New project on human rights

The Visayas Primary Healthcare Services, Inc. has started to implement a new project with the support of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

The project, “Defending human rights, promoting justice, and preserving life in northern Cebu, Philippines” aims to respond to the urgent need to equip poor people with the knowledge and the capacity to identify human rights violations committed by public officers, persons in authority or their agents, military, police, paramilitary forces and their agents, to know how to investigate and document human rights violations cases, and to respond collectively through their people’s organizations to human rights violations.

The project shall be implemented in the following areas, namely: Barangays Patao, Lipayran, and Kampinganonin the Municipality of Bantayan, and Barangay San Agustin in the Municipality of Madridejos. The four communities shall be trained to have the capacities to respond to human rights violations, defend human rights, and promote justice.

These are areas in northern Cebu which were affected by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 and were beneficiaries of the two previous projects of the VPHCS supported by UUSC.

The following are the populations of the barangays, Patao, 5,475; Lipayran, 3,067; Kampinganon, 1,007; and San Agustin, 3,067.

The first activity shall be a three- day training for VPHCS staff and volunteers on the following topics, namely: a. Bill of Rights in the Philippine Constitution; b. arrests, detention and extrajudicial killings; c. investigation and documentation of human rights violations, making fact sheets and affidavits; and d. presentation of the cases of human rights violations to human rights groups in government and non-government sectors for resolution.

After the training, the VPHCS staff shall then give a similar three-day training for 20 leaders of people’s organizations, community health workers and members of disaster preparedness committees on the same topics for the four communities.

After each training, there shall be a public gathering in each of the four communities where at least 50 residents per gathering will discuss openly about the effects of the government’s anti-drug campaign on their lives and the trained leaders will point out human rights violations committed and the gathering shall map out what they shall do in response. The families of victims of human rights violations will be assisted by the concerned residents in seeking help from human rights groups to seek for justice.

It is hoped that as a result of the project, cases of human rights violations will be investigated and documented, and brought to the government and non-government agencies for action. Residents will openly protest against human rights violations and participate with their people’s organizations in having these violations investigated, documented and brought to the proper agencies for resolution. Justice will be served and perpetrators of human rights violations will be punished.

The project starts on December 1, 2016 and shall be implemented in six months.