Issues

10 NGOs Advocating for Human Rights in the Philippines

At time of writing this article, there were over a hundred political prisoners in prison in the Philippines. Many of them are tortured and mistreated during interrogations. Many people have disappeared, and civilians were killed over land disputes. The human rights situation in the Philippines is deteriorating in a fast pace and the Filipino government is doing very little to tackle the issues. Nevertheless, these following 10 human rights NGOs are constantly fighting for the improvement of the human rights situation in the country.

Amnesty International Philippines

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than seven million people who are independent of any type of political ideology, religion or economic interest and who take injustice personally. They campaign for the world in which human rights are enjoyed by all.

Through its office located in Manila, Amnesty International employs research, advocacy, lobbying and campaigns to fight for human rights in the country. They lobby for adoption of anti-torture laws, ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, reproductive health policies, abolition of the death penalty, juvenile justice and adoption of laws that would stop violence against women.

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) was established in 1998 in Manila as a federation of human rights organizations working on the issues of involuntary disappearances in Asia. They see enforced disappearances as one of the cruelest forms of human rights violations and work to support families of the disappeared.

They promote international solidarity among organizations of the families of the disappeared in Asia and other continents and provide support to their member organizations to better respond to this issue. AFAD also conducts campaigns and lobbies to address the issue of enforced disappearances in Asia to ensure there are truth, justice, and the reconstruction of the collective memory of the disappeared.

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates is human rights NGO working with a mission ‘’to develop a strong, progressive, dynamic, and pluralist human rights movement that engages the state to comply with its human rights obligations and non-state actors to fulfill their human rights responsibilities’’.

To achieve their goals, PAHRA conducts campaigns and advocates for the respect of human rights. They work closely with other human rights organizations, as well as with individuals and government agencies to promote and defend human rights. Since their establishment in 1986, PAHRA serves as an advocacy center committed to promotion of human rights and their recognition and realization as embodied in international human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

KARAPATAN

KARAPATAN was founded in 1995 as an alliance of groups, organizations and individuals working for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. They conduct several programs to raise awareness about human rights in the country, including education and training, services programs, documentation and research, and networking.

However, a large portion of KARAPATAN’s work involves campaigning and advocacy through which they seek to develop a strong public opinion and support for human rights issues and concerns. To achieve this, they lobby for the defense and promotion of human rights and disseminate information about the importance of human rights.

Philippine Human Rights Information Center

Philippine Human Rights Information Center or popularly known and PhilRights was founded by the PAHRA in 1991 as the research and information human rights NGO, and since then they gained a special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC and the UNDPI.

They conduct research and produce studies on terrorism, child soldiers, the death penalty, poverty and other pressing human rights issues in the Philippines. They also provide human rights education programs and trainings and document the cases of human rights violations, all while providing long-term support to victims of human rights violations and their families.

Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau

Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) is ‘’a is a feminist legal non-government organization composed of women’s rights activists, advocates and development workers’’. They were founded in 1990 with a goal of engaging in feminist legal advocacy and to pursue programs that uphold the rights of Filipino women.

Currently, they focus on women’s economic, social and cultural rights through maximizing gains won by women in arenas such as the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against women and other UN agencies and international organizations. They work to transform the society by engaging institutions to support women’s rights and dignity.

Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

The Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ is a network of NGOs working to advance rights of indigenous peoples in the country. They envision ‘’a society that promotes and defends indigenous peoples’ rights and upholds their self-determined development.

Their programs encompass network-building and information dissemination, research for enriched knowledge-base on indigenous peoples’ rights, sharing of resources and information exchange and capacity-building and policy advocacy. They also work to ensure indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral lands and resources in order to ensure their food security.

Campaign for Human Rights Philippines

Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) was founded in 2006 in response to the increasing number of political killings and human rights abuses in the country. They work to raise awareness of the critical human rights situation in the Philippines and put pressure on the government to investigate these killings and protect its citizens.

Their activities include holding seminars, hosting speaker tours and organizing protest actions. They also work to raise awareness in the UK about human rights situation in the Philippines and to put spotlight on the British investment and trade that benefit from the human rights violations in the Philippines.

PREDA Foundation

PREDA Foundation is a human rights NGO ‘’giving freedom and a new lease of life to the girls rescued from the streets, brothels, human traffickers and sex offenders and pedophiles’’. They also rescue young boys detained by the government from being abused and deprived from their children’s rights.

The heart of PREDA’s mission is working, educating and advocating human rights and especially children’s rights through public seminars and a theater group that tours internationally. They provide therapy and safe homes for children who suffered from abuse and promote their education and employment.

Free Legal Assistance Group

Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAF) is a human rights lawyers NGO committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and civil liberties in the Philippines. They advocate against political repression, police and military abuses, and death penalty.

FLAG is a leading NGO in prosecuting military and policemen and these actions have led to some landmark decisions before the courts. FLAG also incorporates the educative role of lawyers in their work with ‘’ a belief that the legal process is but part of a larger process that should involve those who are directly affected by a problem’’.

About the author

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Ada Hasanagic

Ada Hasanagić is a human rights professional currently working as a researcher at the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously, Ada graduated with honors from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and the University of Buckingham in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Also, she earned a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.