Contact Details

Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 2 931 5497, +63 2 931 5001 local 7370

Human rights defenders (HRDs) will be assured of government protection with the approval by the House Committee on Human Rights of a substitute bill adopting House Bill No. 77 authored by Rep. Edcel. C. Lagman.

The bill provides for rights and guarantees to fully safeguard the efforts and activities of HRDs in promoting, protecting, and fulfilling human rights.

The Committee on Human Rights is chaired by Rep. Bienvenido Abante, who said that he is a human rights defender, while the technical working group which submitted the substitute bill was headed by Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong.

The other HRD protection bill authors are Makabayan bloc Reps. Raoul Manuel, France Castro, and Arlene Brosas.

The substitute bill is largely based on the Model Law for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders with respect to the rights of HRDs and the corresponding duties and obligations of the State and public authorities.

This Model Law is endorsed by 28 high-level experts. It was developed by the International Service for Human Rights over a three year period informed by the following key inputs:

  1. Comparative legal research identifying both good practices and restrictive practices in the recognition and protection of defenders covering almost 40 national jurisdictions from all regions;

  2. Face-to-face consultations with over 500 human rights defenders from more than 110 States from all regions, sub-regions and legal traditions;

  3. A monitoring mission and comparative literature review; and

  4. Extensive engagement with high-level human rights experts and jurists in drafting the model law, including a two-day meeting to finalize the draft.

According to Lagman, the emergence of HRDs is both an indictment and a symptom of the failure and neglect of the government to fully protect, promote, and fulfill human rights. HRDs are surrogate defenders due to government’s default in its primary obligation as the official protector of human rights.

“The tragic plight of Filipino HRDs as a result of the relentless persecution against them by the government shamefully aggravates the State’s culpable non-compliance with the constitutional mandate that the ‘State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights’ ”, Lagman added.

Among the HRD rights and freedoms this bill seeks to respect, protect and promote are the:

  • Right to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms;

  • Right to form groups, associations and organizations;

  • Right to peaceful assembly;

  • Right to seek, receive and disseminate information;

  • Right to privacy;

  • Right to develop and advocate human rights ideas;

  • Right to solicit, receive and utilize resources;

  • Right to access, communicate and cooperate with international and regional human rights bodies and mechanisms;

  • Right to effective remedy and full reparation;

  • Freedom from intimidation and reprisal; and

  • Freedom of movement.

HRDs’ work embraces the gamut of human rights advocacy: articulation of human rights from civil liberties to health, economic, and cultural rights; training and education; formation of associations; peaceable assembly; monitoring of violations; demands for investigation and accountability; ending impunity; counseling and lawyering; lobbying for protective legislation; coordinating with kindred domestic and international groups; and supporting human rights-based governance and policy.

Previous HRD protection bills had been approved on third and final reading in both the 17th and 18th Congresses and endorsed by Members of the European Parliament, the International Service for Human Rights, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights defenders, among others.