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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

13 Filipino staffers seek ouster of UN’s Manila chief

Previous articles on this issue have been written. I intended to blog about it but sort of forgot due to many other articles directly related to RH/PopDev advocacy that came up. However, surfing the net awhile ago, I came across this breaking news and decided to post it immediately, and share my thoughts on the matter through this blog.

here's an excerpt:

Exec accused of oppressive behaviour
by Veronica Uy, Inquirer.Net
Last updated 08:58pm (Mla time) 07/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- At least 13 Filipino staffers of the United Nations office here, including two who have already left the office, are seeking the ouster of the office’s chief, Nileema Noble, for her allegedly “autocratic and oppressive behavior.”

In a letter to Kemal Dervis, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York, staffers Mary Gemme Montebon, Jennifer Navarro, Amelia D. Supetran, Emmanuel E. Buendia, Morito G. Francisco, Imee F. Manal, Clarissa Arida, Roberto V. Carandang, Anna L. Senga, Jay-Ann Arandia, and Elcid C. Pangilinan, and former staff workers Frances M. Solinap and Francis Gertrud R. Mercado, also asked that Nileema be punished for “verbal and physical harassment,” “abuse of authority,” and “violation of the rights” of the staffers, particularly to effective remedy and due process.

A copy of the 11-page letter dated July 23 this year was obtained by

Read the full article by clicking the title of this post or here.

First of all, I admire the courage of those staff in coming forward and bringing their grievances out into the open. From the looks of it, it can be clearly inferred that their decision took a lot of guts as it meant going against a person who belongs to an institution so big and influential. It is in this note that I find this whole thing alarming and quite ironic. Having the chance to work with one of its agencies, the UNFPA, I take pride in the fact that respect for "human rights" served as cornerstone of the whole program. In addition, RH advocates anchor the strength of the advocacy using the rights-based approach. That was the guiding force in all these work.

In this case, the essence of the complaint is anchored on the violation of the staff's basic human rights. In UN's official website, , this is written:

With its standards-setting work nearly complete, the UN is shifting the emphasis of its human rights efforts to the implementation of human rights laws. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, who coordinates UN human rights activities, works with governments to improve their observance of human rights, seeks to prevent violations, and works closely with the UN human rights mechanisms. The UN Commission on Human Rights, an intergovernmental body, holds public meetings to review the human rights performance of States, to adopt new standards and to promote human rights around the world. The Commission also appoints independent experts — "special rapporteurs" — to report on specific human rights abuses or to examine the human rights situation in specific countries.

What do you do then, when the person representing such institution violates the very principles it is supposed to uphold and promote? Every person has a right to do as he/she pleases so long as he/she does not step into the rights of others. This is basic.

In situations such as this, the very existence of UN could be undermined and challenged, and that is dangerous, if not outrightly disgusting. It is sad and frustrating that these UN staff, our fellow Filipinos working to protect and foster the rights of others, did so in a manner and working environment that painstakingly denied and prevented them to enjoy its exercise.

Under the law, we have the concept of natural and juridical persons. This is so in relation to acquiring capacity to do business, engage in transactions and enter into contracts. This likewise determines one's rights and obligations. The concept of natural persons is self-explanatory whereas juridical persons or personality is that which is vested in corporations and legitimate organizations. However, it bears stressing that although these institutions have personalities separate and distinct from the individuals running them, the individual/s behind these orgs/institutions provide their "faces". The impressions on these organizations are derived from the way the individuals behind them work and conduct themselves.

In addition, experience has taught me that people listen to people, more than the institution itself. And so the credibility of these organizations rests upon the people representing them. The Supreme Court, for all its standards has not always been looked up to, as its supremacy has been respected and given high regard depending on the justices representing it. This is the reason why an issue decided by the Supreme Court before (note: SC decisions become part of the law of the land) could be, in a new case involving similar circumstances, overturned and thus form a new jurisprudence, which could again be overturned in the future depending on the "wisdom" of the justices by that time.

In conclusion, an issue such as this requires vigilance as it signifies safeguarding and protecting the rights which the UN System itself works hard for to be upheld in the many countries they work with. I commend the media who have taken time to write and publish the story. Having the media as partners in making things happen and uncovering the truth is a notion well received. The various UN Agencies in the country have been significantly playing roles in pushing forward for our development. Needless to state, they have worthy tasks to pursue and we need their assistance. Said UN Official is just one among the many UN Officials here. And most of them have truly and tirelessly worked hard to uplift the quality of lives of Filipinos. Hopefully, this will be resolved with justice in all fronts being served.

Thus it has been said :

"Of all the lessons history teaches, this one is the plainest: the person who tries to achieve ends through force is always unscrupulous and is always cruel. We should remember this in an age where morality seems to be disappearing and is being replaced by politics." -- Eustace Percy