Nations. In a precedent case, the abduction of Jonas Burgos, a farmer advocate and a
member of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bulacan. It was again alleged that the perpetrators are
members of the Armed forces of the Philippines. These are just the few of the many cases
involving human rights violations that are being hurled against the government.
With allegations after allegations, wide media coverage of such incidents, and
international outcry for accountability, the government was prompted to take action. One of
which is a Memorandum of Understanding between the CHRP and the Philippine National
Police in upholding the visitorial powers of the CHRP over detention facilities operated by the
PNP in police camps, stations, and detachments. Another milestone that was reached in the name
of human right is the enactment of Republic Act no. 9745 know as the Anti- Torture Act of
2009 which prohibits and penalizes any kind of torture- mental and physical.
In February 11, 2010 in consideration of the human rights incidents in the Philippines,
the EU-Philippine Justice Support Programme was launched, with the purpose to help all stake
holders in the Philippine-in government, in the judiciary and in the Commission of Human
Rights, and in civil society to work together to address the critical issue of extralegal killings
and enforced disappearances.
1

Philippine Law on Human Rights
The Constitution, which is said to be the supreme law has expressly incorporates rights to
every person. The belief that every human being has intrinsic dignity and worth which must be
respected and safeguarded.
2
Every individual has the right to be treated humanely, it is inherent
in every human person. The Constitution clearly states No person shall be deprived of life,

2 Formal launching of the EU-Philippine Justice Support Programme, European Union Press release, 11 February
2010
3 Textbook on Phil. 1987 Constitution H. De Leon 2005 edition
4 Munn Vs. Illinois 94. U.S. 133



liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person shall be denied the equal
protection of the law. (Art. III sec. 1. 1987 Phil. Constitution) The provision is clear in its text,
that it values the right of an individual to life. The prohibition against its deprivation without due
process extends to all the limbs and faculties by which life is enjoyed.
3
To be deprived of life,
includes the loss of any of the various physical and mental attributes which man must have to
live as a human being.
4

Indeed it is the outmost duty of the state to safeguard and promote the right of each
individual who sojourns thereof. Considering a text from the 1987 Philippine Constitution
preamble which states...a government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the
common good, conserve and develop our patrimony and secure to ourselves and our posterity,
the blessings of independence and democracy, under the rule of law, and a regime of truth,
justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace. In addition, in the bill of rights, the state values the
dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights. (Art. 2 sec 11.
1987 Phil Constitution). Clearly, one can infer in the expressed text that it is the duty of the
government to preserve and promote the dignity and right o the people.
Furthermore, the constitution mandates the creation of an independent office called the
Commission on Human Rights. (Art XIII sec. 17 1987 Phil Constitution). With a duty to
investigate on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations
involving civil and political rights. The creation of the Commission on Human Rights gives
further stress to the primacy of human rights in our constitutional hierarchy of values and
reaffirms our nations commitment to their protection.
5
When human rights violation cases was at its peak, congress was able to prioritize the
enactment of Republic Act No. 9745 known as the Anti-torture Act of 2009, indeed it is a
major lift in curbing out human rights violation in particular the prevention of the act of torturing
someone-physically or mentally. The statute specifically states (Sec 2. p. A) to value the dignity
of every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights. Verily, it acknowledges that
the preservation of ones dignity and right is paramount, it is an essential factor that defines
ones liberty, that deprivation if which may constitute a deprivation of ones enjoyment to life.
The Philippines is a state party to about 23 international human rights instrument under
the U.N. system. To name a few:
1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
3. International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
4. Convention on Rights of the Child
5. Convention Against Torture
6. Convention on the Elimination against Women
7. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
8. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and
Members of their Families
9. U.N. Declaration on the Right to Development
It is through the observance of these human right standards that expanding choices and
opportunitie
2
s of the poor and vulnerable sectors of our society could be realized.
6

Conclusion
Nothing that erodes the rule of law can ever be moral. Violations of human rights are
common when both people and their duly constituted authorities are ill informed about them and
take for granted the need to protect and preserve them.
7
Indeed statutes are being enacted for the
preservation of the rights of every individual; the bill of rights in the constitution has enumerated
the rights of the people as citizens. The enactment of the Anti torture Act of 2009 to prevent
inhumane treatment of an individual to another. The Philippines as a signatory to many human
right conventions signifies the governments will to curb out human right abuses in the country,
however it is ironic that those who should be the protector of the people are the ones violating
the rights of the people. No matter how many laws are being crafted, for as long as these laws are
not well implemented and perpetrators not brought to justice, then curbing out the rampant
human rights abuses would only be like an elusive vision of the government that is far to be
realized.

5 Textbook on Phil. 1987 Contitution H. De Leon 2005 edition
6 www.chr.gov.ph
7 Textbook on Phil. 1987 Contitution H. De Leon 2005 edition