Human Rights
Build Back Better: Business and Human Rights

Business and Human Rights
© FNF Philippines

“The primary responsibility to respect human rights rests on states,” said Focal Commissioner on Business and Human Rights of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Commissioner Roberto Cadiz as he discussed the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on BHR.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation Philippines hosted a parallel session on Business and Human Rights on Thursday, November 11, 2021, as part of the 59th Annual Conference of the Philippine Economic Society.

Four stories concerning human rights in business, written by four journalist scholars of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Southeast and East Asia Journalism Training Program were featured in this event.

Who peels your garlic: Inside Manila’s informal economy

By Geela Garcia

In Metro Manila, all sorts of low-income jobs are springing up across the city. With the economy faltering during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Filipino people were forced to take up odd and low-paying jobs. One of these jobs is the garlic peelers of Baseco, women from a community with some of the worst living conditions known to the country. Geela Garcia covered the story, placing her focus on the life of Marites Arendain. Making a measly US$1.60 a day for a whole bag of garlic, she can hardly buy enough food to feed her family. With the smuggled products coming straight from the port area, this gray market is highly in demand because of the low labor cost amongst residents of Baseco.

While conditions in the Baseco area are not looking any more optimistic, Ms. Garcia was pleased to report that people expressed interest in helping after reading her article. With the powerful impact of her journalism, she exposes the deep and underlying problems on the darker side of Metropolitan Manila.

Singapore: A Solution to maid abuse?

By Rachel Genevieve Chia

Global migration is a modern-day trend that sees people move to new countries to pursue work, education, or a better life. In the case of Rachel Genevieve Chia’s article, she tackles the striking reality of the job market in Singapore for young and aspiring workers. She sets her sights on Poe Ei San, a 25-year-old Burmese migrant looking to be a nurse in the bustling city of Singapore. Poe was unlucky to find a job as a nurse but then found work as a home cleaner.

The issue in Singapore is the rising number of abuse complaints by domestic helpers who work under households in the country. However, through formalizing domestic work as a job, Poe was able to receive benefits and a higher salary, thanks to the Singapore government’s initiative. Ms. Chia’s article garnered attention and hoped that people’s lives could improve through government policies that protect workers and their rights. 

Children of the deep: Child Labor in the Philippines has sunk even lower to uncharted depths

By Marielle Lucenio

COVID-19 has affected everyone but those under the poverty line significantly feel the effects. In the region of Camarines Norte, Philippines lies small-scale mining areas, which are reported to be frequented by child labor. Hooked up to a generator and an oxygen hose, children dive up to forty feet under the ground looking for gold. The darkness under the muddy water is a working condition that not even adults should be exposed to, but these children brave it to bring food home to their families.

Marielle Lucenio reports that an increasing number of children are entering this dangerous and illegal trade, and nothing much is being done to stop it. According to Ms. Lucenio, the pandemic has pushed back to zero anti-child labor efforts of national and local government, non-government organizations and communities. Through her article, she hopes to focus the lenses on this long fight against child labor.

New law on sexual harassment in the workplace in Vietnam: Significant but insufficient

By Trang Vu

In Vietnam, an Amended Labor Code including a clear definition of sexual harassment for the first time is a welcome step to protect women in the workplace from sexual harassment. However, Vietnamese companies are not mentally and technically ready to fully adopt the law. Trang Vu’s article exposes the harsh realities of sexual harassment in the workplace.

While both men and women prefer to stay silent instead of speaking out against their superiors and potentially losing their jobs, this article by Ms. Vu sparks a discussion and hopes to trigger an action within the public and private sector.

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