Human rights protection and fighting corruption

By Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos |December 09,2018 - 09:31 PM

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

Today, December 10, is celebrated worldwide as International Human Rights Day.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is considered a “milestone” document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly seventy years ago. It sets for the first time common standard of achieving the fundamental human rights that are universally protected for all peoples in all countries. Learning the lessons of the horrors of World War II, it has provisions which are the foundation of the international human rights law which recognizes the rights and duties of each human being, the basic being “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” (Article I. UDHR)

Likewise, December 9 was observed as the International Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption is anathema to the progress and development of individuals and institutions and “can undermine social and economic development in all societies.”

Ensuring the transparent, inclusive, accountable governance under the Rule of Law, provide the much-needed armor to fight and stop its destructive effects from contaminating many.

As Filipinos, we take pride in the fact that the Philippines was among the countries that signed the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights in 1948 and the International Convention Against Corruption in 2003. Both are valid and enforceable legal instruments that States are duty-bound to comply. The International Convention Against Corruption is deemed the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument.

The reality is in stark contrast to what our government pledged to honor and respect. While we have integrated our international commitment through the Constitution and national laws, a massive assault on the dignity and honor of individuals and growing corruption perception stare at us in the face.

Despite the oath to obey the Law, extra-judicial killings, with no clear commitment by state agencies to stop them, assassination of lawyers, prosecutors, judges, doctors serving our poor, and vulnerable sectors, and red tagging, have continued unabated, meant to stifle our rights and freedoms we and our forefathers have fought hard and some, died for.

In the war against corruption, according to the 2017 Global Corruption Index, the Philippines ranked 111 out of 180 countries surveyed, scoring a measly 34, with the highest, New Zealand scoring 89. You may access the website, https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2017

Essential attention that should have been given for health, education, livelihoods, sustainability of our natural life support systems, climate response and quality of life in general is not prioritized, except in some national agencies and local governments where the leadership is above board.

What are we doing about them? Will we just give up or worse, turn a blind eye on injustice?

It is essential, if our democratic institutions and people are to survive and emerge stronger, that Human Rights education is taught, incorporated in all that we do, at the earliest stage of awareness, and Human Rights promoted and defended.

While considered an infant republic, compared to the more mature democracies, we must do our share. Will you?

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