Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan 2016 Unity Statement

Election2016 December 11, 2015 11:15 AM

Bantay Karapatan_v1d5



Statement of Unity
Intramuros, Manila | 10 December 2015

On the 9th of May 2016, more than fifty (50) million of us will again troop to the polling stations to renew our faith in social change via the ballot box—with many of us casting our votes that aim to embody our deepest aspirations for our beloved Philippines, the country of our fervent dreams and also oftentimes our deepest sorrows.

Philippine elections have never been a perfect process, with fraud, vote-buying, and violence a constant threat, and poverty continuing to undermine at times our people’s freedom to choose. But our people—resolute, resilient, and always respectful of democratic exercises—have marshaled on despite the odds, and Filipinos continue to remain protective of the electoral process, even as we seek to continue to modernize and democratize it. In this effort, we salute the millions of volunteers who have collectively spilled sweat, tears and blood to make our elections as free and fair as possible, and will continue to do so in 2016.

However, we are still faced with the ultimate irony of Philippine democracy: in a period where we are most attuned to the exercise of our individual and collective rights as citizens, particularly our right to suffrage, it is during election period that many of our basic human rights have been historically violated.


Human Rights at the Core of Democratic Elections

We come together today—civil society organizations who have a common stake in human rights, elections, and democracy—to assert that HUMAN RIGHTS are at the core of democratic elections and therefor MUST BE FRONT AND CENTER of these elections.

  1. We reject the fact that the use of violence and intimidation, deception and fraud, must be part and parcel of Philippine elections and this must be closely monitored, with the end in view of exacting accountability for actions of this nature.
  2. We assert that the right to genuine democratic elections is precisely about human rights; Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ensures this. Many other rights and freedoms are also immediately apparent in an electoral context:
  • the right to vote, to be elected, and to participate in public affairs;
  • freedom from discrimination and equality before the law;
  • equality between men and women;
  • the right to a fair and public hearing and effective remedy;

And for elections to be genuinely free and fair, a bundle of recognized associated rights must also be respected, and violations of these have been traditionally seen in Philippine elections:

  • Rights of association, peacful assembly, and mobility/movement;
  • Freedoms of opinion and expression;
  • Trasparency of and access to information;
  • Right to security.
  1. We believe that when we uphold these and any other allied rights, the integrity of the electoral process is enhanced; when this bundle of rights and freedoms are respected, the basic human dignity—both of the electors, as well as those who would be elected—is upheld.
  1. The outcome of an exercise conducted in an atmosphere of respect of these liberties will help protect and broaden the democratic space that we continue to enjoy.  Rejecting violence, intimidation, fraud and deception will help us turn back the debilitating culture of impunity that threatens the very fabric of Philippine society.

Only when each citizen has this bundle of rights and freedoms can genuinely democratic elections occur.  Only in an atmosphere of respect of these liberties can an election truly reflect the will of the people.

Therefore, today—International Human Rights Day, we commit to take direct action to ensure the above principles, values and beliefs, through BANTAY KARAPATAN SA HALALAN 2016.

Our broad objectives are:

  1. To embed a human rights framework in the 2016 National and Local Elections (and beyond).
  2. To provide a national platform for unified human rights monitoring and reporting by citizens during the 2016 Elections; and

To prepare and provide evidence-based data to the public and to the appropriate state agencies to promote access to justice of victims of human rights violations, and exact accountability from perpetrators of these.

Towards this, we will engage in the following main activities:

  1. We will network, reach out and partner with any and all election stakeholders in pursuit of the above, reaching out in particular to many of the civil society, academic, media, NGO and volunteer groups already committed to defending the electoral process.
  1. We will develop and share via different platforms available to us Human Rights-based educational curricula, modules, and materials for the widest distribution and use. We will particularly employ mobile telephony and the internet to reach the widest number.
  1. We will set up organizational systems and technical platforms that will utilize all possible traditional and emerging information and communciations technologies (including social media), to facilitate the efficient data-gathering, reporting and validation of human rights violations;
  1. We will assiduously inform the public of the results of our efforts, so that we contribute to making the 2016 electoral process more safe, honest, orderly, and peaceful, under a climate of Human Rights promotion and protection.
  1. We will endorse any and all evidence-based data on human rights violations to the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on Elections, and other appropriate law enforcement agencies for proper processing and action.

In this effort we acknowledge and express our deepest appreciation and respect to the 5th Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), which has served to nurture this effort by its wholehearted inspiration, guidance and support. We welcome the CHRP as a direct partner in this initiative, as the primary duty-bearer for human rights promotion and protection in the country.

We call on all Filipinos to join us in this endeavor. To make our elections free, fair and more democratic, we truly believe that every voter must be a human rights monitor, every citizen a human rights defender.

Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

Initial convenors and signatories:

Ateneo Human Rights Center   LIBERTAS
Association of Major Relegious Superiors in the Philippines   Purple Action for Indigenous Women
Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines   Lasallian Justice and Peace Commission
Bantay Bayanihan   Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement
Claimants 1081   National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action   Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
Christian Convergence for Good Governance   Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy
Commission on Human Rights    Philippine Federation of the Deaf
The Center for Migrants Advocacy – Philippines   Philippine Network Foundation
Caucus of Development NGO Networks   Philippine Miserior Partnership Incorporated
DAKILA   Radyo Veritas 846
Foundation for Media Alternatives   Student Catholic Action of the Philippines
Integrated Bar of the Philippines   Security Reform Initiative
Institute for Political and Electoral Reform   Task Force 2016
Legal Network for Truthful Elections   Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
    Youth for Rights

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