Monday, May 31, 2010

Democratic governance (UNDP Phils.)


Fostering Democratic Governance

To foster democratic governance, UNDP focuses on three strategic reform areas adopted in previous cooperation:

* Justice and human rights, which underscores a sustained and harmonized reform within and among the five pillars of the criminal justice system – law enforcement, prosecution, courts, corrections and community;
* Public administration, which emphasizes administrative reforms, anti-corruption measures, effective capacity building for national and local bureaucracy and partner institutions, and aid coordination; and
* Political development, which focuses on the enhancement of democratic political institutions, a responsive and effective process of legislation, credible and efficient electoral process and other political reforms.

The strategy emphasizes the progressive realization and implementation of the standards of human rights and institutionalization of reforms for democratic governance. This “rights-reforms” approach is grounded locally where interventions are directed not only at the national level but also, more importantly, demonstrated at the level of LGUs and grassroots communities.

The human rights approach underscores rights as entitlements of the people as “claim-holders”, particularly the women and disadvantaged sectors. The human rights approach emphasizes the trinity of state and non-state obligations to respect, protect and promote people’s rights. It calls to task the “duty-bearers” and capacitates them to perform their obligations in providing the enabling environment for expanding opportunities for human freedoms and human development. The approach for democratic governance involves reforms in the areas of policies, structures, programs and processes towards achieving more accountable, transparent, gender-sensitive and participatory governance institutions and processes.

To ensure the rights of the citizens, especially women and the disadvantaged sectors, in all governance reforms, UNDP supports efforts to empower the citizens and provide them opportunities to engage in governance processes by

* Enhancing their awareness and understanding, knowledge and analytical skills on policies, programs and mechanisms;
* Increasing their access to public information;
* Providing venues for policy dialogues;
* Creating and expanding opportunities for networking and linkage-building; strengthening their capacities to monitor government and non-government’s performance and practices; and
* Building their capacities to engage and represent their constituents in governance structures and processes.

In pursuit of reforms and institutionalization in the three strategic reform areas, UNDP supports initiatives that strengthen capacities of government and non-government entities to enable them to perform their mandates and obligations effectively to address the needs and rights of their constituents, including concerns related to women’s empowerment and gender-equity.

Justice Reforms

Under justice reforms, programme interventions are directed to achieve more accountable and rule-based institutions to enhance access by the poor to justice and human security. It strives to enhance the capacities of institutions such as the courts, prosecution, law enforcement agencies, the correctional and legal support groups by supporting:

the development, institutionalization, implementation of policies and mechanisms including indigenous practices, gender sensitivity approaches and alternative dispute mechanisms to address problems of the poor, especially among women, to gain greater access to justice;

efforts to ensure that the critical justice agencies increase their awareness and enhance their capacities in respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of the citizens, particularly the poor and disadvantaged through programs such as free legal assistance, education, and enhanced information and communication technologies;

rationalization, linkages and synergy among the various agencies under the five pillars of justice at all levels through inter-agency coordinative bodies and mechanisms like the National Council on the Administration of Justice and the barangay justice system; and (iv) efforts to strengthen and expand the stakeholder networks and partnerships among government, civil society, academe, church, private sector and media and their initiatives to advocate, review and monitor reforms in the justice and human rights sector.

Public Administration Reforms

Under public administration, UNDP supports government reforms directed towards a rationalized, efficient and effective bureaucracy, effective use of ODA, corrupt-free practices and ethical behavior at all levels. It strengthens the capacity of oversight government bodies to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate cases while engaging civil society organizations and media to monitor government projects and transactions, promoting initiatives to build a human rights and gender-balanced culture and exact performance and excellence in the public sector. Through these reforms, the access by the poor to quality and affordable social services shall be enhanced and expanded.

In fighting corruption, UNDP supports initiatives that contribute to greater transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior in public service. It strives to support:

* Executive and legislative tracks adopted by the national government to rationalize government functions, structures, and systems to make it more focused, accountable, transparent, efficient and effective through policy and structural reforms;
* Institutional reforms initiated by local and national agencies and anti-corruption bodies and mechanisms such as the Solana Covenant and the Executive Anti Corruption Plans;
* Use of information and communications technology in government for more transparent, efficient and accountable transactions and systems;
* Passage of anti-corruption bills such as strengthening the capacity of the Ombudsman to investigate and prosecute, protection of whistle-blowers, and the ratification and localization of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC);
* Strengthening the career executive service system and implementation of an education and advocacy program to include values formation and codes of conduct among professional groups and government executives; and
* Institutional and collective efforts of civil society, media, academe, the private sector, and unions to review and monitor government’s performance and advocate for a corruption-free and corruption-intolerant society.

In reforming local governance for more effective decentralization, UNDP supports initiatives that strengthen capacities of local institutions and LGUs. Support is extended to:

* Enhance capacities of local government units and LGU leagues to address effectively to human rights and gender concerns;
* Localize MDGs through policy-analysis, formulation, planning, budgeting, programming and resource mobilization;
* Mobilize and capacitate regional schools of public administration as governance learning and resource centers for LGUs and local communities;
* Address the challenges and opportunities of decentralization and local governance such as generation of local revenues, fiscal administration; anti-corruption; local justice system, political participation of the disadvantaged sectors especially women in decision-making;
* Replicate best practices, enhance local legislation, planning and implementation of services and programs especially on the MDGs;
* Strengthen inter-LGU partnerships, convergence and network-building to develop collective solutions to problems in the delivery of social services, protection of the environment, and resolution of conflicts;
* Conduct local policy dialogues that allow the voices of all sectors in local communities to be heard and seriously considered; and
* Engage local civil society organizations, academe, media and business sector to advocate, review and monitor LGU performance in the administration of justice, social services and political exercises.

UNDP recognizes that the achievement of the MDGs in the Philippines relies partly on effective aid management. Therefore, UNDP supports building the capacity of its planning department, NEDA, which is a key agency in the government's ODA management system. UNDP extends its assistance in building government’s capacity to design the MTPDP and the Medium-Term Philippine Investment Plan and ensure that MDGs are fully integrated in the planning and investment programming processes. Specifically, support is extended to NEDA to enhance its capacity in decision-making on how national investments can maximize contribution to the achievement of the MDGs and other development goals of the country.

Political Reforms

Under political reforms, UNDP’s support seeks to institute legislative, electoral and other political reforms to enhance democratic governance and increase the participation of the poor and disadvantaged especially among women in political processes. These reforms are pursued to strengthen capacities of political institutions such as Congress, Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the various political parties and policy support institutions to promote democratic policies, processes, structures, and practices. Areas of support include:

the conduct of policy studies and conferences that provide for sound analyses of current challenges and trends, and present options and alternatives that provide sound and lasting solutions to address political issues including Constitutional reforms;

enhancement of capacity of the electoral body to undertake electoral modernization, raise the level of political discourse, and educate the people on citizenship and the right of suffrage;

the passage of critical political reform measures such as the anti-dynasty bill, campaign financing, political party system and amendments to the Omnibus Election Code and Party-list law;

strengthening the capacity of the Special House Committee on the MDGs tasked to shepherd the process of review, formulation, budget appropriation and passage of MDG-supportive measures;

increase and strengthen the participation of women in electoral processes and political structures; and

other initiatives that expand and deepen the understanding, analytical and problem-solving skills of political institutions to effectively address the critical challenges that face the country today.

Overcrowded prisons in the Philippines; Red Cross helps.


17-03-2010 Feature
Philippines: saving lives in Antipolo City Jail

Overcrowding is a menace to health in many prisons in the Philippines. Yet something can be done – as one determined warden, armed with support from her hierarchy and from the ICRC, has shown. The ICRC’s Allison Lopez reports.

In June 2009, wearing her grey uniform and a cheerful smile, Superintendent Carolina Borrinaga started her new posting at the City Jail in Antipolo , a city some 30 kilometres east of the capital, Manila.

But Ms. Borrinaga’s smile slowly faded. When she began her rounds, she discovered sick inmates along the corridors and in dark corners of their cells. Hazardous smoke from burning firewood filled the air. The prisoners were unkempt and unreceptive to their new guardian.

"When I first arrived in Antipolo, my heart was breaking. There were many ill inmates. I'm used to jails – I used to inspect them – but this one was extraordinary because it was so overpopulated," she says, her voice cracking.

Overcrowding remains a serious concern for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), which has administrative control over the country's 1,132 city, district and municipal jails. According to the Bureau, the jail population rose from about 35,000 prisoners in 2000 to more than 58,000 in August 2009.

High mortality rate

Antipolo City Jail, which was built to hold 200 inmates, according to international standards, had nearly 800. But unlike other jails, the jail also had an alarming mortality rate that prompted the Bureau to assign Carolina Borrinaga there. A later evaluation showed that about 100 prisoners had ailments ranging from tuberculosis to unattended gunshot wounds.

The situation was urgent – her most challenging assignment, as she said later. In a meeting with the mayor of Antipolo and the ICRC, Ms. Borrinaga asked for help in providing medical assistance to the prisoners and renovating the detention facility.

The response was swift and effective, thanks to good coordination:. the jail authorities established lists of sick inmates and obtained permits from the court for their transfer, the local government provided doctors, and the ICRC paid for X-rays, other diagnostic tests, and certain medicines.

At the same time, Ms. Borrinaga drew on lessons she had learned from being a member of three working groups of the "Call for Action" process launched by the ICRC in 2007 and endorsed by the jail management bureau.

Call for concerted action

The Call for Action process aims to coordinate efforts of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities to identify and address both the causes of jail congestion and their consequences on inmates’ health and living conditions.

Jean-Daniel Tauxe, head of the ICRC delegation in the Philippines, says: "The ICRC saw the need to work with the authorities to tackle the situation in jails, focusing on three main concerns: upgrading penal facilities, tuberculosis management in jails and the need to improve the criminal justice process for inmates. The Call for Action is a pilot project that began here, but we believe it may be replicated in other countries."

On 17 March 2010, top officials from Philippine agencies like the BJMP, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Health, Congress and Supreme Court gathered at the "Call for Action" national conference to present the accomplishments of these initiatives, and to outline plans for future activities.

"These problems have long been identified but it's a matter of putting solutions into action,” says Carolina Borrinaga. “The Call for Action process helped us refocus our energy and resources, and reminded us that our mandate is not only safekeeping but development as well."

Implementing changes

Armed with inputs from the "Call for Action", and with full support of the Bureau, Ms. Borrinaga used Antipolo City Jail as a test site. She began overhauling the jail facility by purchasing a gas stove to eliminate smoke from firewood and by designating areas for drying clothes and smoking.

"She prioritized the inmates' health and she's very particular on hygiene. She's very active and dedicated in fixing the jail's problems," comments Juan Perfecto Palma, an ICRC nurse who has worked closely with the superintendent.

By the end of 2009, the wardress had made good on her promise to alleviate overcrowding with the inauguration of an annexe. This extension, built through a local prison ministries group with support from the ICRC, meets international standards on conditions of detention. Around 120 inmates are held there in greater comfort.

The transformation of the jail became more than just a physical facelift as the inmates—and their guards – started raising their self-esteem and taking responsibility for themselves.

"I tell them to value themselves. You leave your cases to the judge but how about you? How do you prepare for your life outside jail?" Ms. Borrinaga says.

Second chance

Inmates, she insists, deserve to be treated humanely and given a chance to live decently even behind bars.

"They are also human; they only live once. Those who have been there for years tell me it's the first time they have experienced this. Their stay in jail is an opportunity for them to change their lives. I just tell them, let this be a wake-up call for you," she remarks.

ICRC nurse Palma says: "Among the detention facilities I've been to, Antipolo is now one of the more progressive ones. We realize that the changes really depend on the dedication of the jail's management and the full commitment of the detaining authority."

Carolina Borrinaga believes she herself has been changed by her stint at Antipolo. "Touching the lives of these people also made me a better person. There are so many things you can do to help a lot of people. They just need someone to guide them," she says.

3-02-2010 Operational update
Philippines: protecting life and dignity in places of detention

The ICRC has been working with national authorities to address the causes of overcrowding in prisons and jails and its effect on inmates' living conditions and health. This is an update on these and other ICRC activities carried out in the Philippines in January 2010.

Improving conditions of detention

"Detention visits are the backbone of our operations in the Philippines, a country which has experienced decades of internal armed conflicts," said Jean-Daniel Tauxe, the ICRC's head of delegation in Manila. "We have seen that the overcrowding of jails and prisons has serious consequences on detainees' living conditions and health. Our usual practice of recommending improvements and providing technical support to the detaining authorities was not enough, so we developed a new, complementary strategy. In partnership with government officials and national agencies, we are planning and implementing changes for the benefit of all detainees."

Throughout 2009, the ICRC carried out 234 visits to over 66,000 detainees held in 139 places of detention. Together with the Philippine National Red Cross, the ICRC facilitated family visits for 312 inmates held far from their homes.

Access to safe water, sanitation, health care and acceptable living conditions is a major problem in overcrowded detention facilities. Last year, the ICRC:

* carried out renovation projects benefiting more than 11,000 inmates in 22 jails;
* supplied medical items and equipment to seven prison infirmaries and provided over 120 detainees needing immediate access to health care with the help they required;
* provided instruction for over 60 people in internationally recognized standards relating to water, sanitation, hygiene and living conditions generally in jails;
* assisted almost 2,000 detainees in four prisons affected by flooding in the aftermath of tropical storm Ondoy.

Another serious concern in overcrowded detention facilities is the spread of tuberculosis (TB). "Worldwide, tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of illness and death among inmates, and this is particularly true in countries with a high TB prevalence," said Dr Robert Paterson, an ICRC health coordinator. Overcrowding, an unhealthy manner of living and insufficient ventilation are among the factors that spread the disease among inmates. "You cannot keep TB behind bars: it readily escapes to affect the wider community, so controlling TB in jails is fundamental to protecting the general population against the illness."

Concerns about the spread of TB have prompted the ICRC to help implement the national tuberculosis programme, involving 30,000 inmates in seven pilot jails and prisons, in cooperation with the national agencies concerned and the World Health Organization.

Legal and procedural problems, which delay the processing of cases, are the root cause of overcrowding. Bringing together those who can address these issues is essential to finding durable solutions. A pilot project guided by this principle took place in Manila City Jail at the end of 2009. Representatives of the various agencies involved in processing inmates' files reviewed the most urgent cases, identified hurdles within the criminal justice system and provided means of overcoming them. As a result, a backlog of 250 cases was cleared. The strategy will expand to other jails in 2010.

The results of several initiatives addressing various aspects of jail congestion as well as suggestions for the future will be discussed at a national conference due to take place in Manila in March. Representatives of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the Bureau of Corrections, the Supreme Court, the Department of Health and other national agencies will be attending.

Humanitarian situation

Active hostilities have been suspended since July 2009 in Central Mindanao, where about 100,000 people who fled their homes in August 2008 nevertheless remain displaced and still rely on aid provided on a regular basis by various agencies, including the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross. The ICRC welcomes peace talks and other initiatives that may enable civilians to resume their normal lives. The prospects remain unclear, however.

Campaigning for presidential elections, set for May 2010, has gathered momentum against a backdrop of political instability. Assassinations, allegedly related to elections and culminating in the horrendous killing of 57 people in Central Mindanao, have triggered massive protests among Filipinos and the international community.

Acts of banditry and cases of kidnapping for ransom are common occurrences in the southern Philippines. In Sulu, which remains off limits for ICRC staff for security reasons, ICRC aid for people displaced by armed violence is channelled through local representatives of the Philippine Red Cross.

Frequent armed clashes between government forces and the New People's Army in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao are having an impact on the livelihoods of civilians and often limiting their access to basic services.

"Our staff regularly visit conflict-affected areas all over the Philippines, including remote villages where problems are often acute," said ICRC delegate Valerie Houetz. "We seek dialogue with all parties to conflict, to remind them that civilians and those no longer fighting are protected under international humanitarian law and must be spared."

Because the risk of typhoons and other natural disasters is high in the Philippines, the ICRC is helping the Philippine Red Cross to build up its capacity to respond. The Philippine Red Cross deployed trained volunteers in response to tropical storm Ondoy and together with the ICRC provided safe drinking water and proper sanitation for over 18,000 people.

The ICRC also donates vehicles, first-aid kits and other equipment to some local Red Cross chapters to strengthen their capacity to respond to conflict-related incidents. In addition, it organizes training in first aid, emergency response and assessment and planning.

Helping displaced and resident communities

In 2009, the ICRC:

* distributed nearly 4,600 metric tonnes of rice, 1.1 million litres of oil and other items together with the Philippines Red Cross. It provided over 8,000 essential household items such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets and hygiene kits for displaced families, including those affected by armed violence in Sulu and tropical storm Ondoy;
* improved access to water and sanitation for 30,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and residents in six major evacuation areas in Central Mindanao. In the Visayas, the ICRC improved access to water and sanitation for 5,000 people living in remote areas of Negros and Samar;
* renovated six primary health-care centres in Central Mindanao, where over 30,000 people went for consultations, and kept them supplied with regular donations of drugs and medical consumables. The ICRC also provided medicines, surgical materials and other essential items for 10 hospitals throughout Mindanao. It offered individual support to over 220 particularly vulnerable patients to ensure that they had access to adequate care;
* carried out a hygiene promotion campaign in cooperation with the Philippines Red Cross in 18 evacuation centres to encourage people to adopt safe hygiene practices.

"When we arrived at the evacuation centre, we had to rely on the river for all of our hygiene needs – washing, brushing teeth, and even as a comfort room," said Bembo Alamasa, who, together with her husband and six children, has been displaced since August 2008. "There had been no problem in our small village, but in a huge evacuation centre one can get sick. Now I know how to teach my children to wash hands, keep water clean and maintain proper hygiene, and we will do so even at home."

Promoting international humanitarian law

The ICRC has been supporting the authorities in their efforts to promote international humanitarian law.

In a major breakthrough, the Philippine government signed Republic Act No. 9851, the "Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity," into law in December.

Representatives of military training institutions from South-East Asia expanded their knowledge of international humanitarian law by taking part in a regional workshop, hosted in December by the Philippine Military Academy, which brought together 26 participants from 11 countries.

Sixteen teams from leading law schools in the Philippines took part in a moot-court competition on international humanitarian law; the winner will represent the country at a regional competition in Hong Kong in March.

For further information, please contact:
Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 918 907 21 25
Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26

Libel and the working press

A fate worse than death:Jailed for serial libel suits

Rotten criminal justice system (PCIJ)

A ‘rotten’ criminal justice system

Reinventing the justice system


Reinventing the Philippine Criminal-justice System
Written by Bobby Reyes
Wednesday, 11 April 2007 00:36

It is necessary to "reinvent" the criminal-justice system of the Philippines if people want to reduce, if not eradicate, corruption, especially among government workers and public servants. If the crooks cannot be brought to justice in a swift and orderly manner, there can never be any practical way to reduce, if not eliminate, graft and corruption.

Excerpts from "How to Reinvent the Criminal-Justice System of the Philippines:"

* 1.0 I discussed also the merit of introducing the Jury System (JS) in my position paper called, "Reinventing the Criminal-Justice System (CJS) of the RP" (still unpublished), which I prepared for the then presidential bid of Sen. Nene Pimentel. It was supposed to be part of his platform of government. I was then the senator's spokesman to the Overseas Filipinos.

1.1 BTW even if I reached only the fourth-year at the Ateneo de Manila College of Law, I defended myself in the jury trial of a libel case filed against me in the Superior Court of Los Angeles, CA. An American libel suit is only a civil case, as libel is not treated as part of the CJS in the United States, unlike in the Philippines where the defendant becomes the accused, who has to post bail and go to jail if convicted.

1.1.1 I won five out of the seven issues that were raised in the plaintiffs' complaint. I did not present any witness and due to my haste, I failed to ask the presiding judge to accept the exhibits that I presented during my cross examination of the plaintiffs' seven witnesses. Some of the exhibits that I should have presented were the testimony of the plaintiff's bookkeeper during a deposition made prior to the jury trial and the financial documents that I obtained through a court-issued subpoena. In fact, very few Filipino-American lawyers appear in jury trials, as they said that they do not have the training for it.

1.2 I have asked some fellow Ateneo Law alumni to help in finalizing my draft of the proposal but we still on the drawing board. Perhaps the senior Philippine legislators and leaders may be able to help complete the proposal and/or do a more-thorough study.

* 2.0 For purposes of this discussion in the MabuhayRadio forum, let us examine the merits and demerits of introducing the JS as part of the civil and/or criminal-justice systems (C/CJS) in the RP.

2.1 RE: The merits of adopting the JS, especially in the CJS of the RP. No doubt, the JS will elevate the C/CJS to a level "beyond the sabotage by, or control of, government officials," the rich, the powerful and/or the influential segments of Philippine society.

2.2 The major hindrance (demerit) of the JS is the fact that litigants who opt for the civil trial by jury have to pay the allowances given to the jurors (all 12 of them plus the four alternates). The American civil-justice system permits the so-called "pauper litigants" to dispense with paying the jurors' fees but in practice, very few litigants are given the right to do so, as the application process is very tedious.

2.2.1 Please note also that in civil cases, an American respondent (defendant), who cannot afford counsel, is not given the right to be defended by the so-called Office of the Public Defender (OPD). That right to counsel, as stated in the so-called Miranda Ruling, applies only to the accused (in criminal cases) who cannot afford to hire private lawyers.

2.2.2 The problem of funding, which presently ails the Philippine Department of Justice and the court system of the homeland, will no doubt prevent or limit the introduction of the JS in the RP. I have, however, suggested the introduction of the JS in the military justice system as you will find in par. 2.4 and its subparagraphs.

2.2.3 Several legal-aid societies organized by well-meaning Filipino lawyers (acting pro bono) are doing in the RP the functions of the American OPD. The RP has to come up with its version of the OPD and even strengthen it by modifying some of its practices to suit local conditions.

2.3 In fact, what I was trying to recommend (as Step One in "Reinventing the Philippine CJS") in my position paper was for the Philippines to establish and subsidize a Filipino version of the OPD, which is an omnipresent feature of the American CJS. Without a functional and well-funded OPD, the JS will not work in a CJS, as proposed for the RP.

2.3.1 As the Los Angeles Times said in its series, "Ground-Level Justice," the OPD has 15 deputy public defenders assigned to the Los Angeles Superior Court in the City of Norwalk, California. The County of Los Angeles has Superior Courts not only in Norwalk but also in several cities such as Los Angeles, Pomona (for the so-called Pomona Valley), Citrus in West Covina (for the San Gabriel Valley), Pasadena, and other locations. Each Superior Court has a well-funded and maintained OPD, which boasts of well-educated and trained trial lawyers. BTW to read the five-part LA Times series, as written by John Balzar, an LA Times staff member, please log on to

2.4 Step Two is my suggestion of commissioning all public officials and civil servants into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and all cases for graft, corruption and/or criminal misconduct (filed against any public servant by any person, including civilians) be heard and decided within 60 to 90 days by a Court Martial.

2.4.1 The AFP's Judge Advocate General's Office (JAGO) will have to be "reinvented," so that a military version of the JS will be in place, with a civilian-controlled OPD handling the defense for the accused public servant(s).

2.4.2 For a the jurors' pool, my suggestion was to tap not only the AFP's four branches (army, air force, navy and marines) but also law students and former law students, so that the Court-martial experience will further train them for the eventual introduction of the JS in the civil courts.

2.4.3 I suggested also that law students be tapped and deputized to prosecute graft cases, especially those involving the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Immigration, where reports of rampant corruption are being reported almost daily in newspapers. The rationale for this suggestion is that it will be very difficult for a man of influence and/or affluence (who is charged with a crime) to bribe and/or threaten the whole college of law while it would be easier to do so when dealing with a single prosecutor like the provincial or city fiscal (equivalent of the American District Attorney).

* 3.0 Other Suggested Steps in "Reinventing the Philippine CJS:"

3.1 Indeed the JS has to be introduced to give more humanity to the C/CJS of the RP but on a well-planned and staggered basis.

3.1.1 The RP has to change the curriculum in its colleges of law, so that the law students not only learn the JS theory but also the actual practice as may be experienced in the Court Martial (as stated in par. 2.4.2), which will replace the school's Moot Court.

3.1.2 The RP has to invite American Superior Court judges, especially those of Filipino descent, to give seminars on the JS in the Philippines while at the same time scheduling Filipino Regional Trial Court (RTC) judges to go to the United States and attend jury trials as observers.

3.2 Reinventing the country's bail-bond system, so that the poor litigants -- who have no previous criminal record and sane (meaning, those who do not plead insanity as a defense) -- are temporarily set free during the pendency of the trial on their own recognizance or given to the custody of their parish priest, church minister or pastor or employer or the OPD.

3.2.1 This recommendation will decongest the overcrowded jails, especially for nonviolent or less-serious offenses. As of now, defendants of petty-theft cases, whose maximum jail term if convicted is one year or so, serve in detention (during the often-delayed trial) longer than what it would take them to serve the sentence if found guilty.

3.3 Requiring the Bench (RTC judges) simply to pronounce the guilt or innocence of the accused without being required to put down in writing the court's decision. Only when there is an appeal in civil and/or criminal cases should an RTC judge be required to submit in writing (within 60 days from the time it is pronounced) the decision, including the legal basis for the conviction or judgment, aside of course from the facts that the parties established during the trial.

3.3.1 The basis for my recommendation is that the jurors in the United States are not required to put down in writing their decision. If we have to adopt the JS, then we might as well follow the practice of just deciding the guilt or non-guilt of the accused.

3.3.2 Freeing the RTC judges and his/her staff of the job of writing down every court decision will give them more time to hear and decide (other) cases on a faster pace. There are other aspects and suggestions in my position paper but there are more-than sufficient items for discussion.

Perhaps readers can incorporate them in the draft of the proposed amendments to the CJS of the country -- after they/we have deliberated them further in this MabuhayRadio forum. # # #

Juvenile justice in the Philippines



Marianne Murdoch-Verwijs, LLM (Free University, Amsterdam)


The problems of street children and juvenile delinquents are much related social problems. To survive in the street you almost have to become delinquent. Exposed to criminal elements these children are vulnerable to prostitution, drug addiction and pushing and commission of crimes. Most street children have become juvenile delinquents either out of necessity (because they are poor) or through force (because of the syndicates). Young people in the streets are also criminalized and stigmatized for no obvious crime committed. So many times the streets were cleaned up at the start of the tourist season and as a consequence many street children were jailed because of vagrancy laws.

A large problem arose from the treatment accorded to the juveniles when they were placed in jails. Most juvenile delinquents were not segregated from the hardened adult criminals in the biggest jails in the Philippines, such as in the Muntinlupa jail outside Manila, so that after their release they went back in the street with more knowledge of crime. This severely hampered the social integration of the youth offenders after they left prison. Chances were high that these young offenders would become chronic delinquents and eventually hardened criminals.

Presidential Degree no. 603 otherwise known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code was signed into law on December 10, 1974 and became effective six months after its approval. This code mentions in Chapter 3, articles 189-204, the care and treatment of youthful offenders from the time of apprehension up to the termination of the case.

Before Marcos time the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts provided a unique form of adjudication to youthful offenders and disposal of family cases. It was effective in administering justice, because the methods were not adversarial, but it was oriented to rehabilitation. It viewed the minor as a victim not as an aggressor. It undertook the reformation of the youth with the purpose of integration of him or her into mainstream society.

However, on January 17, 1980 the Judiciary Reorganization Act or Batasang Pambansa 129 abolished the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts. Section 23 of that law authorized the Supreme Court to designate certain branches of the Regional and Municipal Courts to act exclusively on juvenile and domestic relations cases. However, these courts functioned also as courts of general jurisdiction which meant that separate proceedings for youthful offenders were not possible. This in spite of the fact, that the Philippines had signed all the International Treaties concerning the rights of children.

In the final years of the Marcos era, crime became hardened in the street. Between 1976 and 1983 murder, robbery, theft, rape and homicide rose from 37% to 58% of all crimes committed. Delinquent youth doubled from 3,814 in 1987 to 6,778 in 1989. The majority (59.1 %) apprehended were between 17 and 21 years old, while another 31.8% were between 13 and 16 years old. Only 2.3 % were preteens. This was the situation based on data given by the Department of Social Welfare (1).

Under Pilipino law, article 189 of Presidential Decree 1179, a youthful offender is over nine but under eighteen years of age of the time the offence is committed. Children under the age of nine are exempt from criminal responsibility and those between nine and fifteen are liable only if they are able to demonstrate discernment, which is a level of intellectual maturity including the ability to distinguish right from wrong.

There are seven penitentiaries in the Philippines. Two of them are in Metro Manila, two elsewhere in Luzon, one in the Visayas and two in Mindanao. As of November 1992, these penitentiaries had a total of 14,007 inmates. More than half of them (or 7,717) were at the Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, which is the most crowded. There were 72 provincial jails, one for every province, in the country. There are 60 city jails and 1,506 municipal jails all over the country. The conditions in these jails and rehabilitation centres were deplorable. The worst one was the rehabilitation centre named the Molave Youth Center. According to PAHRA (2), the Molave Youth Home suffered from a 67% rate of congestion. Its ideal capacity was only 100 yet an average of 167 offenders was being housed there.


Many rights of the youth were not adequately protected by the State, although the Philippines had signed all the International Treaties concerning children’s rights including:

- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which had been ratified in the Philippines on July 1990 and become effective on September 2 1990

- Beijing Rules

- The Riyadh Guidelines

- The United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.

The following were some examples of rights infringed by the State of the Philippines:

- The criminal justice system provides inadequate rehabilitation and mostly punishes criminal behaviour of youth. However the international treaties, for which the Philippines was a signatory, put emphasis on the fact that children should not be detained in jails and in exceptional cases, if they are detained, then only for a very short time. Because of lack of funds there are still not enough programs for education, vocational training and rehabilitation centres.

- Young offenders, many of them first offenders were mixed with professional, “hardened criminals’, thereby turning jails and prisons into schools of criminality. In Camp Sampaguita only 23.53% were detained in separate cells for minors (3). This non-segregation can be one reason why the numbers of street children and crimes were rising.

- Inadequate health care (often totally absent) and subhuman conditions in the jails and prisons condemned many a young inmate to an early death or to inflict irreparable harm to their physical and mental health (4).

- While the State as Parents Patriae was expected to offer and to give special care to its young offenders, it instead negligently allowed a number of young people to enter the gates of jails and prisons with the least amount of legal protection during the litigation process. There were no juvenile courts, lawyers, psychologists, probation officers who were specialized in dealing with the youth.

- Children in conflict with the law were serving stiff sentences, doing time over and above their sentence, awaiting action on their appeal for too long a time with no hope of being attended to soon. Often they were unable to avail themselves of the benefits of pardon or parole due to lack of knowledge about these options.

- The resolution of cases in the courts was extremely slow and often unfinished. For example, for every 100 criminal proceedings 36 were resolved and 64 remained pending. As most young detainees had no money to obtain bail this contributed to overcrowding in the prisons. Another contributing factor to the congestion of jails and detention centres was the lack of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court as it had been abolished which increased the backlog of untried cases.

- A danger at that time was also the reintroduction of the death penalty. Some of the young inmates could get this sentence if they had reached the adult age when on trial (5).

To address the problems of juvenile justice, I focused on:

a) Provision of legal advice to youth offenders and improve the education of aspiring lawyers.

b) Improved Legal protection of youth offenders

AKAP (Adikain Para sa Karapatang Pambata) (Ateneo Human Rights Center)

In 1993, there was no organization that provided legal attention to young offenders who were generally more vulnerable in an already corrupt judicial system. All the NGOs for children were concentrating on street children but no attention was given at all to children in conflict with the law. Most NGOs were unaware of the problem as it was generally impossible to enter the jails and prisons to identify the problems (6).

At that time there were no juvenile courts, lawyers, psychologists, probation officers available who were specialized in dealing with youth offenders. Police was totally untrained in how to deal with the young ones.

As a first step to provide legal attention to young offenders, a legal desk for children, AKAP, was established in November 1993 at the Human Rights Center of the University of Ateneo.

This desk focused on:

- The continuing formation of human rights lawyers especially in the field of children in conflict with the law.

- The monitoring of the human rights situation in the Philippines and abroad.

- Human rights research, education, and publications.

- Legal assistance to indigent victims of human rights violation.

This desk was the first one of its kind in the country after Marcos had abolished legal aid to children. With this desk legal assistance could be given to young offenders. A programme to train children’s advocates through special courts in Child Law was introduced. Having the legal desk at the University raised the awareness of the problems of the children in conflict with the law to the law students who came mostly from the upper and middle classes.

PAYO (Philippine Action for Youth Offenders)

It is very hard for developing countries to improve a juvenile justice system, when they are already struggling with scarce resources. Therefore it is important to do the networking and the coalition of NGOs as each one of them has the money needed to start and make changes. When the State has not the authoritative power to change the status quo then, maybe the individual or an NGO does. Among the rich Filipinos there were always people with a golden heart to help their poor fellowmen with continuous fundraising. Some of these rich families were even prepared to give land away for building houses for the underprivileged of their society. Besides Filipinos helping other Filipinos, many foreigners gave much voluntary aid to develop the country.

During the time President Ramos was in office, a group, of which I was a founder, called PAYO (Philippine Action for Youthful Offenders) was established on 9 December 1993 as a national coalition of organizations, government agencies and individuals working for the protection of the rights and welfare of youthful offenders and children in conflict with the law.

PAYO was set up to do the following:

- Lobby for the improvement, implementation and promulgation of legislations/laws and other related measures which would protect and benefit the youth offenders.

- Pursue and intensify a continuing public information and education campaign to the public on the rights and situation of the young offenders.

- Coordinate all efforts and services of non-government organizations, government agencies and individuals willing to work for the rights of the youth offenders and work for the improvement of their conditions.

The first action of PAYO was to ask for:

- Legislation to create and restore the defunct juvenile delinquent court which was abolished by Batas Pambansa Blg., otherwise known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 by President Ferdinand Marcos.

- Reintroduction of the Juvenile Courts.

- Segregation of the children from the adults in jails and prisons.

- Education of police, correctional and rehabilitation staff, especially guards, about the rights of children in conflict with the law.

PAYO would primarily focus on assisting children below 18 years old who were in conflict with the law including those already detained or imprisoned. At the same time this organization would assist those who were children when imprisoned but who reached the age of 18 while in prison. Children had to be ensured that when in jail they are informed and educated about their Human Rights as children and as individuals.


NGOs that previously did not work together now started to do so. Through the coordination of 30 NGOs together with the help of UNICEF, WHO and the Social Welfare Department, Justice Department, previous child judges, senators and other politicians more legal aid for youth offenders was provided and PAYO succeeded in getting the Family Courts Act enacted by Congress on 28 July 1997 and signed into law by President Ramos as Republic Act 8369 on 28 October 1997.

On the basis of several research studies by the different NGOs, PAYO made a difference and impact on the general prevalence and types of crime. The number of streetchildren declined from a high of 1,500,000 to around 20-40,000 (7). The number of delinquents, which had risen from 3,817 in 1987 to 6778 in 1989 (1), has fallen to around 2000 since the formation of PAYO.

As a result of PAYO, the Philippines now have a wider range of national executive orders and laws implemented providing for the welfare and protection of youth in conflict with the law:

- Child and Youth Welfare Code (PD 603).

- Dangerous Drug Act of 1972.

- Republic Act 7610. The Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act 1992.

- Republic Act 83369 of 1997, an act establishing family courts, granting them exclusive original jurisdiction over child and family cases.

Without these legal provisions it was impossible to change the situation of youth in conflict with the law especially those on death row. Once the Act for the protection of children rights was established, children in conflict with the law were segregated from adults in the prisons. Furthermore legal aid could be given immediately where it was needed. Those who were on death row were the first ones to be helped.

PAYO took also care that a police manual was published and that the police force got training sessions as well. Child and Youth Relations Officers now exist within some police stations with the responsibility to ensure that child suspects are treated appropriately as set out in the special regulations.


In developing countries like the Philippines, the reality contradicts what the law is describing. In the Philippines, the individual is blamed for his wrongdoings. And yet not much is done by the state to correct structural inequality of the classes, overpopulation and the corruption of politicians and the judiciary. No drastic changes are being made by the state for the betterment of the individual, so the status quo remains. If the state is not prepared to help juvenile delinquents surely the crime rate will rise, because they are learning from the adults in the prison. Furthermore the problem of AIDS will increase. The solution to the problem of controlling juvenile delinquency is not incarceration but good education and vocational training thus emphasizing prevention and rehabilitation.

When we are dealing with children in conflict with the law, we are dealing with children who had a bad start in life with circumstances and experiences very difficult to accept. The state has the obligation according to articles 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect all children and to translate all rights in the Convention into reality. So when we are talking about children in conflict with the law we are not only appealing to articles 37, 39 and 40, but to all articles of this Convention. Now the main legal protection for underprivileged youth is implemented in the Philippines, the Government of this country has the obligation to show the world its role as a true protector of human rights. A constructive social policy for all young people will help in the prevention of juvenile delinquency with emphasis on free education. Many who are abandoned, neglected, abused, exposed to drug abuse are in marginal circumstances and are in general at social risk. Those should have the immediate attention of the authorities and NGOs.

There should be a move away from institutionalization and children, in their best interest, should be rehabilitated as early as possible and integrated back into society, so that they can play a constructive role. For those who have become hardened criminals as young as they are, there can not be another way of living. For them miracles of change are only possible when a religious aspect is brought into their live as we can witness from the book about Father Tritz (8) published by the International Labour Organization and from my own field experiences.

When we are dealing with the problem of juvenile justice, we have to be aware that in most countries in this world the local NGOs and governments spend much money for the solution of the problem of street children, however little or none for children in conflict with the law. Government and NGOs in general are not aware of the fact that the problem of street children and children in conflict with the law are related social problems.

We have to also put the emphasis on the problem of the disease of AIDS, since prisons and jails are a hearth for getting this disease. The disease of AIDS is at this moment the most frightening and devastating disease in this world and in this century. It is pandemic in developing world particularly in Africa and South-Asia. In prisons HIV spreads with frightening efficiency due to sexual abuse, lack of access to condoms, lack of harm reduction measures for drug users and most of all lack of information. It is of the utmost importance for the world to understand that children in conflict with the law always have to be separated from the adult prisoners. All children have a right to ask for total protection by the State and the world as these rights are described in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.


- (1) Survey on young offenders at Camp SAMPAGUITA and Correctional Institute for Youth from the Bureau of Child and Youth Welfare, Department of Social Welfare, 1992, pgs. 4-7.

- (2) Report of the PHILIPPINE ALLIANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES ( P A H R A ) on Human Rights in the Philippines for the 58th Session of the UNCHR, 18 to 28 March 2002, Geneva Switzerland,, p. 9.

- (3) See ref. (1), p. 20.

- (4) Summer Newsletter of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines of the Episcopal Commission on Prisoners Welfare, Vol.3, August 1993 p. 29.

- (5) See ref. (4), p. 9.

- (6) See ref. (4), p. 6.

- (7) The street children of Asia, Child hope, Asia, 1992, p. 15 and 16.

- (8) Grandir à Manille, les 75000 enfants du père Tritz, Gilles Lambert et Christian Brincourt, Bayard éditions/Centurion 1995, ISBN 2.227.304.065.

Top 10 Scary Legal Myths for Attorneys - Insider Tips - Strategist

Top 10 Scary Legal Myths for Attorneys - Insider Tips - Strategist

Unemployed lawyers volunteer

Will Litigate for Food: NJ AG Takes On Attorney Volunteers - Legal Lifestyle - Strategist

2nd Circuit Lets Loose on Attorney Ad Restrictions

2nd Circuit Lets Loose on Attorney Ad Restrictions - Law Firm Marketing - Strategist

Weak justice system fuels Mindanao war .

Weak justice system fuels Mindanao war -, Philippine News for Filipinos

Inutility of the Ombudsman

Same story -, Philippine News for Filipinos

Psychiatrists and the rule of law.

There is nothing crazy about seeing a psychiatrist - SECURITY BLANKET By Dr. Nina Halili-Jao | The Philippine Star Other STAR Sections Allure

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Solo law practice

Hang Out a Shingle? Don’t Bother, Says Solo.
By Elie Mystal
26 May 2010 at 4:42 PM

Whenever somebody advises you to not do something they themselves are currently doing, you have to take the advice with a bit of skepticism. The cynics among you will not be surprised that a solo practitioner advises against young attorneys starting their own solo practice. Who needs the competition?

We’ve detailed how difficult it is to start a solo practice before. But given how many people breezily suggest that displaced attorneys can just “hang out a shingle” and make money, Scott Field’s advice written on the Texas Lawyer (gavel bang: ABA Journal) seems timely and appropriate:

[M]y first suggestion for recent law school graduates considering going solo is: don’t. A recent graduate should find a job somewhere where he can gain experience and receive on-the-job training. By doing so, he will learn how to practice law — something law school does not teach. Experience matters. Recent graduates should try to get some before going solo.

People thinking they are going to go to law school and have a solo practice as their safety net should listen to that advice too…

I’m sure Scott Field knows what I do: sharing the benefit of your experience to tell young people what they shouldn’t do makes no impact on what young people will do. Don’t open up your own shop with no experience? Whatever. I once knew a guy who was friends with a guy who did this and made a bunch of money!

So Field gives the young lemmings some advice as they scurry past him towards the cliff. I particularly like his second piece of advice for new solos:

Pound the pavement. Most solos coming right out of law school are not going to have a built-in client base, but will depend almost exclusively on referrals from other lawyers. Constructing a referral network is vital.

For this reason, the new solo attorney should attend bar events, join networking groups and generally find any way to increase visibility. She should also work hard to maintain all existing contacts in the legal community and to make new ones. She should take other lawyers to lunch, get to know people and tell them about her practice. This practice has the added benefit of helping avoid the isolation that often comes with being solo.

I love it because a lot of people looking at solo practice right now are doing so because they couldn’t get a job at a firm. In this market, firm jobs (especially in small law) are only coming free for those who are masters at networking.

But running a solo practice requires a Ph.D in networking. If you couldn’t network your way into a firm job, your solo practice is probably dead on arrival because you lack the skills necessary to build a client base. Why would someone right out of school be more successful getting clients and referrals than he or she was at getting interviews and job offers?

If you’re looking at solo practice not because you have to, but because the thrill of being your own boss appeals to you, consider this last piece of advice from Field:

Do not work all the time. Work as regular a schedule as possible. If there is no emergency to handle, stop at a set time and get away from the law. Spend time with family or friends. Read a book. Find a hobby. Exercise.

This seems like the most crucial advice of all (except the exercise part: wouldn’t you rather be working than torturing yourself climbing stairs that lead to nowhere or running in place like an idiot gerbil). Being your own boss means that you are ultimately responsible for everything, and if you don’t know how to handle it “burnout” is right around the corner. There are kids preparing for the bar right now that can’t set reasonable limits on how much they study. In a few months they’re going to be able to put reasonable limits on their own start-up company? Not bloody likely.

Which really brings us full circle. If you are a recent law graduate who hasn’t been able to get a job and is therefore considering starting your own practice: don’t. Just don’t. Step away from the ledge and come up with a better idea. You might feel like your career is in free fall, but you haven’t even come close to terminal velocity.


The Most Scandalous Filipino Lawyer in America -, Philippine News for Filipinos

The Most Scandalous Filipino Lawyer in America -, Philippine News for Filipinos

Human Rights Watch: The Philippines.

Events of 2009

The Philippines is a multiparty democracy with an elected president and legislature, a thriving civil society sector, and a vibrant media. Several key institutions, including the judiciary and law enforcement agencies, however, remain weak, meaning the military and police still commit human rights violations with impunity. Politically motivated extrajudicial killings and targeted killings of alleged petty criminals continue, with the government failing to acknowledge and address involvement by the security forces and local officials.
Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances

Hundreds of leftist politicians, political activists, journalists, and outspoken clergy have been killed or abducted since 2001. So far only 11 people have been convicted for these extrajudicial killings, two in 2009. No member of the military active at the time of the killing has been brought to justice for such crimes. In an April 2009 follow-up report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston observed that while the government has taken some steps to address extrajudicial killings, it fails to implement needed reforms such as institutionalizing the principle of command responsibility. He also noted that the military has not changed its counterinsurgency methods to eliminate the likelihood of unlawful killings.

On November 23, 2009, in the worst apparent politically motivated violence in recent history, about a hundred armed men abducted and executed at least 47 people, including a dozen members of a candidate's family and accompanying journalists in Maguindanao province. The victims were en route to file Buluan Vice Mayor Ishmael Mangudadatu's certificate of candidacy for governor in the May 2010 elections. Local officials, police, and paramilitary forces were implicated in the killings. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered an investigation.

In March 2009 former Police Superintendent Rafael Cardeno, one of the men who ordered the December 31, 2001 murder of Young Officers' Union spokesperson Baron Cervantes, was convicted of murder. On April 29, 2009, Joy Anticamara was convicted of homicide and sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment for the July 2006 killing of radio broadcaster Armando Pace.

In August 2009 a Manila court acquitted Aniano Flores, a military agent, of the 2002 killing of activist Edilberto Napoles, an organizer of the leftist political party Bayan Muna. The judge noted that prosecutors should have included Gen. Jovito Palparan on the charge sheet, on the basis of command responsibility. In 2002 prosecutors had recommended the court dismiss the complaint against Palparan and Sgt. Rizal Hilario, finding there was no probable cause to indict them for conspiracy to murder. Palparan, a retired military commander and now party-list representative in Congress, was considered a "prime suspect behind the extrajudicial killings" by the government's 2006 Melo Commission.

Meanwhile, optimism over Supreme Court writs to compel military and other government officials to release information on people in their custody was dampened by difficulty in enforcing the writs of amparo and habeas data. In September 2008 the Court of Appeals granted writs for the release of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, abducted allegedly by military personnel in mid-2006. In March 2009, however, the court failed to enforce the writs.
Targeted Killings of Petty Criminals and Street Youths

So-called death squads operating in Davao City, General Santos City, Digos City, Tagum City, and Cebu City continue to target alleged petty criminals, drug dealers, gang members, and street children. Police officers and local government officials have been implicated in the decade-old killing spree that has plagued Davao City: according to human rights groups, more than 89 Davao residents were murdered in death squad killings from January to early September 2009, bringing the total to more than 926 victims since 1998. In May 2009 President Arroyo ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government and the police to "get to the bottom" of the killings.

The national Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has spearheaded efforts to investigate the death squads, holding three public hearings in Davao City since March 2009, and in June setting up a multi-agency taskforce involving police, military, and other government agencies to conduct investigations. The taskforce has uncovered human remains, guns, and ammunition on land belonging to a former police officer, but in the courts it has faced obstructions and unnecessary bureaucratic delays.
Conflict in Mindanao

The armed conflict between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front intensified in the first half of 2009, but a ceasefire has been in place since July. At this writing the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) due to the conflict stands at 250,000. In addition to poor humanitarian conditions in IDP camps, civil society groups alleged violations of the laws of war and human rights abuses by both sides, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and wanton destruction of houses. On June 30, the 6th Infantry Division spokesman Col. Jonathan Ponce referred to IDPs as "enemy reserve forces."

The military failed to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm during military operations. In mid-July a military raid in Maguindanao province resulted in the death of Halima Bansil, age 11, while asleep in her family home, and the wounding of her father and brother, who were taken into custody.

The army continued to fight Abu Sayyaf, an armed group implicated in numerous attacks and abductions against civilians, particularly in Sulu and Basilan. Abu Sayyaf kidnapped three staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross in January, releasing two in April and the third in July.
Conflict with the New People's Army

Military operations between government forces and the communist New People's Army continue especially in Central and Northern Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Negros, and Southern and Northern Mindanao. Around 1,700 people in Surigao del Sur, Mindanao, were displaced for over two months having fled their homes in June due to fears of being abused by government forces or caught in the fighting after government forces moved into their area.
Women's Rights and Filipino Workers Abroad

On August 14, 2009, President Arroyo signed into law the "Magna Carta for Women," which sets out the state's responsibility to ensure women's equal access to resources and development outcomes. The law includes recognizing all women's rights protected in international treaties ratified by the Philippines, repealing all laws discriminatory to women within three years, achieving 50-50 representation in the third-tier level of government, and increasing the proportion of women in sectors that respond to gender-based violence, such as the police and medico-legal services. It establishes a gender ombudsperson under the CHR.

Approximately two million Filipinos work abroad, including hundreds of thousands of women who work in other parts of Asia and the Middle East as domestic workers. While the Philippine government has made some efforts to support and protect migrant domestic workers, many women continue to experience abuses abroad including unpaid wages, food deprivation, forced confinement in the workplace, and physical and sexual abuse (see also Saudi Arabia and UAE chapters).
Pain Treatment

Tens of thousands of cancer patients and people living with HIV/AIDS in the Philippines suffer from severe pain without access to treatment, due to unnecessarily burdensome narcotics regulations and a poor supply and distribution system for controlled medications. As the government controls the import and supply of all strong pain medications, unreasonably limiting access can lead to violations of the right to the highest attainable standard of health, and can amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Government action to remedy this situation has been insufficient to date.
Key International Actors

The United States is the most influential ally and, together with Australia and Japan, one of the three largest bilateral donors to the Philippines. In July President Arroyo met US President Barack Obama to discuss closer military and counterterrorism cooperation. In November US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Philippines, but neither she nor Obama pressed Arroyo to address continuing impunity for extrajudicial killings. The US military has access to Philippine lands and seas under a Visiting Forces Agreement, and the two militaries hold annual joint exercises. In fiscal year 2008-09 the US government authorized US$30 million to be provided to the Philippines under Foreign Military Financing for procurement of military equipment and US$1.7 million in the International Military Exchange Training program, under which military officers are trained in the United States. Of this, US$2 million is contingent on the Philippine government showing progress in addressing human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings.

Australia is similarly developing closer military-military ties, having signed a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement on May 31, 2007; this agreement remains before the Philippine Congress awaiting passage.

In October 2009 the European Union announced a €3.9 million program to address extrajudicial killings and strengthen the criminal justice system by providing training and technical assistance in 2009-11.

In its May 14, 2009 concluding comments, the UN Committee against Torture expressed deep concerns about allegations of routine and widespread torture of suspects in police custody, failures to investigate and prosecute such allegations, and a "climate of impunity." On October 2 the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Philippines to take "all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings of children and to thoroughly investigate all alleged cases of killings and bring the perpetrators to justice," following its September review of the Philippines' compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Within a month of the April release of the report by UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston, President Arroyo abolished the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group by Executive Order 808, implementing one of Alston's recommendations: Alston had said that the Group used prosecutions to dismantle civil society organizations and political groups that the government believes to be communist fronts.

In September the International Labour Organization conducted a high-level mission to the Philippines in response to a complaint by the trade union Kilusang Mayo Uno, alleging killings, grave threats, harassment, and other forms of violence against members of workers' organizations.


Final and infallible: midnight appointments.

Final and infallible

Why You Should Do Pro Bono Work - Work-Life Balance - Greedy Associates

Why You Should Do Pro Bono Work - Work-Life Balance - Greedy Associates

Attract perfect clients


Are you attracting the type of clients you want?

Or better yet, do you believe attracting such clients requires a five-figure marketing budget and an enormous time commitment that you simply cannot afford spare?

Well I am about to share with you a foolproof, 5 step system that will have you attracting your ‘perfect clients’ in no time.

And kiss goodbye the false belief that you need a massive marketing budget to make it all happen either, because you can do everything on this list without spending a dime.

Sound enticing? Here are the steps.

Step 1: Identify the problem you love to solve, tirelessly, even without pay

The day you recognize what you love to do as it relates to the practice of law, you will have recognized your purpose in life and retirement will be an obsolete concept. Furthermore, the day you commit yourself to aligning your income streams with that thing you love will be the day you “retire” no matter if you are 65 or 25.

In my case, I will be helping people share their creativity with the world through entrepreneurism until the day I die. I cannot NOT help those people. What could you do until the day you die, happily, and for free if push came to shove?

Step 2: Create a product or service offering to solve that problem

You have to “package” your passion into something people can repay you for. Notice I did not say “pay you for”, I said “repay” you for. You MUST provide value first. This may even require you putting your product or service out there for free initially (see the next step) and shifting the risk from the client to you, the service provider up front.

If you have a service offering, do your absolute best to steer clear of hourly billing. Hourly fees are lose-lose, as you only end up trading your life for a few bucks. It is a bad, outdated, shortsighted metric of value. If you can build in some continuity, such as a monthly flat fee for your services that lasts for a year, then do it. Trade a long-term relationship for a higher project fee every time you can.

If you have a product offering, price it to move, but at a profit. The key to success is to make a lot of people a little happier, at a profit each time. Again, if you can build in some continuity, do it.

Step 3: Convey value to your ‘perfect clients’ free via your blog

First, let me start by saying that there is no excuse for not having a blog. None. You can have one set up for free inside of 10 minutes. Just go to If you have 20 minutes, you can get your own domain name and have a wordpress blog set up in your own name or brand, like , or . It does not take a technical genius, it only takes a bit of passion for your message (which should not be a problem if you took step one seriously).

Once you get your blog rolling, sit down and imagine the perfect client sitting across from you in your plush office. What questions do they ask? That’s a blog post. What do they fear? Each of those fears is a blog post. What gets them jazzed? Each spark of enthusiasm is a blog post. What just made YOU happy about the progress toward solving the problem from step 1? Blog post.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Remember, your perfect clients are frantically searching Google for answers because they are afraid of wasting money on a lawyer who cannot help them. At this stage of the game, what is valuable to your ‘perfect clients’ is good, quality, content that demonstrates you understand their problem and you have the ability to help them fix it.

And I am not talking about offering prospective clients dry, legalese-heavy posts littered with footnotes and case citations either.

Instead, use your blog to have a straight-forward conversation, as though you were engaging someone during a consultation. Then once you finish providing this information of value, use your site to share how people can REPAY you for providing such valuable content by hiring you for your services or purchasing your products – maybe even both – as we will discuss in step 5.
Step 4: Let people know where they can find what you’ve posted on your blog

This is where social media comes in. You know, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and if you are a video-savvy person, YouTube. These are speed-networking-on-crack and blow the roof off of conventional media outlets. Sure, you will want to submit your great articles to major publications, but get the quick stuff out quickly – via your social media networks. Provide value and share the value. Your blog is the hub. Media outlets are the spokes. Almost all of the good ones are free. Again, no excuses.

Step 5: Allow people to hire you to help them solve their problem

If you have thoughtfully, sincerely, and regularly completed steps 1-4, your perfect clients will find you. They will ask for your products and services. You just need to give them a clear avenue to do so. Too many people say “I am just doing this for fun” and fail to create an income stream from their passion or hobby that will allow them to escape the day job and “retire” doing what they love.

But if you take just these few steps and practice them regularly, the income streams will appear and you will be able to focus as much time on them as you want. You will “retire” well before your 60s because what you do for a living will be aligned with ACTUALLY LIVING. What could be better than that?


9 Tips to Landing a Legal Job or Internship - Career Paths - Greedy Associates

9 Tips to Landing a Legal Job or Internship - Career Paths - Greedy Associates

14 Things I Wish I Had Known When Graduating From Law School - Law School - Greedy Associates

14 Things I Wish I Had Known When Graduating From Law School - Law School - Greedy Associates

Amnesty International: Asean 2009 human rights status.

Channel NewsAsia - Limited human rights progress in Asia for 2009 Amnesty -

An open letter to Noynoy - HINDSIGHT By F Sionil Jose | The Philippine Star Lifestyle Features Sunday Life

An open letter to Noynoy - HINDSIGHT By F Sionil Jose | The Philippine Star Lifestyle Features Sunday Life

IBON Foundation on land reform

IBON Foundation | Features

Philippines Under New Gov’t: Is There Hope for our Backward Economy - Bulatlat

Philippines Under New Gov’t: Is There Hope for our Backward Economy - Bulatlat

Chief Justice Corona’s appointment -, Philippine News for Filipinos

Chief Justice Corona’s appointment -, Philippine News for Filipinos

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shameful rush of the appointment


That is the adjective the Philippine mass media use to describe Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s midnight and unconstitutional appointment of her former chief of staff, spokesman and lawyer as the next chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, effective today.

The credibility of the Supreme Court as an institution is at its lowest ebb at this time all because of the wrong (stupid is the better word) decisions it has recently made on controversial cases involving the vested political interests of the president and because of its weak vertebra and lack of an independent mind as a collegial body.

The recent editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer reflects the general attitude of the Filipinos on the matter.

True to form, Pres. Arroyo ignores the will and the voice of the people (the very same sovereign people she had fooled in 2001 during Edsa II to enable her to assume power in the Palace).

Political survival is her topmost priority -- damned be the future of the country, damned be the rule of law, damned be the fate of the justice system, and damned be the self-dignity of the Filipinos as a nation.


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:21:00 05/14/2010

THE NEWLY PROCLAIMED REPRESENTATIVE OF the second district of Pampanga, President Macapagal-Arroyo, has an urgent message for the nation: “Don’t get too excited over the election results; with me, it’s still politics as usual.” A mere two days after the country’s first, and generally successful, nationwide automated elections, and only five days before Chief Justice Reynato Puno retires from the Supreme Court, she created a new position: that of Chief-Justice-in-waiting. The timing, and the choice of her former aide, Justice Renato Corona, tell us the appointment was yet one more political act of the most politically partisan president since 1986.

We do not question Corona’s credentials, and do not think his record of voting with the administration position on crucial issues like the threshold Romulo Neri executive privilege case necessarily disqualifies him from the position of chief justice. (To insist on a record of voting against the administration position would be a form of partisanship in itself. Independence is the crucial thing.) We do, however, question Corona’s position, and those of the majority of the justices, that President Arroyo can name the next chief justice despite the clear constitutional ban, supported by the record of deliberations in the Constitutional Commission itself, on midnight appointments.

We question the Court’s deliberate misreading of the Constitution, and its upending of the traditional rules of statutory construction, that allowed it to decide that the appointments ban did not apply to the judiciary. We realize the basic truth of the lawyer’s dictum that the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is. But we also recognize that, like King Canute, the Court’s kingly prerogative cannot run counter to the natural laws. It cannot dictate that water must rise above its source, or that its interpretation of two key provisions must be favored over the actual, demonstrated intent of the Constitution’s framers.

Above all, we question President Arroyo’s insistence that making the appointment, even at this time, is in the national interest. It isn’t. The Constitution itself allows a hiatus in appointments; the Court can continue to function, and function well, with only an acting chief justice; the country can wait for the next chief justice to be appointed, as is both prudent and proper, by the next president.

Rushing the appointment, therefore, only means that political considerations are at stake. Either President Arroyo wants to complete her transformation of the highest tribunal into an Arroyo Court, favorably disposed to her in the many cases she will inevitably face after she leaves Malacañang, or she has already horse-traded the position to Corona, once her chief of staff, spokesman, and legal counsel. Either way, it is a shameful fiat, and disastrous for the Court.

Again, this is not to say that Corona cannot or ought not to be chief justice, only that he cannot and ought not to be chief justice under these circumstances.

Sen. Benigno Aquino III, the apparent victor of Monday’s polls, has called on the President to reconsider the appointment. (We think he should follow this up by putting the appeal in writing.) This may prove a useful tack, if President Arroyo listens.

If she continues to insist that she can and should appoint the next chief justice, however, perhaps the following compromise may be in order: Recall the appointment, return the short list of nominees to the Judicial and Bar Council, ask immediately for a new list, then appoint Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales. With only a year left before her retirement, Justice Carpio-Morales may offer the best hope of defusing a looming struggle between the Court and the incoming president. Her appointment will allow Corona and the other justices to “live down” the accusations of Arroyo bias, and give the next president a free hand to choose her successor.

At the same time, by appointing Carpio-Morales, Ms Arroyo will be able to maintain her stance that the appointment of an immediate replacement for Puno is necessary—and create a new title that the public will surely welcome: the first female chief justice in history.

Otherwise, everything is just politics as usual. Par for the crooked course.


Judicial quarantine
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:53:00 05/15/2010

WHILE IT WILL REQUIRE A CONGRESSIONAL resolution for the country to start referring to Sen. Benigno Aquino III as the president-elect, the country as a whole has accepted that he has been conferred the most remarkable mandate since the present Constitution’s ratification in 1987. The conferment of this mandate was such a long-anticipated event that when it became clear the people had spoken, it sparked an epidemic of statesmanship among many (though not all) of Aquino’s major opponents in the presidential race.

Instead of allowing the country to savor the end of the long crisis of legitimacy that began—and deepened— from 2001-2005, the present administration chose to pursue its strategy of manufacturing crises so as to maximize its opportunities for aggrandizing power. The latest manifestation of this pathological approach to political power is President Macapagal-Arroyo’s maneuvering to appoint the next chief justice.

We should never forget that “disempowering” the president from making appointments on the eve of elections, and from election day until he or she turns over the reins of government to a duly-elected successor, is a sensible democratic principle. We should never forget that it is a principle that has been supported for close to two generations—both by jurisprudence and by the intent of the framers of the present Constitution. It is a principle of democratic self-control and executive responsibility—a legacy of the President’s own father, and respected on the whole by every successor of Diosdado Macapagal until his own daughter reached the terminal stage of her own presidency. And we should never forget that the only reason this wholesome and responsible principle has been abandoned is that President Arroyo had wanted it changed and found obliging accomplices.

Thus, during the campaign, when Senator Aquino drew a line in the sand, saying he would not recognize any chief justice appointed by Ms Arroyo, the Palace seized on it to accuse him of recklessness and contempt for the law. A smokescreen to disguise its own relentless assault on well-established ethical and legal principles. In a similar vein, media and the political class knew the administration was viewing the anticipated results of the 2010 elections with dread. Informed circles weren’t surprised when it made a last-minute gambit to postpone the elections; and in the context of this scheme of the administration, Aquino’s warning that the public wouldn’t tolerate postponing the elections was both timely and necessary. As Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, initially (and naively) critical of the warning, belatedly realized.

Recklessness and irresponsibility, therefore, are characteristics of the administration and its Constitution-related experiments. Aquino has properly refused to concede logic or legitimacy to the administration’s efforts. He has properly called attention to the reality that the President’s experimentation would have failed if she hadn’t found willing accomplices, including Associate Justice Renato Corona who shows every sign of being eager to grab the poisoned chalice of a controversial chief magistracy offered by the President.

It is a chalice a former chief justice, Manuel Moran, viewed as simply unethical to accept as far back as 1953. It is a cup that—Corona must be made to recognize—will contain, if not legal, then certainly, ethical hemlock as far as his standing before the next president and the country is concerned. When Aquino said he would prefer to take his oath of office before a humble barangay official, he was anticipating the contents of the oath to be administered on June 30: to uphold both the spirit and letter of the Constitution and to do justice to every man.

Corona must be quarantined until our institutions resolve his legitimacy. What Ms Arroyo and Justice Corona are expecting the country to do is to surrender to tradition when it is tradition—and the law—that they have both flouted. Aquino need not dignify this travesty by extending any kind of official courtesy.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Arroyo Court is born. My worst nightmare is here.

More on midnight appointments to the judiciary.

My worst nightmare as a member of the Bar, as a former law professor and as a local Bar leader has come!

Pres. Gloria Arroyo, a nonlawyer whose brain is programmed to do nothing else but to accumulate and perpetuate power and to insure her family dynasty’s political survival, has appointed her former senate chief of staff and Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona as the new Chief Justice of the Philippines in replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno who retires on May 14, 2010.

The dreaded Arroyo Court is now finally and fully born and delivered! (Akin to a forced and traumatic caesarian section of the Philippine judiciary by an impostor ob-gyne).

If Arroyo thinks this is the end of the game and that she has won it, she better think twice.

The new president, Noynoy Aquino and the entire Filipino nation will not allow her to continue to prostitute, abuse, rape, intimidate, bribe and insult the Philippine justice system as what she has been doing since that great historical error and abnormality called Edsa II on the basis of which she craved for and assumed presidential power and insanely arrogated unto herself the status of a great deity in Philippine politics.

Read the latest news on the matter below.

Arroyo appoints Corona as new chief justice
By Tetch Torres, TJ Burgonio, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:34:00 05/12/2010

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo named Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona to replace Chief Justice Reynato Puno when he retires on May 17, Malacañang announced Wednesday.
“The President has chosen Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona to be the next Chief Justice when incumbent Reynato Puno retires on May 17,” the Palace said in a statement.

Malacañang said Corona was the “most senior'' Supreme Court justice among the four nominees of the Judicial and Bar Council.

"Considering that he has been nominated by the JBC, he happens to be the most senior. And nobody I think can question this announcement and his eventual appointment,'' Raul Victorino, chief presidential legal counsel, said of Corona’s appointment at a Malacañang news briefing.

The JBC submitted four nominees, including Corona, on May 5 after the high tribunal ruled that Ms Arroyo could appoint Puno's successor even during an election period or as the end of her drew near – a matter that stirred furious debate for weeks.

The other nominees were Supreme Court Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Arturo Brion, and Sandiganbayan Acting Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval.

The JBC excluded Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales – who stood their ground that Ms Arroyo was barred by the Constitution from making such an appointment, and expressed no interest in the post under those circumstances.

Malacañang vouched for the qualifications and integrity of Corona to lead the high court, and scoffed at claims he was beholden to Ms Arroyo.

Malacañang vouched for the qualifications and integrity of Corona to lead the high court, and scoffed at claims he was beholden to Ms Arroyo.

"There were many considerations. He's the most senior among recommendees. He worked under many administrations, but he had been at SC for quite some time. He has all the qualifications,'' Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said in the briefing.

Contrary to perception, Ms Arroyo's appointees to the high tribunal even disagreed with the positions taken by the solicitor general in landmark cases, he said.

Victorino agreed: "If we say he's beholden to the sitting President, my question is: How can he be beholden when GMA is no longer the President on June 30?''

He advised critics questioning the eventual appointment of Corona as chief justice to go to the courts.

"A rejection of his appointment is a rejection of the Supreme Court,'' he said.

Corona was appointed associate justice by Arroyo on April 9, 2002. He graduated law from the Ateneo Law School in 1974. While studying, he also worked full time in the Office of the Executive Secretary. He ranked 25th in the 1974 Bar exams out of 1,965 candidates.

After law school, Corona studied Master of Business Administration at the Ateneo Professional Schools and in 1981, he was accepted to the Master of Laws program in Harvard Law School, where he focused on foreign investment policies and the regulation of corporate and financial institutions.

In 1992, he joined President Fidel Ramos as assistant executive secretary for legal affairs. Two years later, he was promoted deputy executive secretary and eventually became the presidential legal counsel.

After Ramos, he was invited by then Vice President Arroyo to become her chief of staff and spokesman. When she assumed the presidency in 2001, he became the presidential chief of staff, spokesman, and later as acting executive secretary.

He became a faculty of Ateneo Law School, teaching Commercial law, Taxation and Corporation law.

He was born on Oct. 15, 1948 in Tanauan City, Batangas. He is married to former Cristina Roco and they have three children.

Corona appointment as Puno’s successor slammed
By Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 18:38:00 05/12/2010

MANILA, Philippines—By appointing Justice Renato Corona as Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s successor when he retires from the Supreme Court on May 17, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is providing a "casus belli” for Senator Benigno "Noynoy” Aquino III, who only needs an official proclamation by Congress as the country’s next President, an opposition senator said Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. recalled on Wednesday that Aquino has said he would not honor any midnight appointments to be made by Arroyo before her term ends on June 30.

And by announcing her choice of Renato Corona as the next chief justice, Pimentel said, Arroyo "in effect is daring Aquino to do what he said he would do.”

"She is providing a casus belli for Aquino,” he said in a phone interview.

Pimentel said Arroyo's appointment of the next chief justice "adds confusion and anxiety” which he stressed was something "we don't need now, especially after the generally peaceful and orderly automated elections.”

Pimentel joined Senator Francis Pangilinan and former Senate President Franklin Drilon in slamming Arroyo's naming of Puno’s successor which they all said she should have left to the incoming president.

Both Pimentel and Drilon made it clear that their objection was not over the qualifications of Corona but the outgoing President’s insistence on making the appointment.

Pimentel said there was still no vacancy because Chief Justice Reynato Puno was set to retire on May 17 and thus, the President should have “not anticipate” the vacancy.
“Therefore, prudence should have dictated the choice of the new CJ should be left to the incoming President,” Pimentel said.

Both Drilon and Pangilinan agreed that Arroyo should have not made the appointment "out of delicadeza” and "out of respect” for her successor.

Drilon said while he did not agree—although he respected it—with the Supreme Court ruling allowing the President to appoint a replacement for Puno, Arroyo should have not exercised such prerogative.

“The most ideal (move) would be to allow Senator Noynoy to appoint the CJ,” Drilon said in a phone interview.

In a text message, Pangilinan said that Arroyo should have not made the appointment considering that she had only six weeks to go before stepping down from power and new President would have been elected by the time Puno retires on May 17.

"Ms Arroyo should have, out of delicadeza, allowed the next President to make the appointment. Sadly, it appears there is no such thing as a sense of propriety when it comes to her political survival,” Pangilinan said.