Monday, November 30, 2009

1st ASEAN Human Rights Office in the Philippines?

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stated that President Arroyo reaffirmed the Philippines' standing offer to host the office of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) during the ASEAN summit in October.

Launched on October 24, AICHR is the first human rights body of ASEAN and is currently housed at ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta during its initial stage.

The Philippines is ranked Partly Free by Freedom House, which strongly condemned the recent killings in Maguindanao.

Full article.

YouTube clip of the launch of AICHR.

Price of Rice Rises

The Financial Times reports a drastic spike in the price of rice, as demand for imports rise due to decimation of large parts of the domestic crop by storms. The Philippines import more rice annually than any other country, though they will compete with demand in India this year, which also suffered crop losses.

According to the International Rice Reseach Institute, rice consumption accounts for "
41% of total caloric intake and 31% of total protein intake" for the country as a whole.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"State of Emergency" Declared

The New York Times reports that a state of emergency has been declared in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kurat, as well as the city of Cotabo, following yesterday's massacre. 46 people have now been declared dead.

Under orders by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, two military battalions reached Mindanao yesterday and began setting up roadblocks and conducting searches. In addition to a prevention of future violence, the military is tasked with disarming individuals carrying unlicensed firearms - an issue which has been problematic to Mindanao in the past, but which had not been thrust into the spotlight until now. Additionally, the police have been granted "wider authority to arrest and detain" those suspected of being involved in yesterday's violence.

Monday, November 23, 2009

CNN Hero 2009

One of the 10 CNN Hero of 2009 was from Phillipine. Efren PeƱaflorida got the prize for establishing and leading Dynamic Teen Company. It was established, when he was a high school student, as a friendship club aiming to prevent other students from joining gangs. Now, Dynamic Teen Company growing big, and the teen volunteers teaches street children reading, writing and hyginic practice. Phillipine has high literacy rate and primary school enrollment (over 90%), but because of the poverty, some children still do not attend school at all and dropout rates are very high.
My entry was about education because before coming to ford school I worked in edcuation sector in Japan. Next week, I will write about relationship between Japan and Phillipine.

Political Violence in Mindanao Leaves 21 Dead

BBC reports that 21 politicians and journalists, who were abducted in Mindanao while trying to file nomination papers for a candidate in local elections, have been found dead. More members of the group, originally numbering between 30-40 people, are missing and feared to be dead.

Local reports state that the group was abducted by armed men while on its way to an election office in Maguindanao province to file nomination papers for a local mayor, Ismael Mangudadatu, who was reportedly planning to challenge local clan leader Datu Andal Ampatuan for the governor's office in the mainly Muslim province.

The Philippines armed forces report that of the 21 recovered bodies, 13 were female and 8 were male. There were signs of mutilation, and unconfirmed reports of beheading.

This incident reveals the problem of mounting violence during elections, particularly in the south. Registration for local and national races began earlier this month, and the country is to hold nationwide elections in May 2010.

Obama Announces Nomination for New Ambassador to the Philippines

On Nov. 19, President Obama announced his nomination of Harry K. Thomas, Jr. as Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines.

Harry K. Thomas, Jr., Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines
Harry K. Thomas, Jr. is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and served most recently as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources. He previously served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary and Executive Secretary of the Department. Thomas, who joined the Foreign Service in 1984, served as U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh from 2003 to 2005. He also served in the White House as the Director for South Asia at the National Security Council from 2001 to 2002. His other postings include: New Delhi, India; Harare, Zimbabwe; Kaduna, Nigeria; and Lima, Peru. He has served as Senior Watch Officer, Deputy Director, and Director of the State Department Operations Center; Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; and Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs. Thomas holds a bachelors degree from the College of the Holy Cr

(posted on behalf of JM)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Current Events in Human Rights

Two human rights-related issues are receiving special attention in the Philippines right now. The first is the passage of the Anti-Torture Act last week, which outlaws any form of torture or use of secret detention centers. The second story is the appointment of Norberto Gonzales as National Security Advisor.
Both of these are related to the on-going accusations of torture, extra-judicial killings, and harassment by military and police. The Anti-Torture Act will not only apply to future cases of torture, but it will also allow for the prosecution of past offenders, which is estimated to be around 1,000 cases. The appointment of Gonzales is controversial because of his previous role as head of the defense department, which is accused of being linked to human rights violations perpetrated by the military and police. He's also being questioned about how impartial he can be in the up-coming elections. Although he has stated that he'll ensure that elections will be run fairly, referring to Presidential candidate Teodoro as "our incoming president" doesn't inspire a lot of confidence...

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Meaning of Manny

Very interesting article on Manny Pacquiao, the Philippines' prized boxer and the only septuple (SEVEN times!) world champion in history.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Manila threatened by climate change.

Manila is among the major Asian cities most vulnerable to climate change, Reuter reports.

Full report available here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

HRW Urges Clinton to Press Arroyo on Killings

Human Rights Watch released a statement urging US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to press President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to prosecute military members responsible for politically motivated killings, during Clinton's visit to Manila on November 12 and 13.

With Clinton expected to discuss disaster management related to the recent typhoons in the Philippines, HRW believes that Clinton's visit is an opportune time to exert pressure for the Philippines Government to improve its human rights record.

HRW wants Clinton to address key crucial human rights issues, including:
  • insufficient investigation and prosecution of numerous extrajudicial killings in which the military has been implicated
  • inadequate address of the "death squads" in Davao City
  • signing of the Anti-Torture Bill
Read full article here.