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The Human and Peoples' Rights Declaration of the Philippines

We, peoples of the Philippines, give highest value to the dignity and fullness of life of the human person and share a common aspiration for human rights—even as we speak different languages and dialects, profess different spiritual beliefs and uphold different ideologies.
Ours is a history of revolutionary struggle against all forms of oppression for national freedom, justice, equality and peace. The same struggle and aspirations for freedom and respect for human rights have inspired our collective spirit to become a nation proud of our heritage and diverse culture. Today, we rekindle the same revolutionary spirit in our struggle against the negative effects of globalization, debt burden, environmental destruction, social inequality and poverty. These make human and peoples’ rights our foremost concern.
We assert that human and peoples’ rights are our fundamental, inherent and inalienable rights to life, dignity and development. We recognize that these rights are universal, interdependent and indivisible and are essential to fulfill and satisfy our civil, political, economic, social, cultural, spiritual and environmental needs. They are what make us human.
The growing democratization process and human rights consciousness as exemplified in the active participation and assertion of civil society have served as tools in opposing all forms of human rights violations and all forces that block our development as individuals and as a nation.
Therefore, we hereby proclaim by this declaration, the basic standards for the protection, promotion, respect and fulfillment of human and peoples’ rights by the State.

1. We have the natural right to life and liberty and are equal in dignity. Equal concern and respect for these basic rights should be guaranteed, protected and upheld by the State.
2. The State has the duty to safeguard and assure the dignity of its peoples as individuals and as members of communities and ensure their capacity for self-development. The State should formulate policies, enact laws and provide mechanisms that are in conformity with universal human rights standards.
3. The State has the obligation to provide the highest standard of living for its citizens by eradicating social, economic, political, cultural, ethnic and gender inequalities. In the determination and implementation of laws and policies, the government must always respect and consider the concerns of women, children and youth, persons with disabilities, the mentally challenged, older persons, indigenous and Moro peoples, the urban and rural poor, farmers and fisherfolk, workers - local and overseas, public or private, whether formally employed or not, displaced families and communities and other vulnerable sectors, with the view to ensuring their empowerment.
4. The diversity and plurality of the Philippines must be safeguarded through respect and tolerance. The State must respect and promote harmony and understanding between and among individuals, communities and peoples. It must uphold non-discrimination among peoples regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, social beliefs and political convictions. Cultural traditions and institutionalized power shall not serve as justification for any form of violence, abuse, neglect, or deprivation of human and peoples’ rights.
5. We have the right to life, liberty, security and property. We have the right to a transparent, credible, competent and impartial justice system, free from influence and corruption, where wrongs are redressed and justice is dispensed fairly, speedily and equitably. We must have equal access to the courts and adequate legal assistance. We must be treated equally before the law regardless of our political, social and economic status.
6. We have a right to the security and privacy of our persons and our homes. The State shall respect and uphold our right to the privacy of communication, information, private transactions and affairs. The State shall ensure our freedom of movement and liberty of abode.
7. The requirements of due process of law shall be observed before, during and after trial. The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty and shall enjoy the right against self-incrimination, the right to an independent and competent counsel preferably of his or her own choice, and the right to be informed of such rights.
8. Detainees and prisoners have the right to humane conditions of detention with adequate food, space and ventilation, rest and recreation, sanitary and health services, and skills training. They have the right to communicate with counsel, family and friends and be visited by them. The right to practice their religious beliefs and to express themselves shall likewise not be denied. The State must provide separate detention facilities for women and children in conflict with the law. Detainees and prisoners shall be given the opportunity for correction and rehabilitation towards their reintegration into society.
9. No person shall be subjected to arrests, searches, seizures and detention without due process of law. No suspect, detainee or prisoner shall be subjected to torture, force, violence, intimidation, harassment or threats. No accused shall be subjected to trial by publicity. Neither shall cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment or incommunicado or solitary confinement be imposed.
10. We have the right against involuntary disappearances. The State shall protect its citizens from all forms of systematic and massive extrajudicial and summary killings. The State shall take responsibility for all the acts of its State agents and give information and assistance to the families of the disappeared.
11. We have the right to live in a democracy and are entitled to enjoy its benefits. The right to meaningful representation, participation and decision-making about individual and community concerns shall be recognized and maintained. The protection of life, liberty and property, the upliftment of economic conditions and the promotion of the general welfare are essential prerequisites of a truly democratic society.
12. Public office is a public trust. Transparency, accountability, integrity and competence are minimum standards of good governance. It is the State’s duty to eliminate graft and corruption at all levels of the bureaucracy. Towards this end, our right to information on matters involving public interest shall be safeguarded.
13. We have the right to determine, participate, intervene and take action in all matters that directly and indirectly affect our welfare. The freedoms of speech, press, association and peaceful assembly shall at all times be recognized and protected by the State.
14. The State shall provide equal access to opportunities for public service to all competent and qualified citizens. The State must equitably diffuse political power and prohibit political dynasties in accordance with democratic principles.
15. Sovereignty resides in the people. We reserve the right to defy a tyrannical, oppressive and corrupt regime by means consistent with general principles of human rights.
16. We have the right to enjoy the highest standard of health. The State shall ensure that its citizens shall be adequately nourished and free from hunger. The State has the obligation to establish a responsive social housing program and protect the people from unjust evictions from their homes. Protection and assistance shall be accorded marginalized families and vulnerable sectors of society.
17. We have the right to a free, accessible, relevant, nationalistic, quality, gender and culturally sensitive education, responsive to our needs, which advances the culture of human rights.
18. The State must establish a responsive social welfare system that contributes to the continuous improvement of its people and their lives. All public utilities should be accessible and affordable to meet the peoples’ basic necessities.
19. Children and youth have rights to special care, education, health, and protection against all forms of abuse, discrimination, exploitation, corruption, and conditions affecting their moral development. The best interest of the child shall always take precedence in State policies and laws.
20. Women are partners of men in nation building. They have equal rights in civil, political, social, and cultural aspects of life. The State shall protect and defend them from discrimination, exploitation, trafficking, assault, battery and other forms of abuse and violence.
21. Men and women have reproductive rights. The State shall recognize the rights of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. The State shall also recognize the rights of couples in making decisions regarding reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents.
22. The indigenous and Moro peoples have the right to equality with all other peoples and against all forms of discrimination. They have the right to existence as distinct peoples free from assimilation as well as the right to resist development aggression, which threatens their survival as a community. Thus, the State shall assist and support them in the protection and preservation of their culture, language, tradition and belief. They have an inherent right to their ancestral domain, which must be given urgent immediate attention and protection by the State and should be respected and defended by all.
23. The State shall accord special protection to persons with disabilities. They have the right to enjoyment of equal opportunity as well as appropriate and accessible social services, education, employment, rehabilitation and social security.
24. Older persons shall be given preferential treatment by the State. They shall be given priority in terms of accessible social security and health.
25. We have the right to a nationalistic and independent economic policy protected from foreign domination and intrusion. We have the right to a self-reliant economy based on national industrialization. We have the right to resist all forms of oppressive and unreasonable trade liberalization, to oppose a subservient debt management strategy, and to repudiate all foreign debts that do not benefit the people. The State shall develop efficient and effective debt management strategies that will benefit the people and shall give preferential treatment to local capital.
26. We have the right to equal access to employment opportunities and professional advancement. The labor force is the lifeblood of the country and all workers have the right to just compensation, dignified and humane working environment, job security, the right to form and join unions and organizations, to bargain collectively, to go on strike and to actively participate in political life. Discrimination in the work place, sexual harassment, slavery, exploitation, and child labor shall not be tolerated. Moreover, overseas workers have the right to enjoy the basic rights accorded to workers in their respective host countries, consistent with international labor laws or standards.
27. Land, as a limited resource, bears a social function. The right to own land should be limited to Filipinos and shall be guided by the principle of stewardship and subject to the demands of the common good. Peasants shall have the right to own the land they till through a genuine agrarian reform program including support services. Landowners shall also be protected from land grabbers through effective legal and administrative measures.
28. Fisherfolk have the right of access to fishing grounds, to protection from foreign incursions and local large-scale/commercial fishing business, to genuine aquatic reforms and to the preservation and protection of communal fishing grounds.
29. We have the preferential right to the judicious cultivation, utilization, and preservation of our natural resources which will ensure an ecological balance that can support and sustain the total physical and economic well being of every person, family and community.
30. The marginalized and vulnerable sectors shall have preferential access/control to credit and micro-finance, and the right to skills and livelihood training, which shall contribute to the constant improvement of their lives.
31. We have the right to self-determination. This right provides us with the freedom to develop ourselves as peoples, preserve our culture and retain our national identity. Our peoples shall not be coerced into assimilation, nor shall forced evacuation, dislocation and displacement resulting from development aggression and other State policies should be allowed. We have the right to resist any form of political, economic, social or cultural domination by resorting to any legitimate means.
32. We have the right to a clean, safe and sustainable environment that supports an equitable quality of life. Ecological balance must be preserved in the pursuit of national development because the capacity of our resources to continue supporting our daily needs is limited. Collectively, we have the intergenerational responsibility to protect, conserve and develop our natural environment for the enjoyment of present and future generations of Filipinos.
33. We have the right to a social order, which is conducive to peace and development. It is the duty of the State to undertake a comprehensive peace process that reflects the sentiments, values and principles important to all peoples of the Philippines. Therefore, it shall not be defined by the State alone, nor the different contending groups only, but by all peoples of the Philippines as one community. The promotion and protection of our rights must be geared towards international understanding, solidarity among peoples and nations, and friendship among all racial, ethnic or religious groups.
Human rights are universal, inalienable and indivisible. They are dynamic and continue to evolve in response to the growing needs, concerns and aspirations of individuals and communities. These rights are enriched in the course of the struggle for their full recognition. The human and peoples’ rights affirmed in this declaration are wholly consistent with contemporary international standards. Nothing in this declaration shall be used to negate or deny any other rights – whether specified or inferred found in national or international human rights instruments.
The promotion of human and peoples’ rights is pursued through individual and collective action. They are the product or purposive struggle and are linked to the real conditions and concerns of the people. While much has been achieved, much remains to be done. In this new millennium, there will remain the need for human rights defenders so long as repressive regimes, systems and structures exist that threaten to thwart our gains.
In our world today, more and more people have become aware and thus aspire to live in an environment that protects the universal standards of human rights. Human rights are a source of strength and power for people – they enable us to continue to work for peace, prosperity, progress and sustainable development. The cause of human rights enlivens our commitment to the realizations of the fullness of life. This is our collective task as a people in solidarity with all the people of the world.
Background Note
The Human and Peoples' Rights Declaration of the Philippines is being use as the contribution of the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism to the drafting of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.