The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in the Philippines to promote democracy and human rights. For background on the Philippines' human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
Advancing democratic values and strengthening democratic institutions are top priorities for the United States. U.S. democracy and human rights promotion efforts in the Philippines support free and fair elections; assist the government and civil society groups to improve adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights; and strengthen good governance while combating corruption with transparent and accountable institutions. The U.S. Government addresses these issues by providing development assistance programs for government and civil society partners to develop the policies and tools necessary for a freer, fairer, and more democratic system set within the framework of the rule of law and respect for human rights. In addition, the U.S. Government works to promote respect for internationally recognized worker rights and combat the worst forms of child labor.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
U.S.-funded programs currently support civil society initiatives that monitor election tabulation; allow non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to monitor election violence, campaign finance in selected electoral contests, and media reporting; and assist electoral automation efforts in preparation for local and national elections. The U.S. embassy sent a team of U.S. officials to observe the August 2008 regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and plans to dispatch embassy officials throughout the nation to observe the May 2010 general elections. Through NGOs and their Philippine partners, the U.S. Government-funded efforts focused on election observation, voter education, and dispute resolution in the May 2010 elections. These initiatives, as well as public statements by the Ambassador and other senior U.S. officials, clearly demonstrate to the electorate, elections officials, and local politicians the U.S. Government's strong support for a free and fair democratic process. U.S. officials frequently convey the message that extrajudicial killings and disappearances must cease and encourage the government to investigate and prosecute cases thoroughly. U.S. assistance programs build the capacity of journalists to report credibly, accurately, and professionally on human rights violations; strengthen the judicial sector's effectiveness in prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings and disappearances; and professionalize the security forces. The U.S. Government provides direct and indirect assistance to Philippine law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and the courts to investigate, prosecute, and convict human traffickers, and funds NGOs in efforts to assist trafficking victims and prevent trafficking.
The United States continues to provide computer software support and training to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and several human rights NGOs to improve efficiency and security in documenting, storing, and reporting of human rights abuses. The CHR distributed to its regional offices a U.S.-funded secure information management system that allows the CHR and NGOs to track human rights cases while protecting sensitive information and shielding the identity of victims or witnesses who provide testimony on human rights abuses. The U.S. Government has sponsored conferences, forums, and consultations with interested government agencies and NGOs on human rights, including extrajudicial killings and the "writ of amparo," a legal remedy that requires a Philippine government agency to produce a given missing person, provide information on the person's whereabouts, or demonstrate that the agency is taking steps to locate the person. U.S. officials, working with the Philippine Supreme Court, developed materials to increase awareness about the writ of amparo that have been distributed to academia, churches, government institutions, international development organizations, civil society organizations, and the public.
To encourage respect for due process among members of the armed forces, U.S. military assistance programs train thousands of soldiers to strengthen their professionalism, commitment to human rights, and discipline. Graduates of these programs populate top ranks of the armed forces, helping to ensure that the principle of command responsibility is understood at all levels of leadership.
During 2009, the United States trained Philippine National Police personnel, many of whom were women, in courses relating to the Model Police Station project, the Special Boat Unit project, and the Southern Philippines Law Enforcement Development project. Each course included a block of instruction on respect for human rights, and the proper role of police in society. All course workbooks and other materials likewise underscore the crucial role of respect for human rights in police work.
The U.S. Government continues to support efforts to strengthen good governance, prosecute corrupt officials, and institute anticorruption measures. U.S. programs seek to improve the anticorruption capacities of the Ombudsman's Office and the Finance Department through the provision of training, equipment, and technical support. U.S. programs support corruption prevention assessments of select government agencies, including the Supreme Court, enabling the deployment of targeted anticorruption measures. The United States continues to provide the Antigraft Court and other courts with tools for improving case management and expanding the use of continuous trials.