Cebu for Human Rights
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - January 11, 2018 - 12:00am

Last January 5, an invitation was sent to human rights defenders, democracy activists, peace makers and millennials to the launching of Cebu for Human Rights (C4HR) on January 9 at the IBP Cebu City Social Hall, Capitol Compound.

The C4HR is a movement of professionals, artists, social development workers and community leaders working to promote human rights as "an important agenda in the ongoing development discourse." It is aimed at promoting and protecting "human rights, to achieve a more peaceful, democratic, and just Philippines." It is not affiliated with any political party but is open to linkage with any organization that promotes free speech, human rights and democracy.

The convenors include human rights advocates, lawyers Democrito Barcenas, Lourdes Barcenas, Myrfi Gonzalez, Jay Pujanes, and Fionah Bojos, Mr. Bien Fernandez, and Mr. Hal Atienza.

The C4HR initially wants to open the discourse regarding the current human rights situation, hold monthly forum on various aspects of the human rights situation, and invite speakers from the civil society and the government sector. Also, it wants to promote understanding and appreciation of the value of human rights.

The C4HR also wants to document any violation of human rights situation and call government to act on this crisis, and to have programs and activities advocating for peace, justice and democracy.

One can better understand what the C4HR stands for from this English version of its manifesto:"There is blood in our hands. While we remain silent, blind and deaf to what is happening, the blood stains our hands, our bodies, our minds, and souls. Yes, there is blood in our hands."

More than 10,000 people-men, women and children-killed since the government launched its war against drugs in 2016.Our democratic institutions, the Supreme Court, Congress and even constitutional bodies like the Commission on Human Rights and the Ombudsman are being shaken.

The news media is being challenged by trolls, fake news and dishonest bloggers.Critics of the government and advocates of  human rights are being persecuted and jailed on trumped-up charges.Even our values, goodness, respect for human life, our freedoms, the rule of law, are being questioned.

We cannot be silent anymore. We cannot be in hiding anymore. We cannot continue to be in fear of reprisal, of fake charges and even extra-judicial killing. We have to go into the light. We have to take back our power.

Our 1987 Constitution states that "The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them."We, the people, in exercise of our sovereign rights, demand from the government that it reinforces the Constitution's provisions on social justice, full respect for human life, and the dignity of every human person.We will take direct action! We will act through peaceful means.

To all our fellow sovereign Filipino people, with the aid of Almighty God, we ask you to join us! Let us rebuild "a just and humane society" and re-establish a "government that embodies our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace..."

You can join C4HR and be informed of its activities by liking its Facebook page  For inquiries you may contact the secretariat, Atty. Myrfi Gonzalez, executive director of Human Rights Unlimited, Inc. at  09323372188 or email

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