A Philippine Human Rights NGO providing Psychosocial Services and Rehabilitation to Internally Displaced Persons and Survivors of Torture and Organized Violence.


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Human rights groups have welcomed the conviction of a police officer  implicated in the torture of  a detainee in the verdict made by the Municipal Trial Court in Angeles City, Pampanga  on March 29, 2016.  In his decision, Judge Ireneo  Panganiban Jr.,  has found guilty Police Officer 2  Jerick Jimenez of subjecting  Jerryme Corre to severe pain and suffering to make him admit to a crime in violation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act.

The court decision is  the first of its kind since the Anti-Torture Law was enacted in 2009.  The judge had ordered PO2 Jimenez to be jailed for a maximum period of two years and four months. He also directed the convicted police officer to pay the victim P100,000.00 in moral damages.


Balay Rehabilitation Center held a Seminar on Torture Prevention, Monitoring, Documentation and Reporting for Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Wardens and Health Officer Torture in Cebu last March 30, 2016. The speakers include former Commission on Human Rights Regional Director Atty. Alejandro Alonso Jr., officials from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology National Headquarters and representatives from Balay Rehabilitation Center. Participants composed of 55 BJMP Wardens and Jail Officers from different jails in the Visayas.


Professionals  from different government agencies participated in a study session on torture prevention and rehabilitation organized by Balay Rehabilitation Center  in  Albay in Bicol province on February 23-24, 2016. The 2-day activity gathered 36 participants which included   healthcare providers, lawyers, and social workers from the regional offices of the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Public Attorney’s Office. Members of the Philippine National Police, the Department of Justice, and civil society organizations  in Albay province and Naga City  also joined the event.


Living in the Shadows

Another study of Balay, this time in collaboration with the International Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) has been published. The study looks at the phenomenon of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and armed conflict in NPA areas. You can download the research using the link at the end of this page. Below is a brief description of the research.

In recent years, much of the attention paid to internal displacement in Mindanao has focused on central and Western Mindanao. This displacement is primarily the result of prolonged conflict between Muslim rebels groups – in particular the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – and the government. The conflict, often described as a contestation between groups of indigenous people, known as the Bangsamoro, and non-native newcomers to the region, has claimed the lives of an estimated 150,000 people in the last four decades and displaced millions. Progress towards a final resolution of this conflict appears on track.

However, no comparable progress has been made towards ending the 46-year old conflict between the government and the New People's Army (NPA) the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Peace talks continue to be mired by half-hearted efforts on both sides and a perception that neither party is willing to make concessions. The government's security forces and the NPA continue to clash regularly, in particular in Eastern and Northern Mindanao where the conflict exacts a heavy toll on the mainly indigenous civilian population. Unlike the Bangsamoro conflict, the NPA insurgency attracts little attention, despite being one of the longest running conflicts in the world and despite its ongoing impact on the civilian population. This is partly due to the fact that most of the violence and most of the suffering caused to civilians, including regular displacements, take place in remote areas and remain under-reported. The armed conflict is not the only displacement threat indigenous people in Mindanao – commonly referred to as Lumad – are exposed to. Their land and human rights are also under attack as outsiders seek to exploit their abundant natural resources: Mindanao is thought to hold the country's largest reserves of nickel, copper and gold.Resistance to natural resource extraction projects is sometimes met with violence. Many indigenous people are forcibly evicted, particularly those who lack ancestral land titles or other proof of ownership of land and resources. Tension and conflict over land access and management add another dimension to the violence and may be fuelling the armed conflict and increasing NPA recruitments.

Natural disasters, in particular flooding, are another major and frequent cause of displacement in the region. On 4 December 2012, Typhoon Bopha (locally referred to as Pablo) struck Mindanao, forcing close to a million of the 6.2 million people impacted to evacuate their homes. The typhoon's high wind speed and flooding caused extensive damage, with over 235,000 homes destroyed or damaged and further destruction of public infrastructure. The eastern part of the island bore the brunt of the casualties and damage, with indigenous communities particularly affected. As elsewhere in Mindanao, deforestation due to logging, mining, and the extensive cultivation of banana plantations in mountainous areas increased poor communities' vulnerability to flash floods and landslides. Even before their displacement most Lumad people, including former IDPs studied in this report, lived in remote,poor and marginalised areas where the unstable security situation has been hampering development efforts. As a result many Lumad communities struggle to cope with the economic and social consequences of their repeated displacement. They are unable to build up any assets that would sustain them in times of crisis and remain in a constant state of alarm and uncertainty about their futures.

The right of indigenous people not to be displaced from their land is guaranteed by Filipino law, in particular the 1997 Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA), and also by the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), an accord signed by the government and the NPA in 1998. As long as counter-insurgency operations continue to target indigenous communities and IPRA and CARHRIHL are not effectively enforced, these communities will continue to be locked in a cycle of regular displacement to escape conflict and violence.

In this report IDMC aims to assess the impact of multiple displacements caused by the government-NPA conflict on Lumad communities in eastern Mindanao, identify the main obstacles to sustainable return and recovery and make policy recommendations to address these. The study also sought to assess the extent to which communities previously affected by the conflict are more vulnerable to the effects of the disaster as a result of previous loss of assets and physical isolation and socio- economic marginalisation.

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