Human rights in the Philippines

Human rights in the Philippines pertains to the concept, practice, and issues of human rights within the Philippine archipelago. The concept of "human rights," in the context of the Philippines, pertains mainly (but is not limited) to the civil and political rights of a person[1] living in the Philippines by reason of the 1987 Philippines Constitution.[2]

Human rights are a justified set of claims that set moral standards to members of the human race, not exclusive to a specific community or citizenship.[3] Membership in the human race is the sole qualification to obtain these right.[3] Human rights, unlike area-specific conventions of international laws (e.g. European Convention on Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights),[3] are universally justifiable as it pertains to the entire human race, regardless of geographical location.[3]

The Philippines is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) drafted by the United Nations (UN) in the 1948.[4] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, alongside the Genocide Convention and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, by the United Nations in response to the tragic and horrendous violations of human rights during the Second World War.[5] The United Nations Charter, a treaty, was created in order to define what roles, powers, and duties the United Nations is allowed to practice in dealing with international relations. Article I of the UN Charter states that the UN aims:

"To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion;"[6]

According to the Charter, the jurisdiction of the United Nations is to provide cooperation among the nations, and not act as an international government. The UN Charter paved the way for the drafting of the UDHR. The UDHR aims to promote "universal respect for, and the observance of, human rights."[5] Thus, the UDHR is merely a declaration for each signatory to adopt to its own political system. The significance of the UDHR as stated in its Preamble is:

"Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge."[4]

As a signatory to the UDHR, the Philippines then declares an understanding and adherence of these fundamental and inalienable rights to its population. The Philippines has adhered to the UDHR through the Bill of Rights, and continued to create laws and policies that cater to a specific sector, like the Labor Code and the Indigenous Peoples' Rights.

Practices of Human Rights

Labor Code

Prior to the Marcos Martial Law Era in the Philippines, all labor laws were not codified.[7] President Marcos tasked a committee from the then-called Department of Labor (now the Department of Labor and Employment or DOLE) to consolidate all the existing labor laws of the Philippines. The committee was composed of: Amado G. Inciong, the then Undersecretary of Labor, acting as the chairman of the committee, Director Ricardo Castro, the head of the subcommittee on Labor Relations, Director Diego Atienza, the head of the subcommittee on Labor Standards, and Director Rony Diaz, the head of the subcommittee on Employment and Training. The result was Presidential Decree No. 442 ("PD 442") or "A Decree Instituting the Labor Code and Consolidating Labor and Social Laws to Afford Protection to Labor, Promote Employment and Human Resources Development and Insure the Industrial Peace Based on Social Justice," otherwise known as the "Labor Code of the Philippines". The consolidation was finished on 1 May 1974 and took effect on 1 November 1974.[8]

The Labor Code is the legal code governing employment practices and labor relations in the Philippines. The Labor Code stipulates standards in terms of wages and monetary benefits, hours of work, leaves, rest days, holiday pays, and benefits, among others.

Wages and Monetary Benefits

Taken from Labor Advisory No. 12 Series of 2013: Payment of Thirteenth Month Pay
  1. Minimum Wage
    • Remunerations or earnings paid by an employer to an employee for service rendered are called wages. Article 99 of the Labor Code of the Philippines stipulates that an employer may go over but never below minimum wage. Paying below the minimum wage is illegal.[9] The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards is the body that sets the amount for the minimum wage. As in the case of the Philippines, the minimum wage of a worker depends on where he works.
  2. Thirteenth Month Pay
    • According to Presidential Decree No. 851, an employer is mandated by law to give his employees thirteenth month pay. The thirteenth month pay required by law should not be less than one twelfth of the total basic salary earned by an employee within a calendar year.[10] The thirteenth month pay is exempted from being taxed by the government. The photo below is from the Department of Labor and Employment which shows the computation of a hypothetical thirteenth month pay.
  3. Retirement Pay
    • Article 287 of the Philippine Labor Code states that, the retiring age of an employee is sixty (60) years or more but not beyond sixty-five (65) years. The retiring employee who has served at least five (5) years in the said establishment shall be entitled to retirement pay equivalent to at least one-half (1/2) month salary for every year of service, a fraction of at least six months being considered as one whole year.[9] "The term 'one-half month salary' shall mean fifteen (15) days plus one twelfth (1/12) of the thirteenth month pay and the cash equivalent of not more than five (5) days of service incentive leaves."[9]

Hours of Work

  1. Normal Hours of Work
    • Article 83 and 84 of the Philippine Labor Code, the normal hours of work of an employee shall not exceed eight (8) hours a day. Hours worked shall include all time that an employee is required to be in the workplace and all time during which an employee is permitted to work. Short breaks during working hours shall be counted as hours worked.[9]
  2. Overtime Work
    • Article 87 of the Philippine Labor Code states that any work that exceeds eight (8) hours is considered overtime work. This is legal provided that the employee is paid for the overtime work. The computation for the wage is his regular wage plus at least twenty-five percent (25%) of his hourly wage. Work performed beyond eight hours on a holiday or rest day shall be paid an additional compensation equivalent to the rate of the first eight hours on a holiday or rest day plus at least thirty percent (30%) thereof.[9]
  3. Night Shift Differential
    • Article 86 of the Philippine Labor Code explains that the night shift is between ten o'clock in the evening and six o'clock in the morning. A night shift differential is payment of not less than ten percent (10%) of the regular hourly wage of an employee for each hour of work performed during this time period.[9]

Rest Days

  1. Weekly Rest Day
    • An employer is required to provide each of his employees a rest period of not less than twenty-four (24) consecutive hours after every six (6) consecutive normal work days, as stated in Article 91 of the Philippine Labor Code. The employer shall determine and schedule the weekly rest day of his employees. He must respect the preference of employees as to their weekly rest day when such preference is based on religious grounds.[9]
    • If an employer requires his employee to work on his scheduled rest day, he shall be paid an additional compensation of at least thirty percent (30%) of his regular wage.[9]
    • If the employee has no regular work days or rest days, and he is required by his employer to work on a Sunday and on a holiday, he shall be paid an additional compensation of at least thirty percent (30%) of his regular wage.[9]

Holiday Pay

  1. Special Non-Working Holiday Pay
    • If an employee works on 21 August, Ninoy Aquino Day, 1 November, All Saints Day, and/or 31 December, Last Day of the year, his wage will be:
      • for first eight (8) hours of work - plus thirty percent (30%) of the daily rate
      • for excess of eight (8) hours of work - plus thirty percent (30%) of hourly rate on said day
    • If an employee works on 21 August, Ninoy Aquino Day, 1 November, All Saints Day, and/or 31 December, Last Day of the Year and it falls under his rest day, his wage will be
      • for the first eight (8) hours of work - plus fifty percent (50%) of the daily rate
      • excess of eight (8) hours of work - plus thirty percent (30%) of hourly rate on said day
  2. Regular Holiday Pay
    • Article 93 and 94 of the Philippine Labor Code states that a worker shall be paid his regular daily wage during regular holidays whether or not the employee goes to work. The employer can require an employee to work on any holiday but the employee must be paid an amount double his regular wage.[9]
    • If the holiday falls under the employee's rest day, and he decides to work, his wage for the first eight (8) hours of his work will be doubled. If he works for more than eight (8) hours, then thirty percent (30%) of his hourly rate will be added to his wage for that day.
    • The regular holidays according to EO 292 as amended by RA 9849 are as follows:
      • New Year - 1 January
      • Maundy Thursday - Movable Date
      • Good Friday - Movable Date
      • Araw ng Kagitingan - 19 April
      • Labor Day - 1 May
      • Independence Day - 12 June
      • National Heroes Day - Last Sunday of August
      • Bonifacio Day - 30 November
      • Eid'l Fitr - Movable Date
      • Eid'l Adha - Movable Date
      • Christmas Day - 25 December
      • Rizal Day - 30 December


  1. Service Incentive Leave
    • Article 95 of the Philippine Labor Code states that if an employee has given at least one (1) year of service, he shall be entitled to a yearly service incentive leave of five (5) days with pay.[9]
  2. Paternity Leave
    • The paternity leave is not found in the Labor Code. The basis for the paternity leave is Republic Act No. 8187, otherwise known as the "Paternity Leave Act of 1996″. RA 8187 states that a married male employee is allowed to take 7 days off work with full pay for the first four deliveries.
  3. Maternity Leave
    • Republic Act No. 7322 states that a pregnant employee who has paid at least three monthly maternity contributions to the Social Security System in the twelve-month period preceding the semester of her childbirth, abortion or miscarriage and who is currently employed shall be paid a daily maternity benefit equivalent to one hundred percent (100%) of her present basic salary, allowances and other benefits or the cash equivalent of such benefits for sixty (60) for normal delivery a seventy-eight (78) for caesarian delivery.[11]
    • The maternity leave can be extended without pay if any illness medically certified are to come as a result of the pregnancy, delivery, abortion, or miscarriage which leaves the woman unfit to work.[9]
    • As with the paternity leave, the maternity leave is only valid for the first four deliveries.

Employment of Women

  1. Facilities for Women
    • Article 132 of the Labor Code of the Philippines requires employers to:
      • Provide seats proper for women and let them use these seats when they are free from work or during work hours provided that they can perform their duties in this position without sacrificing efficiency.
      • Establish separate toilet rooms for men and women and provide at least a dressing room for women.
      • Establish a nursery in a workplace for the benefit of women employees.
      • Determine appropriate minimum age and other standards for retirement or termination in special occupations such as those of flight attendants and the like.[9]
  2. Discrimination
    • Article 134 of the Labor Code of the Philippines states that a woman cannot be paid a lesser compensation than a man for work of equal value.
    • Favoring a male employee over a female employee with regard to promotion, training opportunities, study, scholarship grants based on only their sexes is also illegal.[9]
  3. Prohibited Acts
    • Based on Article 137 the employer is not allowed to:
      • Deprive any woman employee of any of the benefits mentioned above and in Articles 130-136 of the Labor Code or to terminate any woman employee for the purpose of stopping her from enjoying said benefits.
      • Terminate a woman because of her pregnancy while on leave or in confinement due to it.
      • Discharge or refuse the admission of such woman from returning to her work for fear that she may again be pregnant.[9]

On Employment and Termination

  1. Security of Tenure
    • Article 279 of the Labor code discusses that if an employee is already a regular employee, the employer cannot terminate his services without just cause and due process. An employee unjustly dismissed from work can return to it without any losses of benefits, privileges, and allowances from the time he was unjustly dismissed to the time of his actual return.[9]
  2. Regular and Casual Employment
    • An employee will be considered a regular employee if he has been able to performs tasks that are necessary in the business or trade of the employer, except when the employee was hired for a specific project and its completion also signifies the employee's termination and if the nature of work or services is seasonal and the employment is for the duration of the season. The employment is said to be casual if his nature of work has not been covered by the aforementioned sentences. After a year of rendering service, whether continuous or not, an employee shall be deemed regular, as stated by Article 280 of the Philippine Labor Code.[9]
  3. Probationary Employment
    • Article 281 of the Labor Code states that probationary employment should not go over six (6) months unless it is under an apprenticeship agreement stipulating a longer period. An employee who continues to work after the probationary period will be considered a regular employee. A probationary employee may be discharged for a just cause or when he fails to qualify as a regular employee.[9]


  1. Social Security Benefits
    • According to RA 1161, as amended by RA 8282, "The Social Security Program provides a package of benefits in the event of death, disability, sickness, maternity, and old age. Basically, the Social Security System (SSS) provides for a replacement of income lost on account of the aforementioned contingencies."[12] A worker, whether regular or casually employed is entitled to these benefits.
  2. PhilHealth Benefits
    • According to RA 7875, as amended by RA 9241, "The National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), formerly known as Medicare, is a health insurance program for SSS members and their dependents whereby the healthy subsidize the sick who may find themselves in need of financial assistance when they get hospitalized."[12] Employees of the public and private sector are covered by these benefits.

Indigenous Peoples' Rights

The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 recognized and promoted the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICC/IPs) enumerated within the framework of the Constitution. It committed the State to recognize and promote the rights of ICCs/IPs to:

It declared that the State recognizes its obligations to respond to the strong expression of the ICCs/IPs for cultural integrity by assuring maximum ICC/IP participation in the direction of education, health, as well as other services of ICCs/IPs, in order to render such services more responsive to the needs and desires of these communities.[13]

Violations Against Human Rights

Marcos Administration (1965 - 1986)

On 21 September 1972, then President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines.[14] Marcos gave the armed forces the power to "prevent or suppress… any act of insurrection or rebellion" which compromised the people's rights.[15] A total of 398 disappearances, 1,388 extrajudicial killings, and 1,499 killed or wounded in massacres were recorded but not every victim was accounted for.[14]

After the declaration of Martial Law, Marcos issued six (6) general orders and an instruction to close privately owned media facilities. The Press Secretary, Francisco Tatad, and Secretary for National Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, were ordered by Marcos "to take over and control or cause the taking over and control of all such newspapers, magazines, radio and television facilities and all other media communications..."[16] The information released to the public was highly censored and prevented journalists from releasing any suspicious information about the administration. Failure to abide would lead to arrest.

The assassination of Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino triggered the peaceful 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, led by Aquino's wife, Corazon "Cory" Aquino. The peaceful revolution united the nation in a call against Marcos to uphold their human rights. It led to the abolition of Martial Law, the exile of the Marcos family, as well as Cory Aquino's rise to the presidency.[17]

Arroyo Administration (2001 - 2010)

The Arroyo Administration was riddled by its several issues on several forms of violations against human rights. Most of these which include the increase in military power and presence, especially in Muslim Mindanao.[18] Philip Alston, a UN Rapporteur, published Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right To Development on 2008 that chronicled and reported the situation he had found while in the Philippines.[18] Many incidents of extrajudicial killings were linked to this report, most notable of which is Sichi Bustamante-Gandinao, who was a direct testimony of the abuses concerning the military.

The Sichi Bustamante-Gandinao Murder

Sichi Bustamante-Gandinao was a peasant organizer in Salay, Misamis Oriental.[18] She was the chairman of the Misamis Oriental Farmers Organization and the coordinator of the party list group called Bayan Muna. She was also an outspoken critic of the actions the Citizens' Armed Force Geographical Unit or CAFGU, and how they disrupt the relatively peaceful communities in Misamis Oriental.[19] Philip Alston was a UN Rapporteur, who had Gandinao as a testimony to the extrajudicial killings, and other violations of human rights the military was practicing, whether it was the military is contested by the Military.[18][19][20] The Alston report was published on 2008, which highlighted these abuses through the United Nations General Assembly.[20] On the March 2007, however, Gandinao, together with her husband and daughter, was walking home after a day of doing farm work. Gandinao was then shot four times by two men on a motorcycle heading towards a nearby military camp, while Gandinao's family helplessly watched the attack.[18][19] The local officials and passers-by all told Gandinao's husband and daughter that they were too busy to tend to the bleeding Gandinao.[19] According to reports, after two hours of bleeding profusely, the assailants went back to the scene of the crime and even watched the entire ordeal of Gandinao.[18][19] Her husband had to carry her to the Cagayan de Oro ambulance, which took another hour to get to the actual hospital. In the Cagayan de Oro hospital, Gandinao was pronounced dead on arrival.[18][19]

Vigilantism and Death Squad

According to the Alston report, the presence of "vigilantism" and Death Squad in Davao has been a commonplace occurrence, and has been going on for some time now, prior to his visit in the Philippines from 2006 to 2007.[20] The Death Squad, however, operate with no intention of hiding their identities, and in broad daylight. Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has held office, aside from a brief stint as a congressman, since 1988. Rodrigo Duterte is known for his strict, anti-criminal approach in governing Davao City.[21] However, in the same report, Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that hundreds of unsolved murders were committed during his time as mayor, and that he takes for "full responsibility" of it.[20] When Duterte was first elected as mayor, he faced a Davao with problems like rampant youth gangs, the New Peoples' Army (NPA) killing policemen routinely, and crime.[20][20] The Davao Death Squad (DDS) has had over 500 victims since 1998; killing targets in public and in broad daylight.[20] These executions were a response to petty crimes, and targets are sent warnings explaining why they are targeted by the DDS.[20] It was, however, noted that during Duterte's term as mayor, criminal activity has decreased significantly. It should also be noted, however, that there are hundreds of unsolved murders.[20]

Benigno Aquino Administration (2010 - 2016)

On 30 June 2010, Benigno Aquino III was sworn into office as the President of the Philippines.[22] Notable acts during his term include the implementation of the K-12 program, the revocation of midnight appointments, the founding of the Philippine Truth Commission, the creation of agencies such as the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and the framing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The administration vowed to eradicate corruption within the government system, but has yet to resolve such cases as those regarding Hacienda Luisita[23] and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. Listed below are the cases of human rights violations under the second Aquino administration:

Lumad Killings

The Lumads are people from various ethnic groups in Mindanao island. Residing in their ancestral lands,[24] they are often evicted and displaced due to the Moro people's claim on the same territory.[25] The Lumads have lost parts of their ancestral land due to a failure to understand the modern land tenure system.[26] To counter this, the Lumads established schools in their communities, supplying essential knowledge for the tribe members that would protect their rights, property and culture.[27] However, the Lumad communities are located in mountains that are distant from urban areas. These areas are also the location sites of armed conflict between the New People's Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Caught in the conflict, the Lumad people's education, property, and security are endangered because of the increasing amount of military activity by the armed parties.[26] Increasing military activity have eventually led to the displacement of the communities to shelter sites.[28] Anxiety continues to grow among the Lumads with the escalation of armed conflict and detainment of community leaders (tribe leaders and teachers) labelled as rebels by the military.[29] Alternative schools within the communities (aided by NGOs and universities) face concerns of closing down or demolition of their property, with some buildings converted by the military for their use.[30] Lumad leaders and tribesmen, having experienced political detention due to false suspicions as well as the displacement of their tribes from their areas, have demanded respect for their human rights.[31]

In response to the killing, detention, and displacement of members of their tribes, the Lumads have organized groups to gain the public's attention, calling for the halt of militarization in their communities. Students, religious leaders, and human rights advocates have supported the Lumads in their movement against the militarization. Activities held to support the Lumad movements have included concerts, cultural festivals (focusing on ethnic culture), and commemoration of Lumad leaders killed in the conflict. Activity leaders have included Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Fr. Tullio Favali, and Fr. Salvatore Carzedda.[32] Groups like the Manilakbayan 2015 supported the movements through recruitment and the handing out of national situationers to students to spread awareness about the Lumads' dilemma.[33] The Philippines' Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has been investigating the incidents in regard to the 2015 murder of Lumad leaders and a school official by a paramilitary group called Magahat/Bagani[34] (in line with the idea of CAFGU) created by the AFP to hunt for NPA members. The AFP denies the allegation and attributes the killings to tribal conflict.[35] However, the AFP has admitted that CAFGU has Lumad recruits within its ranks while asserting that the NPA has also recruited Lumads for the group.[36][37] There is also delay of a decision on the CHR investigation due to the noncooperation of the Lumad group after the interruption of the investigation by the spokesman of Kalumaran Mindanao, Kerlan Fanagel. Fanagel insists that the group need not have another 'false' dialogue with the CHR since CHR has yet to present the results/findings of the investigations from the past months when Lumad leaders were killed. Because of the lack of data, CHR decided to postpone the presentation of their initial report to the second week of December 2015.[38]

Political prisoners

Political prisoners are people arrested because of their opposition towards the current Aquino government; they are seen as 'enemies of the state' and are imprisoned upon arrest. As recorded by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in September 2014, 840 political prisoners were held in detention cells and prisons. To promote human rights, the government has permitted access to international humanitarian organizations and have granted pardon, parole, and amnesty programs based on NGOs' lists.[39]

Journalist killings

The number of journalist killings under the Aquino administration has been noted to be the highest since 1986.[40] Because of this, the Philippines has been ranked by CNN as the third deadliest country for journalists.[41] Information about disappearances and murders of reporters are kept from the public, making several agencies/organizations as well as whistleblowers at risk of exposure to harm. Some of the well-known journalists killed in their line of work during the Aquino government include: Henry Araneta, Desidario Camangyan, Joselito Agustin, Gerardo Ortega, Romeo Olea, Christopher Guarin, Mario Sy, Fernando Solijon, Joas Dignos, and Rubylita Garcia.[42] According to the 2014 Human Rights Watch Report, only 6 out of 26 cases managed to identify/capture their suspects.

The Aquino administration implemented reforms towards more effective criminal investigation procedures, in addition to passing laws to better uphold human rights. However, these reforms are underdeveloped. An example is Administration Order 35, which acquired problems in identifying which case to pursue due to the process requirements.[43]

Duterte Administration (2016 - present)

Extrajudicial killings of suspected drug suspects

A day after Rodrigo Duterte sworn into office as president, extrajudicial killings related to illegal drug trade rose. With the vigilante killings becoming rampant, the Citizen's Council for Human Rights (CCHR) asked President Duterte to initiate measures to stop the surge of extrajudicial killings.[44]

Human Rights Initiative


Department Of Justice

The Department of Justice of the Philippine Government is its principal law agency. It derives its mandate primarily from the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292).[45] It carries out this mandate through the Department Proper and the Department's attached agencies under the direct control and supervision of the Secretary of Justice.

The DOJ, through its offices and constituent/attached agencies, is also the government's legal counsel and representative in litigations and proceedings requiring the services of a Lawyer; implements the Philippines' laws on the admission and stay of aliens within its territory; and provides free legal services to indigent and other qualified citizens.[46]


As the principal law agency of the Philippines, the Department of Justice carries out specific functions in order to fulfill its basic functions

  1. Administration of the Criminal Justice System
    • The DOJ investigates the commission of crimes and prosecutes offenders through the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the National Prosecution Service (NPS), respectively. The DOJ administers the probation and correction system of the country through the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) and the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA).
  2. Legal Counsel of Government
  3. Provision of Free Legal Assistance
    • The DOJ provides free legal assistance/representation to indigents and poor litigants as well as other qualified persons in criminal, civil, and labor cases, administrative and other quasi-judicial proceedings and non-commercial disputes through the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) pursuant to Republic act No. 9406.
  4. Alternative Dispute Resolution
  5. Other Functions
    1. Witness protection - The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act (R.A. 6981), mandates the DOJ to formulate and implement a Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program for the admission and protection of witnesses.
    2. Anti Human trafficking - The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (R.A. 9208), mandates the prosecution of persons accused of human trafficking and for that purpose, created the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
    3. Rape Victim Assistance and Protection - The Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998 (RA 8505), mandated the DOJ to participate in inter-agency efforts to establish Rape Crisis Centers in every city or province for the purpose of rendering assistance to rape victims.
    4. Anti-Child Pornography - The Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (R.A. 9775), designates the Secretary of Justice as member of Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography that is tasked to coordinate, monitor and oversee the implementation of Anti-Child Pornography Act
Organizational Structure

The Department of Justice is headed by the Secretary of Justice, assisted by four (4) Undersecretaries and two (2) Assistant Secretaries. Within the office of the Secretary of Justice is a prosecution staff which is composed of prosecuting officers and headed by a Prosecutor General. Among other functions, the prosecution staff assists the Secretary of justice in his/her appellate jurisdiction and conducts the preliminary investigation and prosecution of criminal cases involving national security, those for which task forces have been created and criminal cases whose venues are transferred to avoid miscarriage of justice, all when so directed by the Secretary of Justice as public interest may require.

The Department Proper offices and services are composed of the following:


The Department of Justice heads a number of projects, among others are as follows;

  1. Child Protection Program
  2. Criminal Code Committee
    • The purpose of the Criminal Code Committee is to form a new Criminal Code of the Philippines that is updated, modern, simplified, responsive and truly Filipino, in order to improve the administration of justice in the country and enhance access to justice of the poor and other marginalized sectors.. It is composed of representatives from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government[47]
  3. DOJ Action Center
    • The Department of Justice Action Center acts on complaints, requests for legal assistance and queries of walk-in clients as well as over the telephone. Any caller can talk to a lawyer or paralegal officer who can render him assistance.
  4. Juvenile Justice and Welfare
    • The Secretary of Justice is in charge of supervising the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006. (R.A. 9344). This act covers the different stages involving children at risk and children in conflict with the law from prevention to rehabilitation and reintegration.
  5. Office of Cybercrime
    • The Office of Cybercrime is in charge of implementing the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (R.A. 10175).

Commission on Human Rights

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is an independent office created by Section 18, Article XIII of the Philippine Constitution, with the primary function of investigating all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights in the Philippines. The Commission is composed of a Chairperson and four members, majority of which must be lawyers under the constitution.

The Commission is empowered to investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights, adopt rules of procedure and issue contempt citations, provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all criminals within the Philippines, and several other powers in relation to the protection of human rights.


The CHR is in charge of the following programs;[48]

  1. Human Rights Protection Program.
    • The Human Rights Protection Program implemented the Legal and Investigation Office which provides legal aid and counseling services; conducts monitoring of cases/complaints with concerned agencies; conducts rights based public inquiry on issues and concerns of marginalized and disadvantage sectors; and conducts studies to establish certain human rights conditions/situations affecting human development for the adoption of policies, programs and measures for the promotion of human rights. The Legal and Investigation Office also provides appropriate human rights investigative interventions; medico-legal services; conducts alternative dispute resolution of cases thru mediation; quick reaction activities; fact finding missions; rights based situation tracking and rights based investigative monitoring.
  2. The Human Rights Education Teaching Exemplars.
    • The CHR established linkages and collaboration efforts with the Department of Education with this effort, the two agencies forged a Joint of Declaration of Undertaking (JDU) in 1992 and a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in 1996 which provided development of human rights education curriculum for integration across the two levels of education. To implement the main provision of the Memorandum of Agreement, a joint project was undertaken entitled: Writing Workshop in the Development of Human Rights Education Teaching Exemplars for the Elementary and the Secondary Levels.
  3. Human Rights Linkages Development and Strategic Planning.
    • The CHR established a Legislative and Program Division which is in charge of monitoring bills with human rights implications filed in Congress and coordinating in the preparation of the CHRP position on proposed measures. The LPD has participated in almost all committee hearings and Technical Working Group meetings in both houses of Congress and in such other fora on matters with human rights implications. Right to Development Program. A system of developing and monitoring rights-based programs and measures across institutions aimed at creating enabling environment for poverty reduction linked with the nine (9) components of good governance as follows: Electoral and Political Reforms, Right to Development, Judicial Reform, Anti-Corruption, Governance Review, Civil Service & Economic Management, Globalization and Corporate Citizenship, Decentralization & Local Governance.


Department of Labor and Employment

The DOLE was originally named the Bureau of Labor on 18 June 1908 under the Department of Commerce and Police. It was renamed and founded as the Department of Labor on 8 December 1933 as mandated by Legislative Act No. 4121. After a complete internal restructuring in 1982, it was renamed the Department of Labor and Employment.[49] It concerns itself with the protection and welfare of Filipino workers both in the country as well as abroad, and responds accordingly to socio-political and economic challenges that would affect the workers. DOLE is also mandated to create policies and programs as an arm of the Executive Branch in its field of concern.[49] It has set up a number of offices and agencies: 16 regional offices, 83 field offices, 4 satellite offices, 28 overseas posts, 6 bureaus, 7 staff services, and 11 attached agencies. These subgroups are tasked to closely monitor and coordinate the implementation of policies and programs.[49]

Major final outputs

There are seven major services offered by DOLE, namely:[50]

  1. Job Search Assistance Services to assist jobseekers opting for wage employment. The service aims to provide employment guidance and counseling, job referral and facilitation, and timely and accurate jobs and skills description.
  2. Capacity Building Services for Livelihood and Employability of Workers in the Informal and other Specific Sectors to assist the marginalized and disadvantaged workers—informal sector workers, returning OFWs, indigent students and out-of-school youth—by providing skills and entrepreneurship training; access to livelihood opportunities and development, and employment interventions.
  3. Social Partnership Promotion and Dispute Resolution Services to minimize lost working days of workers in formal employment. These lost working days should be a result of avoidance, settlement, and disposition concerns.
  4. Skills Competency, Productivity Training Tech-Voc Education Services to aid the unemployed and underemployed with vocational and technical skills to adapt to the demands of a fluctuating labor market. They provide training and information on productivity technologies.
  5. Services to Saveguard Fair and Just Terms and Conditions of Employment to effectively enforce standards of labor through education, advocacy, inspection, and verification of all required documents.
  6. Social Protection and Welfare Services for Workers in the Informal and Other Specific Sectors to aid workers not usually covered by the protection of government laws. This is done through DOLE'S Social Protection Program.
  7. Work Accident/Illnesses Prevention, Work Compensation and Rehabilitation Services to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and illnesses caused by labor. These services provide compensation and rehabilitation for occupationally disabled workers.

DOLE, with the International Labour Organization (ILO), was a major contributor to the adoption of the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, and The Kasambahay Law (R.A. 10461).[50]

International Labor Organization

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is a tripartite organization that started working with the Philippines in the year 1994.[51] It's vision is as follows:

"The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues."[52]

The ILO Manila office has been active since its founding, starting with the ratifying of the Workman's Compensation (Accidents) Convention 17 based on Act. No. 1874 to extend responsibility of employers for personal injuries and death suffered by employees at work.[53]

Programmes and projects

Below are a number of the recent programmes and projects by ILO Manila.[54]

  1. Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) is ILO Manila's main project. It was made to support the country's Labor Employment Program (LEP). The two major priorities are decent jobs for a competitive Philippines, and improved labor market governance. To achieve this, the ILO will help strengthen the working capacity of the Philippines and apply international labor conventions to constantly update the LEP. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework has listed the DWCP as ILO Manila's top priority.[55]
  2. Infrastructure for Rural Productivity Enhancement Sector (INFRES) Project (4 June 2001 – 31 December 2006) was completed to improve their living conditions, poor people require access to employment and basic goods and services. The poor can improve their situation through national and local investment in infrastructure that provides jobs.
  3. ILO-IPEC Project in support of the Philippine Time-Bound Programme (2 September 2002 – 31 August 2007) was the first and most significant contribution toward the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. It has been designed to leverage resources, and to link up with national and international programs for the benefit of Filipino boys and girls.
  4. Strategies and Tools Against Social Exclusion and Poverty (STEP) (1 January 2003 – 1 June 2005) aimed to provide better quality of life to informal economy workers and their families through better access to health care. This is a donor project from the Government of Norway.
  5. Protecting Domestic Workers against Forced Labour and Trafficking (DOMWORK) (3 May 2004 – 31 December 2006) was a programme on the regulation and condition of Filipino domestic workers. They plan to empower domestic workers on their rights as well as reduce the cases of abuse.
"Through discussions on gender equality, the ILO noted that problems had deepened for the most vulnerable, including women in domestic work. Yet while the global economic downturn has contributed to aggravating their vulnerabilities, domestic workers are beginning to realize gains through changes in public attitude."
  1. Tripartite Action for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Region (1 May 2012 – 31 March 2016) is an ongoing ASEAN TRIANGLE project that aims to significantly reduce the exploitation of labour migrants in the region through increased legal and safe migration and improved labour protection. This is a donor project from the Government of Canada.
  2. Building the Capacity of the Philippines Labour Inspectorate (15 December 2014 – 14 December 2017) is a collaborative project with DOLE to strengthen its Labour Law Compliance System (LLCS) by promoting a positive mindset towards work.

Indigenous peoples

  1. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
    • The NCIP was born through the merging of the Office for Northern Cultural Communities (ONCC), and the Office for Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC) in the year 1997 through RA 8371 or "Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997". It is a highly specialized commission with different projects for each region.
  2. International Labor Organization
  3. Tebtebba
  4. Cordillera Peoples Alliance
    • The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) was founded in 1984. Among many other projects and campaigns, CPA has pushed for regional autonomy, campaigns for the defense of land, life, and resources, opposed large-scale mining in the Cordillera to save Abra river, and exposed violations of human rights committed in their region.[58]
  5. Kalipunan Ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayanng Pilipinas - KATRIBU (National Federation of Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines)
    • KATRIBU was founded in the year 1987. Previously known as KAMP, KATRIBU aims for the attainment of land rights and for the formation of allegiances and government of the indigenous peoples. KATRIBU is currently protesting DMCI’s planned15-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Narra, Palawan and the mining policy of the Aquino administration.[59]


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