COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. At its 1218th and 1219th
meetings, held on 5 and 6 August 1997, the Committee on the Elimination
of Racial Discrimination considered the eleventh to fourteenth periodic
reports of the Philippines (CERD/C/299/Add.12) and adopted, at its 1231st
meeting, held on 14 August 1997, the following concluding observations.
2. After a lapse of eight
years, the Committee welcomes the opportunity to resume the dialogue
with the State party, on the basis of its eleventh to fourteenth periodic
reports. While a number of important questions raised and recommendations
made during the consideration of the tenth report of the State party
have not been addressed in the present report, the Committee expresses
its appreciation for the answers provided by the delegation to the many
questions asked in the course of the discussion, which enabled it to
obtain a clearer picture of the situation in the country with respect
to the implementation of the Convention.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Convention
3. It is noted that, although
the State party has recently introduced important reforms at the political,
economic and social levels, the authorities have not yet been able to
control endemic poverty, which exacerbates social inequalities and disparities
in development, affecting in particular vulnerable groups, including
the indigenous cultural communities and Muslim Filipinos.
C. Positive aspects
4. The Committee welcomes
the proclamation of the National Decade for Filipino Indigenous People
(1995-2005) and the presentation to the President, in compliance with
Memorandum Order No. 335 of 26 January 1996, of a Philippines Human
Rights Plan, comprising the Sectoral Action Plans for Human Rights Protection
of Indigenous Cultural Communities and Muslim Communities.
5. The Committee expresses
its satisfaction at the adoption of various measures with the effect,
directly or indirectly, of preventing and combating disparities between
various ethnic groups, in particular, the adoption of the Social Reform
Agenda under the Medium-Term Development Plan, aimed at fighting poverty
and attaining social justice; the promulgation of the Rules and Regulations
on Children of Indigenous Cultural Communities, seeking to provide those
children with basic health, nutrition and other social services; the
adoption of measures by the Department of Labour and Employment for
the prevention of discrimination against workers from minority groups;
and the granting of scholarships to children and youths from the indigenous
cultural communities through the National Integration Study Programme
and the Special Ethnic Groups Educational Assistance Programme.
6. The Committee notes with
appreciation that a number of steps have been taken towards the peaceful
settlement of the conflict between the Government and the Muslim Filipino
community in the southern part of the country, such as the negotiation
of a cease-fire in 1990 and the signing of a peace agreement in 1996
between the Government and the Moro National Liberation Front; the issuance
of Executive Order No. 371 of 2 October 1996 establishing a Special
Zone of Peace and Development, the Council for Peace and Development
and a Consultative Assembly; and the adoption on 15 October 1996 of
Administrative Order No. 297 on the implementation of the provision
in the peace agreement for members of the Moro National Liberation Front
to join the National Police.
7. The Committee notes with
satisfaction, with respect to article 5 (d) (v) of the Convention, the
launching of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme to improve
the tenure of indigenous cultural communities in their ancestral lands,
and the issuance of Administrative Order No. 02, Series of 1993, providing
for the issuance of certificates of ancestral land and domain claims
to individuals, families or clans, and indigenous communities, even
though those certificates do not constitute titles of property in land.
8. With respect to article
7 of the Convention, the Committee welcomes the adoption of measures
such as the issuance of Executive Order No. 27 of 1986, instructing
the Department of Education, Culture and Sports to include the study
of human rights in the curricula at all levels of education; the creation
by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports of "writeshops" on
peace education in which members of indigenous cultural communities
participated; and the setting up by the Department of Education, Culture
and Sports and the Commission on Human Rights of training programmes
on human rights for supervisors, who will in turn train teachers on
the ways to introduce human rights education in schools.
9. The Committee is encouraged
by the several bills pending before Congress, specifically dealing with
the solution of the fundamental issue of the restoration of the indigenous
cultural communities' rights to their ancestral domains/lands (House
Bill No. 33 and Senate Bill No. 1728), with equal employment opportunities
for members of the indigenous cultural communities and Muslim Filipinos
(Senate Bills No. 153, 212 and 1057) and with improvement of the economic
and social situation of the cultural communities (Senate Bill No. 1476).
The Committee is further encouraged by the action of President Ramos
in requesting Congress to enact these bills into law by November 1997.
10. The Committee welcomes
the establishment of the Commission on Human Rights and of the Tanodbayan
D. Principal subjects of concern
11. In connection with the
statement in paragraph 4 of the report, that "racial discrimination,
as defined under article 1, paragraph 1, of the Convention, is alien
to the prevailing mores and culture of the Filipino people. The type
of racial discrimination similar to what was practised in South Africa
when the policy of apartheid was not yet dismantled, has never officially
or factually existed in the Philippines, neither in a systemic nor formal
nor intermittent nor isolated manner. Hence, there have never been any
references to the existence of a discriminatory policy on racial grounds
nor have there been any allegations of instances of racial discrimination
as a specific kind of human rights violation in the Philippines, even
before or immediately after the Philippines adopted and ratified the
Convention on 21 December 1965 and 15 September 1967, respectively".
The Committee emphasizes that the scope of article 1, paragraph 1, of
the Convention is broader. The article covers any distinction, exclusion,
restriction or preference that has either the purpose or the effect
of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of
human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis in the political,
social, cultural or any other field of public life. Moreover, the report
and the information received show that important parts of the population
are living in conditions which do not guarantee the exercise of human
rights under equal terms.
12. It is noted with concern
that there is no specific legislation prohibiting racial discrimination.
The Constitution incorporates a comprehensive catalogue of human rights,
but legislative, judicial and administrative measures to implement these
provisions are still lacking. In this respect, reference is made in
particular to articles 2, 4 and 7 of the Convention, which explicitly
require States parties to adopt specific measures to give full effect
to the rights in question.
13. There has been no clarification
of whether Presidential Decree 1350-A of 1978, declaring violations
of the Convention unlawful and providing penalties for such violations,
is in full conformity with the provisions of article 4 of the Convention;
the provisions require that legislative provisions be adopted to classify
as an offence the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority
or hatred, acts of violence or incitement to violence against any race
or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin and the provision
of assistance to racist activities.
14. The lack of specific
disaggregated data concerning the economic and social situation of and
existing disparities between various indigenous communities and ethnic
tribes living in the country makes it difficult to assess the extent
to which they enjoy the rights listed in the Convention.
15. There is no information
in the report on the specific laws and practice with respect to the
implementation of article 5 of the Convention, especially with respect
to the enjoyment of those rights by members of the indigenous cultural
communities and the Muslim Filipinos.
16. With respect to article
5, paragraphs (a) and (b), of the Convention, there is concern that
many reported cases of disappearances, including members of indigenous
peoples and Muslim Filipinos, have not yet been fully investigated and
brought before the courts.
17. In connection with article
5 (d) (I) (v) of the Convention, concern is expressed at reports of
forced evictions and displacements of indigenous populations in development
zones, as well as at reports that specific groups of indigenous peoples
have been denied by force the right to return to some of their ancestral
18. With respect to article
6 of the Convention, there is concern at the lack of legislative provisions
to implement the right to just and adequate reparation or satisfaction
for any damage suffered as a result of acts of racial discrimination.
Moreover, the absence of reported violations of Presidential Decree
1350-A and of complaints against acts of racial discrimination to the
courts raises doubts as to the extent of the publicity given to and
the effectiveness of available remedies for victims of racial discrimination.
19. The information concerning
the 1990 population census does not clarify sufficiently the questions
and comments raised and made during the consideration of the tenth report,
particularly in respect of indigenous cultural communities and ethnic
E. Suggestions and recommendations
20. The Committee recommends
that priority attention be given to the enactment of the bills relating
to indigenous cultural communities and Muslim Filipinos pending before
Congress, that enabling laws be adopted to give full effect to constitutional
provisions dealing with the promotion and protection of human rights
in general and to the rights protected by the Convention in particular,
and that domestic legislation be amended so that it prohibits, as appropriate,
racial discrimination as defined in article 1, paragraph 1 of the Convention.
21. The Committee recommends
that in its next periodic report the State party deal with measures
promoting the interests and welfare of the indigenous cultural communities
and Muslim Filipinos as an integral part of its implementation of the
provisions of the Convention, rather than as a separate chapter.
22. The Committee also recommends
that the next periodic report contain comprehensive information on the
powers, functions and activities of the Commission on Human Rights and
the Ombudsman, especially on the number and the substance of complaints
received, and the action taken as a result.
23. The Committee recommends
that information on the ethnic composition of the population, the standard
of living of each group, as well as other educational and social indicators,
analysed and summarized on the basis of the 1990 population census,
be provided in the next periodic report, with particular emphasis on
indigenous ethnic communities and tribes.
24. The Committee reaffirms
that the provisions of article 4 of the Convention are mandatory, as
stated in its General Recommendation VII (32), and recommends that Presidential
Decree 1350-A of 1978 be reviewed in the light of this recommendation.
The Committee stresses in this regard that the State party should fulfil
all its obligations under this article and that, in doing so, it should
take fully into account General Recommendation XV (42).
25. The Committee recommends
that action be taken at the legislative, administrative and judicial
levels to protect the right of everyone, without discrimination, to
enjoy their rights under article 5 of the Convention, especially the
rights to equal treatment before the courts and all other organs administering
justice, to security of person and protection by the State against violence
or bodily harm, and to freedom of movement and residence.
26. The Committee recommends
that the State party ensure protection against any acts of racial discrimination
through the competent courts, in accordance with article 6 of the Convention,
by, inter alia, strengthening the court system, the independence
of the judiciary and the confidence of the population therein. It further
recommends that the right to seek just and adequate reparation for victims
of acts of racial discrimination be fully guaranteed under the law and
27. The Committee recommends
that further action be taken to ensure that the provisions of the Convention
are more widely disseminated, particularly among members of minority
groups and among the judiciary, the police and government officials.
In this respect, the Committee recommends that special emphasis be put
on the dissemination of information about remedies available in cases
of racial discrimination.
28. The Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention adopted at the fourteenth meeting of States parties.
29. It is noted that the
State party has not made the declaration provided in article 14 of the
Convention, and some members of the Committee requested that the possibility
of making the declaration be considered.
30. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 4 January 1998,
be a comprehensive report and that it address all the points raised
in the present observations.