It was attended by more than 40 participants comprising of youth groups and student council representatives from Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet; officers and staff of the CHR-CAR led by its Regional Director, Atty. Romel Daguimol; civil society organizations (CSOs); officers and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine Army (AFP-PA) Baguio Task Force, and the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCOR)-Regional Human Rights Affairs Office (RHRAO); and representatives from the Hanns Seidel Foundation/Germany (HSF).
The youth groups present were: Indigenous Peoples Youth Federation (Benguet), Youth for Peace (Baguio, Benguet and Tinoc Chapters), Kalanguya Student Association (Baguio & Benguet Chapters), and Youth with a Vision (Cordillera Chapter). Student leaders came from Benguet State University (BSU), Kings College of the Philippines (KCP), University of the Cordilleras (UC), Baguio Central University (BCU), and University of Baguio (UB).
Members of the CBD Core Group in CAR attended the activity from the following organizations: Igorot Global Organization - Philippines (IGO-Ph), People’s Organization for Social Transformation (POST), Tebtebba Foundation, Shamayim’s Touch Care Group Inc. (STCGI), and AFP-PA Baguio Task Group.
Among the human rights issues presented by the groups were: (i) gender sensitivity/inclusivity (discrimination, identity crisis); (ii) issues on indigenous people (lack of awareness on IPRA law/IP rights, misrepresentation of traditional practices, cultural division/differences); (iii) tuition fee/other fee increases in private colleges/universities, scholarship from government agencies; (iv) exploitation of labor (13th month pay/other benefits, delayed salaries/overtime pay concerns, security of tenure, qualification standards); (v) public safety and protection within the community; (vi) limited slots for Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES); (vi) un/underemployment for fresh graduates (requires work experience); (vii) recruitment of students in universities/schools by the communist-terrorist-groups (CTGs); (viii) unwanted/teenage pregnancy; (ix) environmental concerns (waste management, deforestation); (x) lack of awareness on human rights; (xi) mental health and (xii) abuse on the use of freedom of speech.
Based on the consensus of the group, the following agreements were deemed doable in the near term with the support of the core group: full implementation of city-wide gender-neutral restrooms for LGBTQI+ community; CHR, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and AFP through its community support program to undertake intensified IEC activities on IP rights/IPRA in all municipalities in CAR; increase number of scholarship grants both for public and private schools; use of social media for information dissemination; AFP-PA Baguio Task Force & PNP may conduct self-defense training for students; increase human rights awareness among youth-CHR to continue/intensify IEC activities in schools and communities, including limit to right of freedom of speech; Shamayim’s Touch offered services on mental health awareness and suicide prevention; and involvement of the youth on cultural awareness programs.
It was a good opportunity for the students/youth organizations to directly participate in discussions related to human rights, and share their issues and concerns through the conduct of a CBD. It also gave them the chance to be informed about the CBD mechanism aimed towards the promotion and protection of human rights.