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Enact the Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Bill Now!

By signing this petition, we are making a resolute stand for human rights including our right to defend the rights of others! 

To our legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives, we strongly urge you to enact the Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Bill or Senate Bill 1699 and House Bill 1617 which will recognize the rights of HRDs and provide them protection against threats, harassment, violence and other forms of persecution.

The passage of the HRD bill is of utmost concern in the light of the Duterte administration’s consistent vilification of and attacks on human rights activists, individuals and institutions who are at the forefront of championing the Filipino people’s civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  In at least two public occasions, the President threatened to shoot or kill rights advocates if the drug problem worsens[1] and if activists “obstruct justice” by interfering in police investigations.[2]

President Duterte's policies on the war on drugs, war on terror and counter-insurgency program made human rights defenders direct targets of state agents while perpetrators of human rights abuses enjoy cloak of impunity in the present system.

He has also repeatedly and consistently attacked the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the national human rights institution of the Philippines. Under his watch, CHR was also threatened with P1,000 agency budget. 

Thus, the need for a law that would recognize the work and enshrine the rights of HRDs, put in place a protection mechanism and penalize those who would threaten, compromise and violate their security and safety, in accordance with international human rights instruments.

But what is it about human rights that Duterte finds repulsive?

When in fact, human rights are principles and standards recognized by most governments for people across the world to live in dignity.  Simply put, they are our basic entitlements and freedoms such as the right to life, liberty and security of person; including socio-economic rights, such as the right to land and living wages, right to education, right to housing, right to adequate standard of living, right to health and so on. 

While human rights defenders are individuals and groups that act and work to promote or protect human rights – especially of the vulnerable and marginalized, such as the peasants, workers, urban poor communities,  women, LGBTI (lesbians, gays, bi-sexual and trans-gender), children and indigenous communities. HRDs are also watchdogs whose primary role is to  speak out and report whenever they monitor violations of human rights and gaps in the implementation of the Bill of Rights and other pertinent instruments on human and people’s rights.

Dictators obviously abhor human rights.  Clearly, President Duterte’s theatrical but very dangerous attacks against human rights and advocates are part of this administration’s bigger and darker scheme to undermine democracy and impose an authoritarian rule.

Together, let’s make the HRD bill our collective response against threats to our rights and freedoms!  Let us #StandUpforHumanRights! #ProtectHumanRightsDefenders!