What is advocacy work?
As non-governmental organizations, we represent the interests of those affected by human rights violations in the Philippines vis-à-vis the human rights committees and bodies of international cooperation of the German government and international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations.
We share statements with relevant agencies and instiutions at strategically opportune times and brief political decision-makers and multipliers in a manner appropriate to the target group. Moreover, we network with Philippine and international partners in order to organize joint side events during the sessions of the human rights bodies of the EU and the UN, among others.
Human Rights in the Philippines
By signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and ratifying various UN human rights treaties, the Philippines has committed itself to protecting, respecting and guaranteeing human rights. Implementation is anchored in the Philippine constitution of 1987 and other agreements (such as the Bill of Rights) and institutions (such as the Philippine Human Rights Commission – CHR). Of the nine most important UN human rights agreements, the Philippines has ratified eight, including the UN Social Pact and the UN Civil Pact. The UN Convention against Disappearances has not yet been signed or ratified by the Philippines. Nonetheless, the number of human rights violations reported and experienced by Philippine partner organizations has been increasing steadily since 2001.
Under the former government of President Rodrigo Duterte (2016-2022), new forms of human rights violations related to the so-called “war on drugs” ocurred. Extrajudicial killings were utilized on a large scale to combat drug-related crime. According to estimates by the CHR and various human rights groups, Duterte’s anti-drug campaign claimed more than 27,000 lives. Most of the victims were from the economically poorer population strata. So far, there has been no progress with regards to the judicial processing of these murders. Only in the case of the murder of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos were the perpetrators convicted in 2018.
Not only the lack of thorough and impartial investigations, but also Duterte’s anti-human rights and violence-glorifying rhetoric fostered widespread impunity in the country.
During Duterte’s six years in office, there have been disappearances and increased cases of arbitrary arrest, intimidation, and repressions of civil society, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, journalists, and members of the political opposition. The Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), passed in July 2020, has become a common tool to intimidate and silence government critics due to its vague and broad definition of terrorism. The controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in particular has increasingly used the ATA to denounce human rights defenders. The NTF-ELCAC was created as the central implementing body of Duterte’s whole-of-nation approach to end the communist insurgency under Executive Order 70 (EO70).
On June 30, 2022, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son of former dictator Marcos, assumed the presidency after a clear electoral victory. Sara Duterte-Carpio, the former president’s daughter, became vice president. Marcos initially declared his government’s commitment to human rights to the UN and welcomed opportunities to cooperate with the UN on improving the human rights situation in the Philippines. So far, however, clear progress and drastic reforms remain elusive. Duterte’s repressive policies continue under Marcos.
In November 2022, the Marcos government adopted a new government program (“Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayaw”/Take care of life, Don’t want drugs) to combat illegal drugs. The program’s primary goal is to reduce the demand for drugs. However, independent documentation clearly shows that extrajudicial killings continue to take place in the context of the anti-drug campaign.
Documentation of individual cases
The AMP documents and accompanies individual cases of political murders as well as criminalizations and disappearances of human rights defenders and journalists, which illustrate the methodology of structural human rights violations. A list of all cases of political killings of human rights defenders and journalists appears in the AMP Human Rights Report.
The AMP uses the lobbying instruments of civil society to influence decision-makers and multipliers in Germany as well as at the EU and the UN levels with the aim of contributing to an improvement of the human rights situation in the Philippines. This way we are making our concerns and those of our Philippine partners heard on the international stage.
International lobbying for the Philippines is becoming more important as we have been observing constantly shrinking civic spaces in the Philippines.
AMP lobbying activities include the following mechanisms:
German government level: Aide-Mémoire for the German Human Rights Forum (Menschenrechtsforum), AMP Human Rights Report, IAN Report, Parliamentary Technical Discussions.
Download (PDF): AMP report: human rights in the Philippines 2022
Download (PDF): Aide Mémoire – Philippines 2022 (German)
EU-Level: Joint Letters
Download (PDF): Joint Letter on GSP+ for Philippines 2018
UN level: Civil society shadow report on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, side events at UN Human Rights Council sessions