The event was hosted by the non-governmental organization Sulong CAHRIHL in cooperation with the Far Eastern University in Manila.
Sulong CAHRIHL work to document and report on human rights violations in the Philippines. The signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) in the Philippines in 1998 was an important step towards the peaceful resolution of conflict between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front.
- You need to put the questions of human rights forward in your conscience, and in your studies, said senior vice-president of academic affairs Dr. Tinio in an appeal to the young audience. These were mainly students from the Department of International Studies.
Deputy Head of Mission Knut-Are Okstad gave an inspirational message, and encouraged the students to read this year’s Universal Periodic Review to better understand how the international community view the human rights situation in the Philippines. Okstad also acknowledged the important work Sulong CAHRIHL is doing to ensure commitment from both parties in conflict.
Also represented at the event was the Armed Forces Philippines by Colonel Rhoderick Parayno. Col. Parayno elaborated on the important establishment of the human rights office in AFP in 2010, along with human rights education given to military soldiers. From what used to be a military security centered approach, the focus has now been changed to a people centered approach. He further explained a commitment to zero-tolerance concerning human rights violations, and encouraged the students to use social media to report on violations.
Joeven Reyens in Sulong CAHRIHL also referred to a type of media for reporting on abuses. Their new project is Frontline SMS, which enable individuals to report on violations via text messages.
- Where are we now in the Mindanao conflict? Was a question forwarded by one of the students present at the forum to both Reyens and Col. Parayno in the discussion that followed.
Both the representative from Sulong CAHRIHL and the representative from the Armed Forces Philippines agreed that there is still a long way to go, but that working for peace in Mindanao is the only option.