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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Four torture survivors share their “life and struggles” in a testimonial ceremony held last September 27, 2016 at the Monument of Heroes (Bantayog ng mga Bayani), a landscaped memorial center honoring the people who lived and died in defiance of martial law under then President Ferdinand Marcos.


Members of civil society organizations and faith-based associations joined the commemoration of the day when the late President Marcos placed the country under martial law on September 21, 44 years ago.  Carrying pictures of  victims of human rights violations, more than 1,200 participants gathered in the historic Plaza Miranda in Manila to remind the public that an authoritarian government should never be allowed to prevail again.


Social workers from different municipalities of North Cotabato and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) participated in a study session on documentation and rehabilitation of torture victims in Kidapawan City on September 6 to 9, 2016. The learning event also highlighted the mechanism for monitoring,  reporting, and responding to victims of grave child rights violations in areas affected by armed conflict in Mindanao.


Balay Trains Community Paralegals

Participants together with Louie Crismo, Balay Project Officer, posing after the 3-day training on basic paralegal skills.Antipolo – 22 young people from Bagong Silang, Caloocan participated in a training aimed at equipping them with basic paralegal skills. The youths who participated in the training are current partners of Balay in their program for torture prevention and rehabilitation of victims of torture in Bagong Silang. The group is composed of young people who have experienced torture and ill treatment from the police and young people who are not victims of torture but are perceived to be vulnerable to experience it.

During the training, topics such as the Anti-Torture Law (RA 8745), the Philippine Justice System, basic paralegal skills and fact sheet making skills were discussed. The 3-day training was organized by Balay Rehabilitation Center. The content and facilitation of the sessions was likewise done by Balay staffs.


Balay's experience in working in Bagong Silang has revealed that at least one case of torture or extra-judicial killings (salvaging) happen every month. In lieu of this observation, the paralegal training conducted may be viewed as a response to these human rights violations (HRVs). Trained paralegals are intended to assist possible HRV victims or refer cases to authorities or organizations such as Balay. In effect, these trained individuals may also serve as community-based "watchdogs" – their presence as a deterrent to state authorities in committing such horrible acts.

Business of Saving Lives

At the start of the training, Mr. Ellecer Carlos, one of the facilitators, noted that "torture can happen to anyone". In this light, at the end of the training, it was emphasized to the participants that paralegal skills can someday "save your or somebody else's life". As one of the facilitators succinctly, paralegal work "is in the business of saving lives".

HRV Monitoring System

Aside from forming a pool of paralegals – individuals that may help victims of human rights violations – the training is also intended to create a pool of human rights violations monitors. The information collected by the paralegals, which shall also serve as HRV monitors, shall be used to gauge the human rights situation in Bagong Silang. This information is hoped to be used for research – describing the extent of HRVs in Bagong Silang as well as to come up with trends – and policy reform advocacy within the Barangay and City Government.