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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Latest News

Balay has likened to an act of a “thief in the night” the secretive manner of the burial of the late deposed  dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LnmB-“Hero’s Cemetery”) on November 13.  

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The Balay Rehabilitation Center, convener of the United Against Torture Coalition in the Philippines (UATC) and civil society prime mover of the accession of the Philippines to the Optional Protocol To The Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), has organized a forum to mark the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the OPCAT in Hotel Rembrandt on November 11, 2016.

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Balay was able to document 44 allegations of torture within the third quarter of the year, covering the period July-September 2016. The victims are all residents in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, notably in the island of Basilan where government forces are engaged in a deadly operations against the ‘lawless activities’ of the Abu Sayyaf Group, and in the Davao region and in North Cotabato where the New People’s Army has been posing an armed challenged against the Philippines security forces.

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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.

Counter-measure

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.