KATARUNGAN was formed in 2006 in response to the international campaign to stop the extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines. Since then, it has transformed from an ad-hoc committee to a center that would promote peace, justice, and human rights in the Philippines through research, education and grassroots advocacy.
We believe that human beings have the inalienable right to life, liberty, security of person and pursuit of happiness and to fundamental freedoms as those of ideas, belief, expression and assembly, as well as from want and fear.
We position ourselves with the marginalized and oppressed in Philippine society who are the victims of a system of structural violence, inequality, and injustice.
Therefore, our vision of human rights includes:
The right to land, food, shelter, health care, education, work, safety, a healthy environment, adequate and sustainable resources;
The right to peace and justice;
The right to live in a society free from economic exploitation, and political, racial, national, religious, gender, cultural, and sexual oppression;
The right to decent working conditions and a just wage;
The right to practice one’s culture and learn one’s true history;
The right of peoples and nations to self-determination; and
The right to development which includes the people’s right to control their natural resources and define economic policies and programs that are free from foreign and local exploitation;
We envision a new society where the interests and rights of the majority are at the center of government laws and policies. Only then can the comprehensive fulfillment of human dignity for all be achieved.
We strive to promote our vision through the following means:
(1) Research: We will be gathering information on particular cases of human rights violations and on the general state of human rights of Filipinos. We will also be documenting the effects of U.S. policies toward the Philippines that promote or prolong injustice. We aim to do this by working with partners on the ground in the Philippines and through our own fact finding initiatives.
(2) Public education: We aim to play a major role in developing strong public opinion and support for human rights issues and concerns through public forums, speaking tours, publications, and multi-media education. We aim to raise awareness in the U.S. about the state of human rights in the Philippines as well as the Filipino-American community and the connection between this and U.S. policies.
(3) Grassroots advocacy: Our aim is to encourage people in the U.S. to use the information we provide to take action and promote change particularly to uphold and defend human rights in the Philippines as well as Filipino compatriots in America. Our advocacy efforts will include media campaigns, petition- and letter-writing campaigns. We also see our organization playing a flexible and supportive role for various forms of grassroots action on the issue.
Since 2001, there have been over 1000 politically-motivated extrajudicial killings and disappearances in the Philippines of primarily labor, human rights, and other progressive activists. According to Filipino human rights organizations and reports by prominent human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, these murders and disappearances were carried out by elements within the Philippine military under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration’s “war on terror” and counter-insurgency program. Other human rights violations are also on the rise including illegal arrest and detention, the curtailing of press freedom, the disenfranchisement of voters.