“Isang napakagandang experience at opportunity nito sa akin bilang participant sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon. I will allow myself to push into more learnings,” explained a participant from Barangay Sauyo, Quezon City, who took part on a pilot training for barangays on handling violence against women cases implemented by Saligan.
Saligan was able to provide this training through a grant from the European Union’s Governance in Justice (GOJUST) Programme. Saligan is just one of GOJUST’s 32 grantees – civil society organizations or law schools – that implement activities to promote access to justice for women and other vulnerable groups.
This is critical in the Philippines as one in four Filipino women age 15-49 has experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence by their husband or partner, according to the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The training aimed to strengthen the capacities of barangays in handling violence against women (VAW) and gender-based violence (GBV) cases. The training provided an overview on Laws on Rape and Trafficking in Persons as well as operationalizing a Referral Network and VAWC Desk Services. A unique feature of the law against violence against women is the authority of the punong barangay (village chieftain) to issue a barangay protection order to provide immediate relief to victims of violence. The 45 participants from seven barangays were keen to learn:
“Napakaganda magpalawinag ng mga speakers at lahat ng katanungan ay kanila pong nasagot. Kami po ay naliwanagan at marami kaming natutunan. Lahat po ng speakers ay maayos ang treatment sa amin kaya hindinpo kami naiilang magtanong. Napakagaling mga speakers kaya naman uuwi kaming marami kaming natutunan at ma-eshare sa aming kasamahan sa barangay.” – participant from Brgy. Kay Anlog, Calamba City
Maayos na naideliver ng mga assigned persons ang kanilang piece. Just continue to reach out to us because we really learn and grow from this.” – participant from Brgy. Sauyo, Quezon City
“Nadagdagan ang aking kaalaman kung paano ihahandle ang mga bawat kaso at reklamo.” – Barangay Dos, Calamba City
Since launching the grant facility one year ago, about 2,300 women, children and men have been provided with legal aid services and received knowledge and training on their rights.
With a total grant of EUR19 million (Php 1.1 billion ) over a period of four years, the EU’s GOJUST programme supports the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ efforts to improve access to justice for all Filipinos, and thus, contribute to inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development. GOJUST works with the Philippine Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to develop more responsive and accountable justice services in the country.
In addition, GOJUST aims at strengthening the Commission on Human Rights to help it carry out its constitutional mandate of civil and political rights protection and enhance human rights promotion in the Philippines. This component is co-funded with the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID), with an additional EUR 1 million (Php 59.47 million).
GOJUST is implemented through technical assistance by the British Council and logistical and grant management support from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).