Human Rights in the Philippines: Challenges and the Fight for a Democratic Future
With Neri Colmenares, veteran human right lawyer and activist
Neri Colmenares, 62, is a veteran human rights lawyer and activist who was detained for four years when the Philippines was under Martial Law. In 2018, he filed the second petition accusing President Duterte of murder and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court on behalf of eight victims of the “war on drugs”. He was also a co-petitioner in one of the 37 constitutional challenges to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Colmenares served as Bayan-Muna representative in the lower house from 2007 to 2016. In 2009, he helped form the Makabayan bloc (or Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan), composed of socio-civic party-lists including Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, ACT Teachers and Kabataan.
As Bayan-Muna representative, he championed senior citizens’ welfare, a genuine agrarian reform program for farmers, higher wages for laborers and protection of human rights. He played a role in impeachment cases against Presidents Benigno Aquino III, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former Chief Justice Renato Corona and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
Colmenares launched two prior unsuccessful bids for senator in 2016 and 2019. For the 2022 polls, his senatorial bid is endorsed by the opposition 1Sambayan coalition. Colmenares is also part of the Senate slates of Sen. Manny Pacquiao and labor leader Leody de Guzman.
This Philippine Studies Group event is co-presented with Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre, Migrants Resource Centre, and the York Centre for Asian Research. The PSG’s 2023 activities are supported through funding from the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto.