People's Agenda on Peace and Human Rights

We have witnessed a wanton disregard of people’s rights and the prevalent climate of impunity and unpeace, especially under the Benigno S. Aquino III presidency. 
 
 
Instead of pursuing substantial, comprehensive and meaningful reforms through engaging in peace processes, the Aquino administration has adopted and continued US-directed and anti-people counter-insurgency programs such as Oplan Bayanihan. This has resulted in numerous cases of political killings, forcible evacuation, illegal arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture, especially of peasants and indigenous people. Soldiers and paramilitary groups encamp in schools, barangay halls and civilian communities. More than 500 social/political activists, government critics, dissidents and common folk have been arrested and are still detained due to trumped up criminal charges.   

State perpetrators of rights violations receive accolades through promotions, instead of being dealt with swift prosecution and conviction. Meanwhile, victims and their families have been denied justice, through tortuous court proceedings and other legal maneuvers meant to protect the perpetrators. The climate of impunity indeed pervasive. 

Alongside civil and political rights violations are gross violations of people’s social, economic and cultural rights. Poverty is most pronounced and widespread in rural communities, where the impact of landlessness and lack of employment opportunities is severely felt by farmers who till the land they do not own, farmworkers, fisherfolks and indigenous people. The labor force is plagued by unemployment, contractualization, subhuman wages, and harmful conditions in the workplace. Urban poor communities where many workers and their families reside, they face forcible eviction. Because of lack of opportunities, many are forced to work outside the country, even under the most difficult situations. Basic social services are increasingly denied to the general population, especially to the poor, as privatization and commercialization policies have rendered them inaccessible. Discrimination and violence against indigenous people, Moro people, women, LGBTs and persons with disabilities persist.      

Thus, we, victims of human rights violations and families, human rights and peace advocates, human rights workers, leaders and members of community and people’s organizations, civil libertarians, have resolved to pursue the following people’s agenda for peace and human rights under the Duterte presidency and beyond:

For the First 100 days of the Duterte presidency:

1. Resume formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in accordance with previously signed bilateral agreements.

2. Resume a genuine and sincere Moro peace process that will address the roots of the decades-old armed conflict in Muslim Mindanao to achieve a just and lasting peace that is inclusive and unifying, without undermining the peace agreements forged between the Philippine government and the MNLF (1996 FPA) and MILF (2014 CAB).  
3. Junk anti-people counter-insurgency operational plans (Oplan) patterned after the US counter-insurgency plan. 
- Stop the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan and immediately withdraw all programs and projects being implemented by the Oplan Bayanihan, including those under the guise of civil-military operations like the Whole of Nation Initiative (WNI); 
- Realign the national budget for Oplan Bayanihan or other counter-insurgency plans to indemnify victims of human rights violations and provide rehabilitation to victims of forcible evacuation as well as basic social services.

4. Effect government adherence to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), Algiers Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples, United Nations Human Rights instruments and covenants and International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

5. Render justice to the victims of human rights violations
- Immediately arrest known perpetrators of human rights violations such as those involved in the political killing of Lumad and peasants;
- Immediately resolve all counter charges filed by victims of rights violations, such as the cases filed against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan;
- Effect immediate compliance on court orders for military respondents to surface Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno and other desaparecidos; 
- Immediately arrest, prosecute and if evidence warrants, punish perpetrators of human rights violations with warrants issued by courts; (Note: Names of perpetrators will be submitted.)
- Immediately transfer retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to civilian detention facilities; 
- Complete the implementation of Republic Act 10368 (Recognition and Compensation of Martial Law Victims) and remove Gen. Lina Sarmiento as chairperson of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board;
- Arrest, prosecute and file criminal charges against officers and members of  the police units, such as the Special Action Force, SWAT and the NCRPO, involved in the bloody Camp Bagong Diwa siege that resulted in the killing of 22 Moro detainees on 15 March 2005 ( based on the CHR’s findings and recommendation to the DOJ);
- Stop the policy and practice of impunity perpetrating human rights violations. 

6. Release all political prisoners
- Immediately release detained JASIG holders and Jasig-protected persons who should have been immune from arrests in the first place;
- Release the sick and the elderly, minors and nursing mothers, and those who were held in prison for decades on humanitarian grounds. While detained, they should be provided with immediate medical attention, if necessary;
- General, unconditional and omnibus amnesty for all political prisoners;
7. Drop all trumped up charges and end criminalization of political activism and human rights advocacy.
- End the arrests of political dissenters; 
- Stop the use of “John and Jane Does” and “Alias” warrants to justify arrests;
- End the policy and practices of arresting and detaining activists through warrantless arrests and faulty warrants, using professional witnesses of the AFP, and using perjured testimonies and manufactured evidence;
- Eradicate the practice of filing trumped up criminal charges against peasants engaged in agrarian disputes with landlords;
- Drop all trumped-up charges against activists and political dissenters, including those against the Kidapawan farmers and Lumad leaders;
- Revoke DND-DILG Joint Order 14-2012 on the reward/bounty system which is used in illegal arrests and detention of individuals. Investigate all funds allocated or released through the reward/bounty system;
- Penalties in rebellion cases should be lowered without distinction as to whether the accused or the person arrested is a leader or a member.  

8. Release all Moro detainees who are victims of the past Arroyo regime’s discriminatory crackdown of Moro civilians suspected as members or supporters of the terrorist Abu Sayaff Group engaged in heinous crimes in 2001. They are innocent civilians as affirmed by the result of the case review undertaken by the DOJ Task Force on the Bangsamoro from 2012 to 2013 on charges of  the kidnapping case filed against them. 

9. End extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and other human rights violations, especially of political dissenters. Ensure the implementation of the Anti-Torture Law.
10. Uphold press freedom and the people’s right to know. Stop media killings and decriminalize libel. Hasten the prosecution of the Ampatuans and all perpetrators in the Ampatuan massacre. 

11. Stop militarization in the countryside and forced evacuation of village residents especially peasants and indigenous peoples like the Lumad.  
- Pull-out military and paramilitary troops in civilian communities and schools.
Revoke department of Education Order 221 and AFP Letter Directive 25
legitimizing the military occupation and entry in schools. Desist from military
encampment and remove military camps and permanent 
blockhouses/detachments in communities; (Note: List of specific communities
where military troops conduct operations will be submitted) 
- Ensure the safe return of all displaced persons to their communities,
particularly the Lumad in evacuation centers in Tandag, Surigao del Sur and
UCCP Haran, Davao City, and Moro peoples displaced from their
communities in Maguindanao, Basilan and Lanao del Sur; 
- Disband paramilitary units, including SCAAs or investment defense forces, and forced recruitment of village residents through the revocation of Executive Order 546, Executive Order on the creation of Task Force Gantangan, and other legal instruments. Disband private armed groups. 
- Stop anti-people projects which will lead to dislocation of people in their
communities.  

12. Surface the disappeared and aid their families in ascertaining their whereabouts. Provide assistance and support for families of the disappeared. Establish an independent and people-led truth commission on the cases of the disappeared, starting with the cases of 11 NDFP peace consultants, Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeno, and James Balao. Ensure the implementation of Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act. 

13. Investigate DAP funds used for the counter-insurgency program, specifically funds used by OPAPP, ARMM and other related agencies for possible misuse and corruption. Investigate the Reward for Justice System, a bounty-driven US-led anti-terrorism campaign used by corrupt military and police personnel/units as a “money making venture” to claim the monetary bounty at the expense of innocent Moro civilians indiscriminately tagged as terrorists. 

14. Appoint of genuine people’s rights and human rights defenders with proven record of advocacy and defense of people’s rights/human rights to the Commission on Human Rights. Assert the CHR’s role in the investigation of anti-people policies and practices. 

For Medium-Term Reforms: 

1. Uphold national sovereignty and assert independent foreign policy against US intervention, including its role in counter-insurgency programs.

2. Render justice to the victims of human rights violations
- Prosecute, jail and punish violators of HR/PR/IHL and CARHRIHL. Put in place effective measures and guarantees to avoid recurrence of violations such as disciplinary action and non-promotion of perpetrators; 
- Indemnify the victims of human rights violations, especially extra-judicial killings and massive and prolonged forcible evacuations, committed in the conduct of Oplan Bayanihan from 2010 to 2016, for the losses of lives, property and livelihood they suffered. 

3. Institute reforms to improve conditions in prisons and detention centers, with UN standards as a minimum. Impose disciplinary action on and/or prosecute abusive and corrupt prison and detention officials. 

4. Ensure the protection of human rights defenders through the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill, among others. 

5. Stop violations of people’s social, economic and cultural rights, their collective and individual rights, e.g. unlivable wages, contractualization, landgrabbing, land conversion, forced eviction/demolition, discrimination against women, IPs, Moro people, PWDs & LGBTs, violations of migrant’s rights, commercialization of education, privatization of hospitals and other basic social services, etc. Hold the perpetrators accountable and liable in court or through other redress mechanisms. Effect speedy court processes and resolution.   

6. Prioritize basic social services in appropriating public funds, instead of placing greater priority on funds for counter-insurgency programs. Deliver social services to address the needs of the poor majority. Ensure that social services are not used for counter-insurgency purposes.    

7. Immediately repeal all repressive laws, decrees and other executive issuances such as General Orders 66 and 67 (authorizing checkpoints and warrantless searches), PD 1866 as amended (allowing the filing of charges of illegal possession of firearms with respect to political offenses), BP 880 (restricting and controlling the right to peaceful assembly), among others. 

8. Legislate a genuine Freedom of Information Law. 

9. Review the background of Datu and other Lumad leaders recognized and assigned by the NCIP as representatives in local governments units.  Stop the appointment of fake Datu without properly procured endorsements from their community and grassroots indigenous peoples organizations.

10. Include, in both secondary and tertiary education, curriculum subjects on people’s rights and comprehensive human rights (civil, political, economic, social, cultural) and how these rights were violated under the Marcos dictatorship and the succeeding regimes.

11. Include in the curriculum of law schools more subjects on people’s lawyering, people’s rights and human rights to encourage graduates to go into these fields.Provide scholarships to indigent students who want to pursue the legal profession with proviso of going into public interest lawyering after passing the bar exams.

12. Support, without strings attached, to non-governmental People’s Rights and Human Rights organizations.

13. Conduct extensive reforms in the Department of Justice, especially the office of the prosecutors and PAO, to enable them to deliver swift and fair justice and eradicate graft and corruption. 

a. JOHN DOE WARRANTS. Institutionalize safeguards in the use and implementation of John Doe warrants.  

Those arrested pursuant to John Doe warrants should undergo a separate preliminary investigation to establish identity and determine probable cause. 

As a deterrent to the improvident use of John Doe warrants, the arresting officer shall be required to submit additional requirements and/or evidence to ensure the identity of the person arrested other than the affidavit of arrest. The person arrested shall be released, pending the determination of identity. The arresting officer has the burden of proof to establish the identity of the person arrested.

In instances where violation of the constitutional rights of the person arrested is alleged such as in cases of illegal arrest, search and seizure, there should be no presumption of regularity in the conduct of persons in authority. All pieces of evidence adduced or presented as a result of such violations should be deemed inadmissible.

b. CRIMINALIZATION OF POLITICAL OFFENSES. Deter and put an end to the rampant practice of criminalization of political offenses even at the commencement of criminal investigations.  

As early as the preliminary investigation stage, a reference or allegation that the person arrested or charged is a member of any revolutionary organization or rebel group or is engaged in any related political activity, the crime charged should be rebellion and not any other common crime/s, consistent with the political offense doctrine in the case of People vs Hernandez. A public prosecutor who refuses or fails to abide by this guideline shall be held administratively liable.

c. INDIGENT AND PAUPER LITIGANTS. Conduct review of the policy and mandate of the Public Attorney’ Office (PAO) in the acceptance of indigent clients. Review should cover the screening process and to provide other additional requirements to ensure the economic status of the applicant. These are intended to ensure transparency in the acceptance of clients for representation. Expand coverage of those qualified to include those who cannot really afford the services of counsel de parte. The same principle must apply to pauper litigants.

d. HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION. Public lawyers and prosecutors should be oriented and continuously re-oriented on the issue of human rights.

e. MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION. To deter the rampant practice of employing dilatory tactics such as the filing of Motions for Reconsideration, there should be stricter rules on the incidents and stages where such motions may be filed.

f. RESOLUTION OF DOJ APPEALS. The periods for the resolution of appeals before the Secretary of Justice should be resolved with dispatch.

g. BAIL. There should be a thorough review of the existing bail schedule and guidelines. In recommendations as to the amount of bail, the primary consideration should be the economic status and financial capacity of the accused.  The coverage of the grant of bail on recognizance should be expanded.

h. MONITORING OF CASES. There must be a unified tracking and/or monitoring system of cases between the Supreme Court (SC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).  This is to better identify the causes of delay in any pending case. The information included in this system shall be accessible to the public.

14. Conduct extensive reforms in the judiciary to enable delivery of swift and fair justice; and get rid of corrupt judges and justices. 

a. IDENTITY OF ACCUSED. When there is a question as to the identity of the accused or the person arrested, such issue shall be determined first summarily and before arraignment.

b. PARALEGAL PRACTICE. Revive efforts for the drafting of guidelines in paralegal practice. Human rights and political cases shall be included in the coverage of these guidelines. 

c. ORAL ORDERS. To ensure that parties, especially the accused, can expeditiously avail of the remedies available under the law, oral issuance of interlocutory minute orders, without prejudice to the issuance of written orders later on, shall be encouraged.

d. WITNESS RULE. The 3-strike witness rule should be strictly implemented.  Failure of a witness to appear on three (3) occasions or instances – whether successive or not -- shall be considered a waiver of the right of the witness to be presented.

e. BAIL. Motions praying for the reduction of the amount of recommended bail shall be summary in nature.

f. EXCLUSION OF EVIDENCE. Motions for the exclusion of evidence must be resolved before arraignment.  There should be no presumption of regularity in the conduct of official acts. 

g. Parallel recommendations to implement parts a, b, c, d, e and g of No. 13 above must be undertaken.

15. Conduct extensive reforms in the penal system to ensure accountability and appropriate penalties for corrupt jail officials and moneyed prisoners and genuine rehabilitation of criminal offenders, especially the poor. 

a. There should be separate collective cells for political prisoners.

b. Hospital and/or house arrest for ailing and pregnant detainees shall be mandatory.

c. Penal facilities must be improved, with particular emphasis on adequate nursing facilities and immediate medical treatment.

d. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners should be strictly complied with.

e. Expeditious drafting and finalization of the implementing rules and regulations on pardon and the commutation of penalties.###