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Philippines: DSWD ready to provide more support for drought-hit LGUs

12 April 2016 - 8:12am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

The different Field Offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) nationwide are currently conducting assessment activities at the provincial and municipal levels to determine further additional requirements for food assistance and implementation of Cash-for-Work (CFW) in drought-stricken areas.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman reiterated that the Department has adequate funds to augment the resources of local government units (LGUs) in responding to the needs of affected families.

To date, DSWD has provided a total of P1,270,615,194.13 worth of assistance to 1,172,260 affected families nationwide. The amount includes the cost of food assistance and the implementation of CFW funded under the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Quick Response Funds of the Department for 2015-2016.

Currently, the highest number of beneficiaries came from Region XII and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with 330,060 and 338,314 families, respectively.

World: Regional Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific - Newsletter Issue 1, April 2016

12 April 2016 - 5:21am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, World

Welcome to the First Edition of the Regional Consultative Group (RCG) on Humanitarian CivilMilitary Coordination for Asia and the Pacific Newsletter. This Newsletter will be published every two months to provide an update on the RCG work as well as to inform the UN-CMCoord community about upcoming UN-CMCoord events in the Asia-Pacific region.

For this edition, as chair of the RCG for 2016, the Government of the Philippines would like to share with RCG members the following updates:

  1. Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination Annual Meeting outcomes;

  2. Updates on the implementation of the RCG 2016 Work Plan;

  3. Invitation to RCG members to join the Advisory Group on common humanitarian civil-military coordination standards.

World: Prevention and Treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition in East Asia and the Pacific - Report of a Regional Consultation - Bangkok, Thailand, June 24-26, 2015

11 April 2016 - 11:43pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, World
Executive Summary

Rationale and objectives of the meeting

In the East Asia and the Pacific Region (EAPR), despite economic growth and achievements in health and nutrition indicators, maternal and child undernutrition rates and burden remain extremely high. The annual estimated number of cases of severe wasting in EAPR countries is over six million, but the indirect coverage of the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is less than 2%. Prevention and management of acute malnutrition is therefore a large unfinished agenda in this region.

As part of a broader effort by UNICEF and partners to raise awareness and promote commitment to the issue, the “Regional Consultation on Prevention and Treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition in East Asia and the Pacific” was held in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 24-26, 2015. The meeting was organised by the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO). Participants included government representatives, UNICEF staff from headquarters, regional offices and EAPRO country offices, staff from other United Nations (UN) agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), such as Save the Children, Action Against Hunger (ACF-UK) and Alive & Thrive (Vietnam), Institute de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), academia (University of Louvain) and donors.

The objectives of the consultation were to:

(1) discuss the latest evidence on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive delivery platforms and models for the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition, with a special focus on SAM;

(2) examine the strengths and challenges of the currently implemented approaches in the region, with a focus on SAM management;

(3) identify the importance of acute malnutrition within the larger nutrition operating environment, and the integration into national systems and existing coordination mechanisms at country level.

Philippines: El Niño survivors in the Philippines: rice not bullets

11 April 2016 - 2:48pm
Source: Peace Direct Country: Philippines

April 11 2016: The El Niño drought has left thousands hungry in the Philippines. There have been violent scenes around food distribution but starving people need bullets not rice, says Rey Ty.

North Cotabato in Mindanao, southern Philippines, has been experiencing a devastating drought for six months now, due to the effects of El Niño. This weather phenomenon is affecting 36,000 people and the local government has declared a state of calamity in seven towns and one city in North Cotabato.

On 30 March, 2016, 6,000 peasants and indigenous people, as well as members of cause-oriented groups, first gathered in front of the National Food Authority (NFA) warehouse blocking the Davao-Cotabato highway in Kidapawan City in Cotabato, Mindanao. They organised protest action, asking the government to provide emergency support for the hunger experienced due to effects of El Niño on their agricultural production.

The local government, to which the national government has devolved budget and resource allocation, promised three kilos of rice to each family every four months. The protesters refused the measly offer and were angry at the delayed release of food relief and calamity funds. They demanded a subsidy of 15,000 sacks of rice from the National Food Authority, free distribution of seedlings, an increase in crop prices, and the removal of military forces from their communities.

On the morning of Friday 2 April, 2016, a police officer gave an ultimatum to the protesters, the latter expressing they would rather talk to the governor who was supposed to hold a second round of talks with them.

Pedro Arnado, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Philippine Peasant Movement), Cotabato chapter said: “All we wanted was relief from the drought, especially the rice, and we would peacefully leave but the chief of police insisted that they would disperse us by force if we did not leave.”

The protests: what happened

A few videos online showed the violent dispersal of the protesters. With truncheons and shields, policemen pushed back the protesters who stood firm. By around 11 AM, the barricade was brutally dispersed, shots fired, and protesters scampered for safety.

When the protest line was broken and mayhem ensued, protesters fought back with whatever they could grab, such as stones and sticks. Police fired M1 rifles at them. At least two protesters were killed by the state forces, 116 were injured and 87 protesters were missing. Two police officers with head trauma are in a critical condition and the security forces detained about 78 protesters.

Fearing for their safety and lives, many protesters sought refuge at the local Spottswood Methodist Mission Center, which was surrounded by the state forces. Reporters were barred from entering the church grounds. The church provided sanctuary to the fleeing protesters and served as an evacuation center, to which the state forces laid siege.

As the permit to demonstrate expired Friday morning, the police and the provincial governor justified the violent dispersal in the name of public interest. Provincial Governor Emmylou Mendoza defended the attack on unarmed, hungry people as a “clearing operation” as the permit to assemble expired.

On the morning of Saturday 2 April, 2016, a search warrant was served to church leaders by the police. No weapons were found in the church. Governor Mendoza threatened to sue United Methodist Church Bishop Ciriaco Francisco, writing that harbouring protesters “is punishable by law.” As the majority of the Filipinos are Christian, when the Church sides with the poor and the oppressed, this sends a clear signal that the protesters stand on high moral ground and that the government must favourably respond to their demands.

The local response: civil society condemns the violence

Many civil society organisations, church groups and politicians were shocked at the violence of the dispersal and government defence of the brutal dispersal. For example, in the aftermath of the bloodbath, the Department of Interior and Local Government bestowed medals upon policemen who were involved which many in civil society slammed.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also condemned “police intimidation and attempts to suppress information” by preventing media practitioners from covering the violent dispersal in Kidapawan, during which many journalists were harassed physically.

Similarly, religious institutions came out in support of the protesters. Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Rhee Timbang of Surigao Diocese said: “This is too much an abuse and oppression against our farmers who toil for our foods.” President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said: “May the police and military return to their mandate to preserve peace, protect the weak and serve justice.”

The General Board of Church and Society of the The United Methodist Church (GBCS-TUMC) extended its support for Bishop Ciriaco Francisco of the Davao Episcopal Area and the farmers. A number of other religious institutions called for donations to support those suffering, condemned the violence and stood in solidarity with those protesting.

Perhaps most prominently, New York based Human Rights Watch said: “The government needs to urgently investigate the incident, particularly the conduct of law enforcement personnel that may have led to the bloodshed, and hold accountable anyone found responsible regardless of rank or affiliation.”

The political response: a violation of rights

Whilst the Philippine government came under fire for the violent dispersal, those speaking on behalf of the Malacañang Presidential Palace were defensive, calling for people not to “rush into judgment,” and claiming that the issue is highlighted to affect the results of the presidential elections. If the government admits culpability, the Aquino administration and Liberal Party’s bet for the Presidential race, Mar Roxas, will continue to drop in ratings.

In response to this, Presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe said the protesters were making a rightful demand for government assistance in times of drought. She called for an immediate investigation of the bloody dispersal. Other candidates upheld the Filipino right to free assembly, condemned the use of bullets to disperse protesters and called for a thorough investigation into the security forces who fired at the crowd.

Similarly, Vice Presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. stood against the use of bullets to disperse protesters. Marcos said: “I deplore the use of bullets to answer legitimate demands of our farmers and their families in North Cotabato. They are hungry and they are just asking for food so they can feed their families. The violent dispersal was completely unnecessary.”

The legal response has so far focused on the violation of the rights of the protesters. The regional director of the Commission on Human Rights said that the police who fired shots at farmers who were on their knees had clearly violated human rights. Correspondingly, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and its affiliate, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao will file charges against GovernorEmmylou Taliño-Mendoza, police Supt. Alex Tagum and others responsible for the violence and killing.

The aftermath: what effects for local peace?

The Commission on Human Rights, the Senate, the Philippine National Police, and many civil society organisations are conducting separate probes into the violent dispersal.

And in Metro Manila, social movements staged a mass demonstration in from of the Department of Agriculture to protest. Many other rallies ensued in front of the headquarters of the Philippine National Police and elsewhere.

The violent dispersal of the peasants and indigenous peoples is a step backwards in the peacebuilding process. Mindanao is beset with many problems which led to the formation, development and rise of several Mindanao-based rebel groups, including the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and their splinter groups. In addition, the nationwide underground revolutionary groups, such as the National Democratic Front and the Communist Party of the Philippines have a strong presence in Mindanao. The national government and local government must own up to the violent dispersal, hurting of protesters and killings in order for the peacebuilding efforts to move one step forward again.

In Mindanao, the hungry and suffering people cry for rice, not bullets.

Philippines: Is There an HIV Law in the Philippines?

11 April 2016 - 12:13pm
Source: Pulitzer Center Country: Philippines

ANA P. SANTOS

MANILA, Philippines – When the Philippines passed the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act in 1998, it was celebrated as a pioneering law that primarily aimed to protect the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and prevent the escalation of new HIV infections.

Read the full article

Philippines: DSWD, LGUs intensify aid for families affected by drought

10 April 2016 - 5:01am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

QUEZON CITY, April 10 - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units (LGUs) in Region XII which are experiencing drought due to the El Niño phenomenon have strengthened their collaborative efforts to speed up delivery of assistance to affected families.

DSWD-Field Office XII Regional Director Bai Zorahayda Taha met on Tuesday with North Cotabato Govenor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza and Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista to identify areas of collaboration. They agreed that DSWD-Field Office XII will extend food assistance for 150,000 families in the province with an estimated requirement of 15,000 bags of NFA rice at five kilos per family for April.

The distribution of food assistance shall be coursed through the Provincial/City/Municipal Social Welfare Development Office (P/C/MSWDO) of each area.

Field Office XII remains in close coordination with the P/C/MSWDO of North Cotabato for the immediate release of rice allocation per LGU.

In addition, the Field Office will also provide burial assistance amounting to P5,000 each for the two bereaved families of the farmers who died, and P3,000 each for families with injured family member during the incident in Kidapawan City.

DSWD is also providing psycho-social support to emotionally disturbed rallyists. The DSWD, through its Field Office in SOCCSKSARGEN, will also extend P1,000 each as “balik-barrio” assistance.

On the other hand, the provincial LGU of North Cotabato will extend food assistance for the month of May.

In other drought-hit LGUs, validation and assessment of affected famers in Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga City is ongoing.

DSWD Field Office- IX is also coordinating with the PSWDO in Basilan in the Autonomous Region in Mindanao (ARMM) for the list of names in the affected municipalities.

In Davao Region, DSWD-Field Office XI provided an initial 2,000 family food packs amounting to P774,000 to Davao del Sur; 1,000 packs amounting to P387,000 to Compostela Valley; and, 1,000 packs worth P387,000 to Davao del Norte.

In CARAGA, the DSWD-Field Office here is continuously coordinating with the Regional Disaster Response Committee and Inter-Agency Monitoring of the Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Niño (RAIN) on the updates regarding the calamity.

The Field Office has prepositioned a total of 5,000 family food packs in LGUs located in strategic areas.

Another 6,859 FFPs are available at the DSWD Regional Bodega located at DPWH Equipment Service in Tiniwisan, Butuan City, and 1,000 packs at the PSWDO in Tandag, Surigao del Sur. These can be delivered to requesting LGUs anytime.

To date, the DSWD has released a total of P1,270,645,194.13 worth of assistance to LGUs for families affected by the prolonged period of low rainfall in Regions NCR, I, II, III, IV-A, IV-B, VI, VII, X, XI XII and ARMM. The amount includes the cost of family food packs, hygiene kits, and the implementation of Cash-for-Work funded under the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (CCAM) and Quick Response Funds of the Department.

Todate, a total of 139,996 families or 695,345 persons from Regions VI, X, XII, and ARMM have been affected by El Niño. (DSWD)

World: A Transparent and Accountable Judiciary to Deliver Justice for All

9 April 2016 - 2:33pm
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Serbia, Somalia, World

Executive summary

Corruption is hampering the delivery of justice globally. People perceive the judiciary as the second most corrupt sector, just after the police. In the last decade governments and development partners’ efforts to reform judiciaries have been undermined by corruption, and few have taken concrete steps to address it.

Although there are several international standards on judicial integrity and independence, implementation is the challenge. But it doesn’t have to be this way, UNDP experience in the field shows that change is possible in judicial systems.

This report finds that opening up judicial systems fosters integrity and increases public trust without impeding independence of the judiciary. The report advocates for judiciaries to open up to peer learning by engaging representatives from judiciaries of other countries in capacity assessments to improve judicial integrity. It also encourages judiciaries to consult end-users, associations of judges and use new technologies to foster transparency and accountability.

There are few wide-ranging success stories but lessons can be learned from piecemeal solutions that have worked in individual countries. The report highlights stories from countries in various contexts - Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Kosovo, Nepal,
Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, and Somalia. It draws on international expert discussions held during the 16th session of Transparency International’s IACC.

The report discusses internal oversight within the judiciary such as judicial councils, and the related challenge of finding an appropriate model that balances judicial independence and accountability. It also looks at how stakeholders such as associations of judges and court users can become allies in reforming judicial systems. For example, the report cites the use of surveys and consultations with court users that have led to more responsive services and reduced demands for bribes. Another potential transformative tool is the use of new technologies and court automation. For example, digitising court documents and statistics has helped increase transparency for people who can access judgements on-line, reduce bureaucracy, and achieve efficiency. Even in post-conflict environments where change is difficult, NGOs working with citizens to monitor trials in selected provinces have contributed to improving the administration of justice.

The recently approved 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides renewed impetus to deliver justice for all. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 includes key targets for providing access to justice, and tackling corruption. The aim of the report is to help transform judicial systems across the world by illustrating inspirational experiences for delivering justice for all.

This report has six parts. Section 1 discusses the importance of promoting a transparent and accountable judiciary to deliver justice for all as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With the monitoring of SDG 16, it will become increasingly important to collect evidence on judicial systems to measure progress over time.

In Section 2, the report reviews the main international surveys and indexes on corruption perception, as well as diagnostic tools available for assessing judicial integrity.
The Nigerian experience distils lessons from a multi-year judicial reform programme, where the broader community was instrumental in developing a baseline for reform and monitoring progress over time.

Section 3 focuses on internal judicial oversight mechanisms for strengthening integrity and accountability, while reflecting on their appropriateness in different contexts, including in post-conflict countries, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, as well as in Nepal and Somalia.

Section 4 argues that, although technology is not a panacea, automation of court services and proceedings can expedite procedures, avoid human interaction to minimize corruption risks, and give citizens access to court information and statistics. Indonesia and the Philippines provide case studies on how technical solutions can open up judicial verdicts to public scrutiny. Reference is also made to UNDP’s “Strengthening Management Capacities for Governance” approach in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Section 5 presents innovative approaches from Afghanistan and Kenya for involving the community and civil society in trial monitoring and as part of court user committees to increase judicial integrity and accountability.

In Section 6, the report concludes with a call to judiciaries around the world to open up their institutions to peer learning by involving representatives from judiciaries of other countries in assessments of judicial integrity. It highlights some principles to guide these assessments in a way that promotes ownership and effectiveness:

  • Making the assessment part of a capacity development exercise, not a mere ad-hoc evaluation;
    Executive Summary Ensuring that the capacity assessments are owned and driven by the judiciary itself while the role of external experts is limited to facilitating the self-assessment;

  • Involving judges and legal practitioners from other countries who have faced similar challenges to foster peer-to-peer exchange;

  • Having a participatory and inclusive capacity assessment that consults all levels of the organisation being assessed as well as other key actors such as associations of judges or court users;

  • Undertaking a capacity assessment that directly feeds into a reform process with the development of an integrity action plan by the organisation itself;

  • Grounding the integrity action plan developed as a result of the capacity assessments in normative and policy frameworks.

Finally, the report encourages development partners and researchers to work together in mapping out corruption risks in the overall justice system to develop more integrated programming on anti-corruption and rule of law.

Philippines: Linking Preparedness Response and Resilience in Emergency Contexts (LPRR): Philippines Case Study Policy Recommendations

8 April 2016 - 3:53pm
Source: King's College London, Christian Aid Country: Philippines

Authors: Rebecca Murphy, Mark Pelling, Emma Visman and Simone Di Vicenz

This policy brief outlines the core messages and recommendations coming out from the study that explored Christian Aid Typhoon Ketsana and Help Age International Typhoon Haiyan interventions. The authors asked community members, field staff, government officials and other key stakeholders what the biggest challenges were in implementing resilience informed humanitarian response and what they would recommend for improved practice. The brief aims to analyse past humanitarian interventions to understand and map out how emergency response can be better informed by communities’ understanding of what builds their resilience and links to longer term development.

This research was part of "Linking Preparedness Response and Resilience in Emergency Contexts (LPRR)" which is a START DEPP DfID funded 3 year, consortium led project aimed at strengthening humanitarian programming for more resilient communities. The consortium is led by Christian Aid and includes Action Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help Age International, Kings College London, Muslim Aid, Oxfam, Saferworld and World Vision.