January 21, 2011
German Human Rights Commissioner Supports Philippines
Human Rights Efforts
The Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid
of the Federal Republic of Germany Markus Loening announced that
“Germany will be at your side” when he visited the
Philippines on January 21-24, 2011.
Commissioner Loening acknowledged the strong political
commitment to the human rights efforts of the
Aquino Administration. “We see that the new government
is serious about human rights. We consider the Philippines a champion
of human rights, and Germany will always be willing to work closely
with countries such as yours that have their own impulse to reform
their human rights situation,” said Commissioner Loening.
He noted that the Philippines played an important role
in the discussion of human rights trafficking
in Geneva, and that it is a leader in the Association of South
East Asian Nations (ASEAN). He mentioned that the Philippines
and Germany share the same set of values where he cited death
penalty as an example of the similar “fight” the two
countries confront with.
Commissioner Loening was also a speaker at a forum organized
by the Ateneo Human Rights Center
(AHRC) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF)
on 21 January 2011 where “Human Rights and Freedom of Expression
in a Globalized World” was discussed. He recognized the
Philippines as a defender of freedom of speech. “Keep the
flag up. Show that a society can develop with people speaking
their mind,” he encouraged.
Commission on Human Rights
FNF Philippines Country Director Jules Maaten, Philippine
Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales and German
Commissioner for Human Rights Policy Markus Loening
(CHR) Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales, who was also present at the
forum, expressed optimistism on the human rights situation in the
country. She articulated the strategic plan of the commission
“We hope to revitalize and strengthen
core mandate of the institution by building infrastructures to develop
CHR to become an effective and comprehensive monitor,” she
In addition to becoming a comprehensive monitor, she confidently
said that President Aquino made the passage of the Charter that
aims to enhance the prosecutorial role of CHR, a priority bill.
If passed, the commission will have a Residual Prosecutorial
Powers — assuming prosecutorial powers if the Department
of Justice fails to solve cases within three months. Though still
debatable, this will give the commission enough “teeth”
in solving human rights issues in the country.
AHRC Executive Director Atty. Carlos Medina emphasized the need
to maximize the exercise of freedom of speech.
“Free speech gives a sense of human dignity. It has a social
impact especially when we use it to participate in political exercise.
It will make the government more responsive, responsible, and
accountable. We are even more fortunate now because we have a
government that listens.” He challenged everyone
to join CHR in its efforts to become an effective and comprehensive
monitor. “A multi-sectoral approach is important to address
human rights violations,” he stressed.
Atty. Medina also thanked FNF which, he said, has become the channel
for Germany’s support to human rights efforts in the country
and in the ASEAN through AHRC and the Working
Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism
Mr. Jules Maaten, FNF Country Director, is proud to have hosted
the dialogue between Commissioner Loening and CHR Chair Rosales.
“I am happy that Markus Loening visited the Philippines.
He is a liberal who is eager to stick out his neck for human rights
for Germany and abroad,” said Mr. Maaten.
FNF is a German liberal foundation. It works with organizations
such as AHRC to further liberal principles such as participatory
democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and market economy.
It is celebrating its 25th anniversary in the Philippines this