Philippines

Priority Issues

  • Labor Rights
  • Resource Rights and Corporate Accountability
  • LGBTI Rights
  • Women's Rights
  • Justice and Rule of Law

Began Program: 2008

The Philippines– despite having a politically vibrant civil society and history of democratic transitions –continues to grapple with the pervasive culture of corruption and impunity. Many of those who exposed government corruption – journalists, human rights activists, civil society leaders- had been disappeared. Military and police used torture, and extrajudicial killings and summary executions were disturbingly common. The Fund’s grantmaking in the Philippines challenged impunity for these crimes, pursued litigation to protect victims of human rights abuse, and promoted women’s rights.
In recent years, a change in political leadership has allowed for some progress in strengthening human rights protections, although advocates are disappointed not to have seen more of the hoped-for improvement in human rights conditions. Furthermore, the scale of criminalization and threats to human rights defenders, combined with decreasing funding to the country and region, creates a chilling environment for local activists.

“The Fund’s support is not just about funding, but it is also about solidarity and understanding how their partners can have greater impact. People at the Fund are amazing, and never failed to show genuine concern to us and to our country.”
Daisy Arago, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights

Our Strategy

Capitalizing on the Philippines’ robust civil society and tradition of mass mobilization, the Fund supports human rights groups working to build movements across sectors to effect lasting social change. Fund grantees are reaching the most vulnerable, at the complex intersections of issues– LGBTI rights groups addressing sexuality and poverty, women’s rights organizations addressing gender based violence amidst a precarious peace process in southern Mindanao, and resource and labor rights activists pursuing legal action against the encroachment of private mining companies onto indigenous lands. By identifying and supporting organizations committed to collaboration and long-term movement building, our network of grantees exert influence and policy change at the national, regional, and international level. This has resulted in landmark protections such as the Karen Vertido case – Women’s Legal Bureau successfully submitted a complaint to the CEDAW Committee, an expert group responsible for monitoring the implementation of the international convention on women’s rights. The Committee found that the Philippines had violated Karen’s rights under CEDAW and recommended that the government provide her compensation and undertake measures to remedy legal obstacles in obtaining justice for rape victims. This set a precedent since it was the first Asian case brought before the Committee and the first ever rape case heard under the Optional Protocol of CEDAW.