November 24, 2010
IAF Replication Seminar on Human
Rights: Civil and Political Rights
Every year, FNF Philippines replicates a program of the International
Academy for Leadership
(IAF). IAF is the training institute
of FNF in Germany. On November 21-24, 2010, a seminar on Civil
and Political Rights
was held in Cebu. In partnership with
the IAF Alumni Group and the University
of San Carlos
(USC) College of Law, a three-day activity was
organized and attended by 30 human rights advocates coming from
different sectors - NGO and civil society workers, law practitioners,
academicians, media and government workers.
The seminar was also supported by the USC Law Alumni Association
and the Human Rights Unlimited.
The seminar sought for the participants to have better
understanding of liberalism
in relation to human rights;
working knowledge of basic human rights concepts; deeper awareness
of significant human rights issues in the Philippines; and proposed
program of action to help strengthen human rights in the Philippines.
In order to have a clear and up to date picture of human rights
in the country, the seminar started with the participants’
assessment of the human rights situation, issues and program of
actions in their respective areas. Even though the participants
had differing ideas on what human rights are, it was presented
at the end of the exercise that fundamental to human rights and
hence should be first addressed are basic services, rule
of law, transparency, awareness and understanding. Coinciding
with its first year anniversary, the Maguindanao Massacre was
discussed too on the state of human rights in the Philippines.
Mr. Jules Maaten, Country director of the FNF Philippine Office,
elaborated on liberalism and its relation to human rights. He discussed
how liberalism originates from protecting the individual against
institutions of power. In political liberalism, individual rights
are put first and not the collective ones. “Liberalism
is a way of life.
You must trust others, be responsible,
be tolerant, be respectful and question authority,” said Mr.
Speaking on rule of law as a foundation of human rights, Atty.
Daryl Bretch Largo of the USC College of Law expounded on the
various technical aspects of law as basis of sound human rights
practice in a democratic country. Atty. Largo pointed out that
“Rule of Law refers to a doctrine or ideology about how
the government should act. Breakdown of it ultimately means no
protection of human rights.”
Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Commissioner
and IAF alumni Atty. Maita Chan-Gonzaga provided an overview of
the different international and regional, mechanisms and systems
that assist countries in addressing human rights protection concerns
The participants deepened their understanding and appreciation
of the subject with group work sessions on case studies on the
different international human rights instruments and visits to
two human rights institutions in Cebu City. The group work sessions
was facilitated by Atty. Myrish Cadapan-Antonio, an IAF Alumna
IAF alumni fellows and main seminar proponents Atty. Mary Catherine
Alvarez and Atty. Myrfi Gonzalez recounted that overall the workshop
was seen as an opportune time for participants to learn more about
liberalism and how it can optimize human rights advocacy; put
forward plans-of-action on several human rights subjects like
human rights education, media advocacy, and developmental legal
assistance; and expand networks of fellow human rights advocates.